This week we will focus on the top ten in our two-part at the top 20 rookies for 2019-2020. As of writing this column we still have all of our part one rookies still up with the NHL teams (Joel Persson was injured in the Oilers pre-season game and we’re unsure of the severity but sounds like a concussion or shoulder). Here is my top ten:
10 – Martin Necas – (W) – Carolina
Necas will more than likely start on the fourth line with Carolina and will struggle with minutes early on if he is slotted in at center. Wing is always an option as well to start and this could allow him a little higher ceiling short term. He had a very good first season in the AHL with Charlotte with 52 points in 64 regular season games and 13 points in 18 playoff games culminating in winning the Calder Cup. If he plays center I would limit him to 25-30 points but on the wing he could see 35-45.
9 – Erik Brannstrom – (D) – Ottawa
As the main piece in return when Ottawa traded Mark Stone to Vegas, he faces some pretty high expectations from fans in Ottawa. He’s a small, mobile and highly-skilled left shot defenceman that Ottawa needs desperately to hold his own in the NHL next season. He acquitted himself well in 50 games in the AHL with seven goals and 25 assists (a 52 point pace). I don’t think he will be that prolific with Ottawa, but he should be able to reach 30 points as he is their second-best option on the PP, behind Thomas Chabot. He is no different than a few players in the top 20 as he will just need to survive the rigours of the NHL over a full season before he fills out physically in order to be productive.
8 – Elvis Merzlikins – (G) – Columbus
Merzlikins should be the starter in Columbus this season ahead of Joonas Korpisalo but I’m a little leery of the transition from the Swiss League (NLA) directly to the NHL. I see more of a 50/50 split for the two goalies and more for Merzlikins if he adapts well early on. He is also inheriting a C