NHL Prospects

The perils of projecting prospects on preseason hockey

In 2011, an 18-year-old Mark Scheifele led the Winnipeg Jets in preseason scoring with four goals and eight points in five games, just months removed from being the surprise pick of the top 10. 

When the real games started, he lasted just seven games before Winnipeg decided he wasn’t ready. He played just four NHL games the next season, and it took another two years before he became the top-six centre that he’s been for the better part of the last decade. 

Just about every preseason, there’s a Scheifele or two: A preseason hero. Someone who surprises with their details and skill level, but clearly wasn’t ready to move to the NHL full-time. 

This year has been a particularly good year for preseason heroes. Among them: Matthew Poitras, Fraser Minten, and Nate Danielson.

Based on history, it’s probably best that these players return to the CHL. Likewise, it’s important to remember that preseason success doesn’t equate future NHL success, especially for players who have yet to establish themselves as play drivers in juniors or develop the necessary layers to translate. 

For every Scheifele-level standout, there’s a Jack Studnicka or Sergei Shirokov – two players who blew minds years ago in preseason but struggled to become impactful NHL players. 

Similarly, the timelines that preseason suggests for the non-elite prospects often don’t come true.

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NHL Prospects NHL NHL Rookies Boston Bruins Chicago Blackhawks Columbus Blue Jackets Detroit Red Wings Detroit Red Wings Montréal Canadiens Montréal Canadiens Toronto Maple Leafs NHL WHL OHL QMJHL Owen Beck Kirby Dach Nate Danielson Jordan Dumais Henri Jokiharju Hendrix Lapierre Victor Mete Fraser Minten Matthew Poitras Cole Sillinger Blake Speers Owen Tippett
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