If you haven't yet had the chance to soak in Chris Peters' fabulous top 100 NHL prospects rankings, you should find some time. It's invaluable (E+) content for both dynasty and redraft fantasy managers. While some of the knowledge imparted by Peters will take some time to pay off in redraft formats, plenty of the information is relevant today.
Whether or not they made the cut for Peters' list, there are several young NHL stars currently honing their game just one step below the NHL. Players in the AHL deserve a little extra attention from fantasy managers because they could be just a phone call away from getting their chance to shine.
With that in mind, here are a few guys who, although they were on the radar this past September (even in redraft formats), for whatever reason didn't stick with their NHL club and are playing in the AHL right now. I've selected them as having the most upside for fantasy leagues this season -- should they get the opportunity.
Henrik Borgstrom, C, Florida Panthers: The Panthers simply don't need another center, otherwise Borgstrom would be in the NHL right now. He's wasted as a checking-line player, and the Panthers boast Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck down the middle already. With the Springfield Thunderbirds in his first pro season, Borgstrom (11 points in seven games) is tied for the rookie scoring lead in the AHL. The only non-rookies with more points have all played between one and three more games than he has. An injury would be the obvious reason for a promotion for Borgstrom, but at this rate, he could force his way onto the team's third line on merit alone. That said, an injury to Barkov or Trocheck is likely the only scenario where those in redraft leagues should get excited.
Alexander Nylander, W, Buffalo Sabres: It would be unexpected if Alexander starts getting some time in the NHL this season before his brother, William Nylander, who is still in a contract showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Alexander hasn't shown the offensive upside of William, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. In fact, in his third AHL campaign now, Nylander has started with nine points through his first 10 games. The Sabres have a lot of flexibility on the wing, and it's not hard to envision them giving Nylander a chance if the team struggles to develop scoring when Jack Eichel is not on the ice. With Nylander's burgeoning talent and the opportunities that could exist on the Sabres depth chart, I think he's a must-add for deeper leagues when he gets the call.
Erik Brannstrom, D, Vegas Golden Knights: If the Golden Knights don't start getting consistent offensive assistance from someone on the blue line, they could find themselves looking to Brannstrom sooner rather than later. Nick Holden currently leads all Vegas blue-liners with three assists in 11 games. That's not good enough. The offensively gifted Brannstrom has seven points in seven games in the AHL and could soon be called upon to help the NHL club. Shea Theodore and Colin Miller are officially on notice!
Dylan Sikura, W, Chicago Blackhawks: Expected to open the season for the Blackhawks among the top six, the emergence of Dominik Kahun meant Sikura was AHLbound. Playing on the Rockford IceHogs with his brother, Tyler, has to be comfortable for Sikura -- and it clearly has been. He has seven points through his first seven games, playing top-line minutes and on the power play with his brother. Kahun has looked solid on the top line with Jonathan Toews for Chicago, but the second line is far from locked down. If Sikura gets promoted and is given a shot at playing with Patrick Kane, fantasy managers should be interested.
Eeli Tolvanen, W, Nashville Predators: There's no denying Tolvanen's immense talent, but the Predators are in no hurry to have him join the team's offense, opting instead to give him experience on the smaller North American ice. Tolvanen's dominance in Finland and the KHL came on the larger, Olympic-size ice surface, so playing in the AHL is good experience for what is a sped up and more physical game. He recently was quoted by The Tennessean as "probably not" bolting for the KHL this season as is allowed in his contract now that he's played 10 AHL games. He has one goal and seven points through 10 games in the minors and said he's getting more comfortable as things roll along. An outburst of scoring could find him in line for a promotion later this season. If he shows he's adapted to the smaller rink, there's no reason to keep seasoning him down on the farm.
Filip Zadina, W, Detroit Red Wings: Unfortunately, Zadina has started off slow. While his defensive work was not a concern coming into the season, he has posted a team-worst minus-9 rating for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. Zadina has four points in eight games, too, but that's being overshadowed by the poor rating. The Red Wings could certainly use an offensive boost, but for an NHL club also mightily struggling with preventing goals, Zadina might not be on the immediate radar.
Forwards on the move
Mitch Marner, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (down nine spots to No. 34): Auston Matthews' shoulders are quickly becoming an issue. Out for at least a month, his absence cascades throughout the Toronto lineup. Marner gets one of the bigger downgrades, as he goes from playing with John Tavares to playing with Nazem Kadri as his center. That's still good, but not quite at the same level. Kasperi Kapanen, meanwhile, is an interesting beneficiary of the injury, as he loses Matthews but gains both Tavares and power-play minutes.
Dustin Brown, W, Los Angeles Kings (up 26 spots to No. 39): Back on the Kings' top line with Anze Kopitar, Brown scored a goal and played 22:17 in his 2018-19 debut. Yes, his fantasy production is tied to his role with Kopitar, but after the success they had together last season, he is all but locked into that role. Ilya Kovalchuk played down the lineup in the game, but there is even more potential for Brown if the Kings stack the depth chart with the trio all playing side-by-side in the near future.
Alexander Kerfoot, W/C, Colorado Avalanche (up 15 spots to No. 180): Tyson Jost has been sidelined with a head injury, and Kerfoot is getting a huge opportunity to add to his potential. You may not have noticed because of Jost's lack of production, but he's been playing the fifth-man role on Colorado's top power-play unit all season. Yes, that's the unit with the red-hot Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Until Jost returns, Kerfoot will fill that role. All he needs to do to cement it going forward is to do better than Jost's two power-play points in 11 games.
Defensemen on the move
Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins (steady at No. 57): With 59 points last season, Krug was an elite fantasy defenseman for the Bruins. But guess what: He's going to finish this October with better stats than he did last October, despite not yet playing a game this season. Expected to return to the Bruins lineup on Tuesday night, Krug is still on track to post numbers similar to last season because he had a horrific first month of the 2017-18 campaign. (Krug had just three points and a minus-9 rating in nine games last October.) The rest of the season, he managed 56 points and a plus-9 rating in 67 games.
Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (up 37 spots to No. 68): Back on the blue line ahead of schedule for the Blue Jackets, Jones is logging heavy minutes through his first three games. He already has a goal and has continued his torrid shooting pace. Now the question is whether he can wrestle the top power-play unit back from Zach Werenski. If he does, Jones has top-five fantasy upside. If he doesn't, he can still finish among the top-12 defensemen. That's a win-win situation if you can acquire him via trade.
Goaltender on the move
Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings (down 29 spots to No. 99): Back on the IR again after only about a week, Quick's lower-body injury is supposedly unrelated to the previous one he suffered on Oct. 6 in practice. This is not a good situation for a goaltender, as lower-body injuries tend to linger. Jack Campbell should be a target on waivers.
New to the rankings
Josh Manson, Derrick Pouliot (maturity meets opportunity with Elder out?), Zach Sanford, Kyle Okposo, Jason Pominville (he has value as long as he's Eichel-adjacent), Alex Tuch, Erik Johnson, Mike Green (until he gets hurt again) and Erik Haula.
Joel Eriksson Ek (still a goose egg), Alexander Wennberg, James Reimer, Hampus Lindholm, Pavel Buchnevich, Dylan Strome, Tyson Jost (hasn't capitalized on power play), Alexander Edler (out for up to six weeks) and Anders Nilsson.