Campbell: Top 20 Rookies (Part 1)

Grant Campbell

2021-01-04

Happy New Year and welcome to 2021! I hope everyone is enjoying junior hockey and are getting ready for January 13th.

One of the many great things about writing a weekly column is that I can look back and see how right or wrong I was about certain things. Take my predictions for last year's rookies, I did have Dominik Kubalik (#16 on my list), Victor Olofsson (#15), Quinn Hughes (#4) and Cale Makar (#2), but whiffed on Adam Fox, Nick Suzuki, John Marino, Mackenzie Blackwood and had Jack Hughes at #1 and Kaapo Kakko at #3. One lesson learned is don't overestimate what an 18-year-old can do in their rookie season as it is very rare to have someone step in and dominate.

Dobber has his own Top 50 rookies list in the Fantasy Guide, and David Hall also chimes in with 20 picks of his own in there. But I thought I would take a crack at it again myself.

Here is part one of my top 20:

#20 – Alexander Romanov – (D) – Montreal

The 20-year-old 38th overall pick in 2018 has Montreal fans excited to have him with the team after two seasons and 86 games in the KHL as a teenager. His offensive ceiling might not be as high as some of the other rookie defensemen, but he should be a solid top-six pairing who will be able to step up if either Shea Weber or Jeff Petry get injured. He should play 16-18 minutes per game and in a 56-game season might see 15-25 points.

#19 – Grigori Denisenko – (F) – Florida

The 20-year-old 15th overall pick in 2018 by Florida could benefit from the departures of Mike Hoffman and Evgeni Dadonov but with the addition of Anthony Duclair, it appears that he and Owen Tippett will be battling for the one spot available. He was not skating in the KHL this season but did manage six goals and six assists in 38 games last season in a year he captained Russia in the WJC. The Panthers won't taxi squad him should he not make the team, so this a risky pick as it could be all or nothing for 20-25 points in 56 games.

#18 –