The key to making money on the stock market is buying a stock right before it takes off. Dividends are nice, but nothing beats the return of buying low and selling high. The same goes for fantasy hockey; it’s nice to have good players on your team, but when you’ve acquired them with shrewd, late picks, you’re bound to move to the top of the heap in your pool.
Waiting until after a prospect has a breakout year, or lights it up at the world junior tournament means everybody knows about him. A year ago, Phoenix defense prospect Maxim Goncharov was on everybody’s draft lists because he had a breakout performance at the world junior tournament in Ottawa.
This year, guys like Jeremy Morin or Brandon Pirri will be snapped up quickly but could have been had last year at much cheaper rates.
So, even if you’re in a league that doesn’t allow you to draft guys before they’re drafted by the NHL, there’s still plenty of projection to do. Most hockey players make their biggest leaps in development after they’re drafted by the NHL. They don’t all do it at the same time, but many take huge leaps as 18-year-olds and some dominate as 19-year-olds, but be careful that you don’t overrate based on statistics, because a fourth-year major junior player should dominate at 19.
Defensemen, especially, develop at different rates and many of them don’t develop their offence until later. In many systems, defensemen have to learn to play defense and only the early bloomers or the smaller, whirling dervish types get to strut their offensive skills. The larger, pro-style defensemen often have to settle for second-rate minutes or no time on the power-play – which is where defensemen accumulate most of their points.
A defense prospect like Alexander Urbom never really showed much offense while playing in Sweden. He scored 11 points in 16 as a junior in his draft year before moving up to the Swedish Elite League where he didn’t score a point in 28 games. The New Jersey Devils made him a project by taking him in the third round of the 2009 draft and the lanky blueliner came over to the CHL and played for the Memorial Cup host Brandon Wheat Kings where he had a breakout first season in North America.
He was the second leading scorer among defenseman on the Wheat Kings behind Colby Robak with 12 goals and 21 assists. Robak was the quarterback amassed 66 points, but he was in his fourth year in the WHL. Urbom was the same age, but was a WHL rookie, so that should be considered. Together, Robak and Urbom helped form an impressive big three in the playoffs with Travis Hamonic.
Urbom has great size at six-foot-three and will fill out his 195-pound frame. He has a good wrist shot, and he also possesses a bomb from the point. Like most tall players, he’ll need to work on getting it away more quickly. His skating is OK, but he reads the game very well so that helps compensate for his lack of mobility. He moves the mark smartly and makes good decisions with the puck and was touted by ISS in his draft year has having some “offensive upside” which he showed last year in Brandon.
He’s big and strong and does well in one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net. He is well-schooled defensively and shouldn’t have any trouble fitting in with New Jersey.
It’s likely he’ll spend a year in the AHL, but the Devils are thin on offensive-minded defense prospects and Urbom could be on the fast track to the NHL. If he doesn’t make it this year, I’d bet a fair chunk of change on him making it next year.
So, don’t wait until next year to get someone who could be the next Alex Edler. Buy now before the rush and stash him on your farm if you can.