Fantasy Hockey Mailbag

The Life and Fantasy Hockey Mailbag – Owen Power, Kevin Lankinen, Alex Nedeljkovic

Welcome to the LFH mailbag, where all your burning fantasy questions are answered moderately well by Spencer Plamondon, co-host of the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast.

2021 prospects worth tanking for in Keeper leagues? What to do with Kevin Lankinen? How about Alex Nedeljkovic? Late season waiver-wire targets good for boosting goal totals?

LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! *head bangs to Rage Against the Machine*

I’m in a Keeper league where we draft prospects. Who’s worth tanking for in next year’s draft? – Terry T.

This year is as tough as any in history to get an accurate read on prospects, and to top it off this class is expected to be a weaker one. Then again, if you can’t get an accurate read on prospects, how the f*ck are you going to know if the class on a whole is going to be a weaker one? These are the questions.

If there’s a big name this year, it’s Owen Power (D – Michigan, Big-10), and there’s good reason for that. He’s a smooth skating, six-foot-five, two-way defenceman with an offensive bent to his game. As an 18 year old rookie playing against men in the NCAA, he finished with 16 points in 26 games while playing behind Cam York on the Wolverines’ blue line. He projects to be a mobile, point producing Top 4 defenceman at the NHL level. A “B-level Victor Hedman” seems to the be consensus ceiling on him.

Owen Power

Luke Hughes (D – USNTDP, USDP/USHL) is starting to make people question themselves. For the longest time, he was viewed as the least of the Hughes Brothers, but that perception is really shifting. Nearly a full year younger than Power, he’s one of the youngest in this draft class and his game is coming together in a way that has some comparing him to younger brother Quinn. The big difference? Quinn is 5’9. Luke is 6’2, but with the same elite skating and a strong offensive game. That’s really enticing, so much so that some have him in the top slot of their most recent draft rankings.

Luke Hughes

Kent Johnson (C – Michigan, Big-10) is the forward with the highest ceiling offensively in this draft. As an 18 year old, he stepped onto the NCAA scene this year to the tune of 9G and 27PTS in 26GP, drawing Mitch Marner/Patrick Kane comparisons in the process. He’s got creativity for days.

Kent Johnson

If I had to pick one more guy, it would be Jesper Wallstedt (G – Lulea, SHL). I’m hesitant to pick a goalie because they’re so damn hard to project, but Wallstedt has looked good this year. Playing as a starting goalie in the SHL at 18 is a huge statement. Having a winning record and standing tall for the better part of the year is just the icing on top.

Jesper Wallstedt

Is Lanky Kevin (Kevin Lankinen) done? Was his strong start just a hot streak? – TwoManKayak

Lanky Kevin sounds like an associate of Doug Judy from Brooklyn Nine Nine. I like it.

God, let me tell you how far from the right place you’ve come to get answers on the subject of goalies. I have no idea. Do any of us, really? Goalies are such a mystery. They’ve been a real weak spot for me this year.

Lankinen’s been better lately after a cooling off period that followed his torrid start. Chicago as a whole has been punching above its weight class all season, and they’re starting to slip a bit as Columbus, Nashville and Dallas look to overtake them. Will they hold them off? Time will tell.

I’d keep it touch and go with him. He’s been good enough overall to warrant holding for the time being. If you continue to notice a downward trend and there are intriguing options available, make the move.

Kevin Lankinen

Due to early season injuries to my first & second round picks and some underpeforming players in my lineup, I find myself at the bottom of the heap in goals as we round the turn. Are there any good pickups out there for the back half of the schedule who might get my goals up? – Allan C.

The first two guys I’m going to pump here are a couple of rookies in Jason Robertson (DAL) and Eeli Tolvanen (NSH). I mentioned them briefly in last week’s mailbag and they’ve continued their strong play since, with each getting currently getting first line & top power play deployment.

Jason Robertson

They’re still low rostered – 23% for Robertson, 33% for Tolvanen – but I don’t expect that to last much longer. In the last month, Robertson has 4G, 11A, 1PPG, 3PPP and Tolvanen has 6G, 7A, 4PPG, 7PPP. I realize those aren’t huge goal totals from Robertson, but he’s been a goal scorer at every level throughout his career and his deployment is only now reaching high levels. I expect more goals to come in relatively short order.

Eeli Tolvanen

Nick Ritchie (BOS) has had himself a nice season thus far, though you wouldn’t have known it at any point based on his rostered %. He’s slowed down of late, but continues to see top power play deployment on one of the league’s best units. As long as he’s in that spot, the production will likely bounce back. He’s got 9G, 8A, 5PPG, 9PPP on the year, and is widely available at 15% rostered. He hits as well, if you’re looking for that.

Nick Ritchie

Finally, Martin Necas (CAR) is quietly having a great season while sitting at just 46% 66% rostered. In the past month, he’s got 7G, 10A, 3PPG & 5PPP. Playing on a line with Sebastian Aho is big for anyone, but Necas has got star potential in his own right. Scoop him up if you can.

Martin Necas

What should I do with Nedeljkovic once Mrazek comes back? – TwoManKayak

Man, so many goalie questions.

Nedeljkovic has been excellent this year, making a strong case to the ‘Canes that not only is he their goalie of the future, but that the future is now.

The big question, however, is what direction management would like to go in. Petr Mrazek (a pending UFA) was playing lights out hockey before succumbing to injury earlier in the season, and it remains to be seen how committed they are to him moving forward.

Add the 13-4 James Reimer to the mix, and you’ve got a helluva crowded crease.

With the deadline fast approaching, I’d hold Ned for now. With Mrazek nearing a return, I wonder if they don’t test the market on Reimer. If he’s moved, you’re all set. If they decide to stick to that trio, I’d look to swap Ned out, or trade him. I can’t stand goalie trios, personally.

Alex Nedeljkovic

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