Wild West: Campbell Top 20 Rookies 2021-22 – Part One

Grant Campbell

2021-10-04

This will be my third season of trying to pin down the top 20 rookies and it is always much more difficult than it seems. I have over-reached on some 18-year-olds and just flat missed on some great rookies the past two seasons. The flip side is that I did have Pius Suter #17, Jason Robertson #12 last season. I can also say that I had Kirill Kaprizov as #1, but then who didn't?

Dobber has his own Top 50 rookies list in the Fantasy Guide, and Hadi Kalakeche also lists his Calder Trophy candidates there. Once again, I thought I would take a crack at it again myself.

The aspects I tend to focus on are ice time, player ceiling and opportunity. Even though I might like a rookie, if all they're facing is 8-10 minutes per game on the 4th line, then it's going to be difficult for them to produce at a level to be included here. I'd rather take a chance on a relatively unknown rookie that might get top-six minutes and potential power-play time. This is a very deep rookie class this season so there are about 40-50 rookies that could be included here.

Good examples of some exclusions are Robin Salo, Bowen Byram, Scott Perunovich, Alex Turcotte, Cam York, Peyton Krebs and Quinton Byfield. For any of these players to get minutes, let alone top minutes in the NHL, a few players would need to go down with injuries combined with these players being at the top of their games and right now it just seems unlikely.

Here is part one of my top 20:

#20 – Vasily Podkolzin (F) – Vancouver

There were and are some legitimate concerns about the offensive upside of the 10th overall pick in 2019. Podkolzin has had a fairly quiet pre-season for the Canucks, but he is still pencilled into their starting lineup as his defensive positioning and work ethic are NHL ready. The Canucks will give him every chance to succeed and with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes re-signing, Podkolzin should settle down the lineup as a 3rd or 4th line winger to begin his career. I would pencil him in for 10-15 goals and 25-30 points this year.

#19 – Arttu Ruotsalainen (F) – Buffalo

Ruotsalainen is 23 years old and is in the last year of his entry-level contract with Buffalo. He's only 5'9" and 185 lbs but has scored 52 goals in his last 122 games with Ilves in the Finnish Liiga. He played 17 games with the Sabres last season and had five goals and six points after posting 13 points in 13 AHL games. This is a bit of a risky pick, in that he might be sent to the AHL to start as he doesn't need to clear waivers. The other side to the coin is that he also might get some top-line minutes and power-play time in the NHL to start. If he sticks he could get 15-20 goals and 30-35 points.

#18 – Moritz Seider (D) – Detroit

Seider was a bit of a surprise when Detroit took him 6th o