Wild West: Top Rookies in the West

Grant Campbell

2021-12-20

Some of the names in lineups might not be recognizable during a few of the games from this past week as teams have been forced to scramble and get a few AHL players signed under NHL deals to allow them to play. I'm sure this has played havoc with most fantasy pools.

This week I'm going to look at some of the top rookies in the West and see where I had them from my top 20 picks from before the season.

The 19-year-old Lucas Raymond in Detroit leads the NHL in rookie scoring after 31 games and has 10 goals and 18 assists so far. I made a mistake in my rookie predictions and only had him as an honorable mention as I thought he might need a year or two in the NHL to get to the level he is at. I was as wrong as wrong can be.

The next rookie in scoring is Trevor Zegras in Anaheim. He was probably the consensus choice for top rookie and was my number one pick as well. He had a slow start, but has elevated his game and now has eight goals and 17 assists after 30 games. He is on pace for 22 goals and 68 points. I still think he will pull ahead of Raymond and win the Calder, but it should be a close race.

Jamie Drysdale is in Anaheim as well and I had him as my 17th overall rookie in the pre-season. I thought he would be a little more sheltered than he has been and after struggling in his first eight games, Drysdale has picked up his defensive game. I had him pegged for 25-35 points and he is on pace for 36 after his first 32 games. His even-strength production has been better than I expected, but his power-play production hasn't been as much as I hoped with Kevin Shattenkirk playing ahead of him. Drysdale could have a very good second half of the season and surge to 40 plus points.

I had recognized Tanner Jeannot last season as a multi-category threat but I didn't think he would be amongst the top rookies in points. After 30 games, he has eight goals nine assists and 92 hits. He's on pace for 22 goals, 24 assists and 251 hits. Not a bad rookie year.

Karel Vejmelka was my 9th pick on my rookie list. I thought he would get an opportunity to play between 35 and 50 games and get 12 to 20 wins. I should have taken more into account how bad the Arizona Coyotes were going to be. Vejmelka has played 16 of the 29 games to date which puts him on pace for 46 games. Unfortunately, he has only two wins which put the goal of 12 wins in jeopardy. He's been average, which has been better than any other goalie in Arizona this year.

Dan Vladar in Calgary has only played seven games this year but has shined with five wins, a save percentage of 92.8 and a GSAA of 3.22. If Jakob Markstrom tires or gets injured, there is an excellent opportunity for Vladar this year.

Alex Newhook has had a chance to play this year in Colorado and has looked good in 18 games with six goals and 10 points. I had him as #14 on my pre-season list and figured he could get between 30-40 points but would struggle to get more than 12-14 minutes per night. So far, this season he has averaged 13:45 per night and because he has missed nine games he pro-rates to about 39 points.