A few weeks ago, I started a thread on the DobberHockey forums with the goal of discussing several highly-touted prospects that I have been wrong about in recent years. The purpose of my post wasn’t to highlight my inability to be a judge of hockey talent, but to see if there are any trends we can make note of to avoid repeating past failures when evaluating players now and in the future.


Although he was never really a prospect worth watching in fantasy hockey circles, Ryan Parent was expected to become a very good NHL defenseman. He was big and strong, and was a star for Canada internationally. He earned comparisons to Adam Foote – high praise for any young defensive defenseman.


There were several warnings signs with Parent from the beginning, but several NHL teams ignored them (either by choice or by accident). The biggest red flag – a lack of production at lower levels.

Even though he focused on the defensive side of the game, Parent’s lack of production should have been an early warning sign. He scored only 10 goals in 227 OHL games, well below the production of a few draft peers and a former team mate:


  • Marc Staal – 23 goals in 236 games (12th overall in 2005) 
  • Jakub Kindl – 26 goals in 176 games (19th overall in 2005) 
  • Dan Girardi – 21 goals in 230 games (undrafted)


Parent also sustained a few injuries that likely hurt his development, and he was never really as dominant defensively as many in the media and hockey world hyped him up to be.


Anyway, back to my topic on the forums. Let’s discuss some disappointing players to see if any warning signs were ignored.




Oscar Moller (Warning Sign – Rushed to the NHL)


Moller was one of the best prospects I saw come through the WHL. He was small, but quite gritty and skilled. He was the prototypical small forward who played bigger than his size. Playing a physical brand of hockey didn’t hurt him at the WHL level, but the Kings put him in the NHL as a teenager, and he suffered a few injuries. Warning sign #1.


Moller is now over in Sweden, where he is one of the best forwards in the SEL. He is still young and an NHL return isn’t out of the question, but he went from can’t miss prospect to playing in Europe mostly because the Kings rushed him. It is too bad he wasn’t a bit younger – the Kings boast terrific forward depth now, and Moller would likely have stuck around in the WHL and/or the AHL for a few seasons, where he could have gotten a bit stronger and more able to handle the strength of NHL defensemen.




Steve Bernier (Warning Sign – Lack of Production)

When the Canucks failed in their bid to sign David Backes in the summer of 2008, they turned their attention to another young NHL power forward – Buffalo’s Steve Bernier. They traded multiple draft picks to the Sabres in exchange for Bernier, and many in Vancouver immediately began pencilling him in alongside the Sedin twins. Why? He seemed to be a great fit, on paper at least. He was big and strong, and he was a right-handed shot.


However, the club had ignored his lack of production. After scoring 14 goals in 49 games with the Sharks as a rookie in 2005-06, Bernier struggled to hold down a consistent top-six spot in the NHL. He scored 15 goals in his first season with the Canucks, and only 11 in his second. He didn’t have the hockey sense or the skating ability to keep up with Daniel and Henrik, and the Canucks ultimately flipped him to Florida in a trade.




Peter Regin (Warning Sign – Small Sample Size)

I was very bullish regarding Regin after the 2009-10 season. He was Ottawa’s best player down the stretch and in the first round of the playoffs against Pittsburgh, where he lit the lamp three times in six games. I had him pegged for 20-25 goals the next season after he scored 13 in 75 games in 2009-10. However, Regin struggled mightily, scoring only three times in 55 games.


A nagging shoulder injury was a contributing factor (and he played only 10 games in 2011-12 because of it), but he simply didn’t provide the offensive consistency in 2010-11 that Ottawa was hoping for. Now that he is fully healthy, perhaps he makes for a solid sleeper pick. The Senators have a number of talented young forwards in their system, and the 26-year-old Dane has quickly become a forgotten man.




Rostislav Olesz/Lauri Tukonen (Warning Sign – The Hype Machine) Tukonen

I didn’t know much about either of these two prospects before their draft year of 2004. Tukonen went 11th overall to the Kings, and Olesz 7th overall to the Panthers. Olesz now plays in the AHL, but he at least has carved out a decent NHL career (57 goals in 355 games). Tukonen suited up for a grand total of five games with the Kings, recording no points.


I fell victim to the hype train that rolls around every December – known as the World Junior Championship. I now use the WJC as one of my primary ways to sell high on young assets, and I learned the hard way by buying high on Tukonen (in my first ever keeper league I moved Cam Ward straight across for him).


The World Junior tournament is probably my favorite hockey to watch – the intensity, the passion, and the skill is an unbeatable combination. Because it is a short tournament, the players push themselves to play at a higher level compared to regular season games. This may create false/inaccurate expectations for some of these players, especially from poolies who own them/want to own them.

Olesz hasn’t materialized as the next Marian Hossa (I’d take Marcel at this point), and Tukonen failed to live up to the promise of this 2004 scouting report:


A very talented player. Good size Terrific skater with lots of explosiveness for a big man, and is very hard to knock off the puck. Blessed with a massive frame, Tukonen likes to be physically challenged and is a punishing hitter who has no trouble handling the rough stuff. Also highly skilled, he is a shifty puckhandler with a lethal shot and solid passing skills. One of his main assets is his good hockey sense and vision. Possesses natural goal-scorer instincts. Despite his terrific offensive arsenal, Tukonen is not one-dimensional as he does come back to help out the defense as well.




