The Journey: McTavish, Lapierre, Seider and More Shine in NHL Debuts

Hadi Kalakeche

2021-10-16

Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.

This week, I wanted to highlight the wave of rookies playing their first-ever NHL games and how well they've been able to adjust to the league's high tempo and pressure. Some of the names below have already added their name to the scoresheet after only one game played, and are convincing their teams that they are pro-ready NHL prospects.

Starting off, a prospect I was admittedly wrong about:

Mason McTavish, C/LW — Anaheim Ducks

If you would have told me at the 2021 NHL Draft that McTavish was going to be an opening night roster player for the Ducks this season, I honestly would have laughed. McTavish seemed at least two years away from being ready in my mind, and I questioned how quickly he rose up every single draft board, but he proved me so very wrong in his very first period in the NHL. The 6-1, 207-pound prospect snuck into the slot for a rebound, and scored his first-ever goal for the Ducks.

McTavish's greatest improvement came in his skating ability, where he truly struggled in early viewings but now manages to keep up with the NHL pace and use his brain to enter pockets of space at the right moments. His shot is a tremendous weapon from any distance, and he can release the puck very quickly to surprise goaltenders — his involvement in transitions was also on display in his first game, as he connected with teammates well when carrying the puck through the neutral zone. McTavish will likely play his nine-trial games and return to the OHL, but is closer than I had initially anticipated to being an NHL goal-scoring center.

Hendrix Lapierre, C/LW — Washington Capitals

Another prospect who scored his first NHL goal in his first game, Lapierre first managed to force the team's hand and take part in the team's opening game against the Rangers by