Fantasy Hockey Impact- Top New Entry Level Contracts Signings Part I
by, 05-24-2012 at 10:09 (6783 Views)
About the List
Entry Level Contract signings bring in alot of hype both around both NHL teams and fantasy hockey teams for many. This is the first part of my five-part series on this topic that will feature 15 players.
This list is of what looks to be the best of the past year's ELC signings and only includes players that have not played in any regular season or post-season NHL games. Meaning that Brandon Saad, Mark Scheifele, Sean Couturier and others are not included. Prominent defender Justin Schultz has yet to sign so he is not included as well.
All of these players figure to be have a wide appeal to a variety of leagues; from prospect heavy keepers to one-year leagues. Later I will make a list of players that have more relevance to deep prospect keeper leagues.
1) Mikael Granlund (MIN) - Considered almost always be in the top three prospects in the world by most and often called the best prospect not playing in the NHL, Granlund's signing with Minnesota in May 2012 was a relief with so few top European talent coming over to North America recently.
While fellow super-prospects, Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov remain abroad, Granlund should jump right on to the Wild's second scoring line almost immediately. He lit up Finland's, SM-liiga with 51 points in 45 games this past season.
Known for his great hockey sense and elite playmaking skills, Granlund is a tough assignment for any defense. His decision-making exploits weaknesses that few others see and if you challenge him, he likely can make a pass to a teammate or stick-handle around most pressure.
One aspect of Granlund's game that could have an issue in the NHL is the narrower North American rink dimensions compared to those used internationally. His current skill set truly flourishes on larger ice surfaces but he is a smart enough player to figure out how to adapt. It may take some time but the Finnish forward figures to producing anywhere from 40-60 points next season most likely and could be reaching 80 points in a season in not too long.
2) Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA) - One of the players that occasionally factors into that conversation of the top three prospects not in the NHL is St. John Sea Dog forward, Huberdeau.
A late bloomer whose stock skyrocketed in his draft year, Huberdeau has great offensive and defensive skills. He has the ability to be a real game-breaker at any level he plays in.
He nearly averaged two points-per-game with 72 points in 37 QMJHL regular season games in the 2011-2012 season. Huberdeau, like the 2011 first overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, needs to prove that he can stay healthy while enduring the rigors of NHL play.
The situation for Huberdeau in Florida is advantageous but he is not unchallenged to become a top line center along with veteran Stephen Weiss. Huberdeau has to be considered the favorite to win the job over NCAA products, Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore. Bjugstad has yet to sign with the Panthers and may return to the University of Minnesota for his junior season. However both Shore and Bjugstad had very good numbers in NCAA play against older competition and their experience could give them an edge, especially in the short term.
No matter where he lands in the depth chart, at some point Huberdeau figures to be a major contributor in the NHL. He also can play left wing which could alleviate some of the pressure from the two collegiate players. He has great upside and could reach elite numbers some day in the NHL. The only question is how soon will he get there barring injuries.
3) Dougie Hamilton (BOS) - Considered as the best all-round defensive prospect in the world, Hamilton is a complete package. He has good size at 6'4'' and a great offensive game that earned him 72 points in 50 OHL regular season games for the Niagara IceDogs this past season. He is not extremely physical but had an impressive +37 in the 2011-2012 season showing he is good defensively as well.
The most exciting part of Hamilton's game for fantasy general managers that count penalty minutes, hits and blocked shots is that he could churn out multi-category production with all the tools he has as well as a ton of assists.
Another reason why he is so highly thought of is that he is going into perhaps the perfect system for a player with his attributes, the Boston Bruins. Boston's Head Coach, Claude Julien creates well-rounded responsible defenders and he hasn't had alot of top tier defensive prospects come to his team, outside of veteran Zdeno Chara. Julien and Chara will help Hamilton grow upon his base and become a dynamic force for years to come.