Jon Blum (Warning Sign – Exposure Effect)

I saw Blum play for the Vancouver Giants as he blossomed from a lanky rookie defenseman into the most dominant offensive defenseman in the WHL. He played with poise, smarts, and terrific instincts at both ends of the ice.


However, he has been a disappointment in pro hockey. Is it too early to write him off? You bet. However, I fell victim to what is known as the exposure effect.


The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle.

Because I saw Blum play a lot, I inflated both his ability and upside.


What prospects and/or players have you been wrong about, and why?


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martmart said:

grrrrrrrrrr Robbie Schremp and Cameron Mann!!!!!!!!! Boy, was I wrong!!!! I paid big-time to get these 2!!!
November 09, 2012
Votes: +1

MacLiii said:

... I would have to say that my worse one was Nikita Filatov who probably falls into both the Rushed and Hype Warnings
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

angus said:

... Selling high is never easy, which is why so many people never do it.

I'm not saying to create warning signs, but if a player starts to show a few of them, perhaps its time to readjust opinion.
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

jsuites said:

... It’s always interesting to look back with 20/20 hindsight, but if we applied these scenarios to today’s prospects/young players, we’d probably be wrong at least half the time and end up giving up on players too soon. Those are the mistakes I would rather avoid. Instead of getting nervous and cutting bait because of “warning signs” that might be benign, I'd rather pick my guys and keep the faith until proven otherwise.
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

The Next Step My own experience with 95%+ of prospects is that we can't make an educated assumption about their NHL fantasy-value based on what we've seen in any non-NHL league. The exceptions are the Tavares or Stamkos or Seguin or Crosby... if a player absolutely dominates a junior level and is drafted #1 or #2, you know they are the real deal. But that's about it for my true-confidence level, top 3 draft picks that dominated their levels. For me, I'm only confident about guys coming out of the OHL & WHL. A 2nd or 3rd overall pick out of the QMJHL still has some iffy-ness... IMO. Also a 2nd or 3rd overall pick from the USHL or NCAA or overseas... still could be iffy... IMO. (except for a year when you have Ovechkin/Malkin, say).

So - all that said, I see way too many people on the boards who have strong opinions that guys selected outside of the top 3 are going to be rock-solid in the NHL. I've never owned Filatov or Kadri or Pouliot in any leagues.

Last year, I remember a thread where a guy had the opportunity to trade up to #2 and select Landeskog or wait at #3 and take Rundblad. The consensus had him waiting for Rundblad (a guy who dominated a water-down SEL).

The biggest problem in prospects (or anything) is that we invest time into studying something/somebody and then decide we need to invest physically in that something. Sometimes we have to spend time analyzing/studying and then stop and say... this is worthless and I shouldn't be investing.

I can't really name a player I've been wrong about... because I'm really hesitant to comment "positively" about any prospect until I've seen them play 5 games in the NHL (or unless they are part of that ELITE 5% of #1-#3 overall picks that I trust).

But... (one last thought in this ramble)... a lot of leagues these days do have prospect rosters, so it is important to discuss "who is better/best of the bunch". We just simply have to separate from saying "JoeSchmoe will make it in the NHL" - so often.

My 2 cents.
November 09, 2012
Votes: -1

TavesSoul said:

... Chistov, oh man, I definitely remember him. I loved him in Anaheim, and then he just fizzled out. That was definitely the WJC effect, as was my love for Alexander Svitov, who went two spots ahead of him in the 2001 Draft.

Steve Eminger was an exposure effect guy. Watched a ton of him with the Kitchener Rangers, and should have taken into account that he was playing with a stacked team.

And Frolik. Guys a bust at this point who's had all the opportunity in the world. I thought he'd be a lot better.

Finally, and this isn't for me, but having lived in Toronto, every Maple Leafs fan was guilty on the Justin Pogge front. I cannot tell you how many people thought he'd be by far a superior goalie to Rask, and felt he'd be an all-star goalie.
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

Onetimer said:

Hugh Jessiman I was fooled by the hype around Hugh Speciman. Thought he might have been a great talent who had it all. Boy was i wrong...
November 09, 2012
Votes: +0

mormerod said:

... Todd Harvey
Inthe lock out 95 WJC he was the best player on the ice. And he was a local hamilton bot to boot. I pegged him as thte next Pat Verbeek. Instead he was the next James Vanderbeek.
November 09, 2012
Votes: +2

DuklaNation said:

... Beware of more talented linemates. Is the player strong on the puck? Watch his offensive moves/style, will it translate to the NHL?
November 08, 2012
Votes: +0

Rad64 said:

... I was a Moller fan as well. He was awesome playing for Team Sweden.

One thing you might add, Jeff, is the right situation. Sometimes being rushed into the NHL isn't a bad thing if you are put in the right situation. Moller was an offensive guy and may have fit in better with a team like Florida or Columbus where he could have been handed a top six role.

Another Kings player I like is Andrei Loktionov...same situation.

Cody Franson - big guy - offensive - decent stats per minutes played. I was sure this guy would be a 45 pt d-man with decent periperals by now.

Michael Frolik - this guy is looking like a failed prospect. He hasn't had the injuries to fall back on and he has had opportunity.
Tomas Tatar - still waiting

November 08, 2012
Votes: +1

Loki said:

... I think I have one hopefully someone remembers...Stanislav Chistov.
He was supposed to be the "Russian Paul Kariya".
Now, whenever I hear "this guys the next (fill in blank) I cringe.
November 08, 2012
Votes: +2
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