2018 Trade Deadline: Best Project Prospects Available
As the 2018 Trade Deadline approaches, many teams will scramble to make moves that will not only help them in their quest for the Stanley Cup this year, but in the years to come. A popular saying is to buy low and sell high, and general managers, such as Jim Benning, seem to make a trend of “buying low”, acquiring the likes of Sven Baertschi, Marcus Granlund, Nikolay Goldobin, and Derrick Pouliot. I like to call these “Project Prospects”; somebody who hasn’t met their draft expectations, or who just can’t seem to figure it out in their current system. It’s not to say that acquiring project prospects is a slam dunk, realistically those players aren’t ever going to meet their draft potential, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t become a vital part of your organization for a much lower trade value than they used to hold. I’m not saying that the players listed in this article are on the trading block or are being heavily shopped, but all of the players listed below could benefit from a change of scenery.
Jacob De La Rose, LW, MTL, 34th overall 2013, Age: 22
Montreal never expected Jacob De La Rose to be an electric top 6 forward. The left winger was expected to hover between the 2nd and 3rd lines, bringing a strong two way game and some offence to the table. So far he hasn’t been fitting well into the Canadien’s systems. He has bounced between the NHL and AHL for the past 4 seasons and has found himself on the NHL roster this year, averaging the lowest ice time on the team. According to an article by Kyle Medeiros, Montreal allows the highest number of dangerous shots when Jacob De La Rose is on the ice, while rarely taking on the opposition’s top eight skaters by ice time. He is clearly in need of some sort of change, whether it be new line mates or a new team. You never know when you’ve got Marc Bergevin at the helm.
Slater Koekkoek, D, TBL, 10th overall 2012, Age: 23
The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to add to their defence at this year’s deadline, which would push 23 year old Slater Koekkoek even further down the depth chart. He currently sits at 8th on the Lightning’s defensive depth and has only averaged 10:56 TOI in the games he has played. Koekkoek hasn’t been able to crack the roster full time in the past few seasons and has had three shoulder surgeries since his draft year. It is quite possible that moving to a new team and getting the shot full time in the NHL could really benefit him and the acquiring team moving forward. It’s been known that defensemen take longer to develop, and maybe with the right system Slater Koekkoek could go back to being that fantastic skating defenseman with a hard and accurate shot that he was known for when he was first drafted.
Mirco Mueller, D, NJD, 18th overall 2013, Age: 22
In the summer, Mirco Mueller was brought in to the Devil’s organization for a top 6 defensive role, as the Sharks stood to lose him in the expansion draft. Since then, the 2013 18th overall pick has been sidelined with a fractured collar bone, just recently being cleared to play. He has mostly been an AHL player so far in his pro career, gathering only 67 NHL games over 4 seasons, 39 of which came in 2014/15 for the Sharks. Now with the acquisition of Sami Vatanen and the emergence of Will Butcher, Mueller has been pushed out of the Devil’s top 6. Mirco Mueller has played well in his AHL career so far but to take the next step into the NHL he needs ice time and consistency, which he may only find on a different NHL roster.
Jason Dickinson, C/LW, DAL, 29th overall 2013, Age: 22
Constantly lighting the lamp in the AHL this season with 16 goals in 31 games, Jason Dickinson has been wanting to crack the Star’s lineup for the past three seasons. The former first round pick has seen a slight decline in points: 2015/16 0.76pts/g, 2016/17 0.52pts/g, and 2017/18 0.68pts/g. Dickinson has been given a few opportunities in the show, sometimes filling in for an injured Jason Spezza, but he hasn’t been able to stick around due to his mere 3 points in a total of 18 NHL games. He’s able to bring a physical yet offensive game, standing at 6’2, 205lbs, so if a team is able to acquire this project prospect from the Stars and give him the chance to make it or break it with NHL ice time, I think they should take the chance.
Michael Dal Colle, LW, NYI, 5th overall 2014, Age: 21
Once upon a time Michael Dal Colle was highly touted as one of the best prospects in his draft year but he has since earned the title of bust. In two seasons of AHL hockey, he’s declined in point totals which isn’t a good sign for a player who’s whole style of play is offence. Currently he holds 18 points in 34 games this season which gives him 8th on his team, though it was good enough to earn him his first sniff at the NHL. He currently sits on the NYI roster and has been held pointless in his only 4 games, which has caused him to become a healthy scratch. It is hard to pinpoint what has gone wrong for the player who in his draft year was said to have “mind-blowing playmaking abilities” Maybe with the Islanders looking to shore up on defence at the trade deadline, Michael Dal Colle might find himself with a change of scenery.
Josh Ho-Sang, RW, NYI, 28th overall 2014, Age: 22
After falling in the draft due to attitude issues, the New York Islanders traded up to acquire Josh Ho-Sang. Now he finds himself falling in their Depth Chart. Everybody has heard about the infamous day 1 of training camp alarm clock issue, but besides his off the ice issues, Ho-Sang has had a good season. While bouncing between the show and the minors, he has 12 points in 22 NHL games and 15 points in 20 AHL games. You think that would be impressive enough to earn some time with the big club due to all their injuries? No. He has earned himself the healthy scratch treatment in the AHL recently. Rubbing salt in the would, head coach of the Isles said “It’s a crying shame he’s not playing with John Tavares when Bails goes down. We had six guys out. It was a perfect opportunity, and Josh should be upset with himself.” He has got a great offensive instinct and can produce at most levels of the game, but clearly it won't happen in the New York Islanders organization due to his off-ice issues.