The Top 10 rookies in the NHL so far this season
When it comes to fantasy hockey, youth is king for some owners.
For some of us, potential is better than proven. Many managers are perpetually rebuilding, hoping to catch the next great thing.
Many hockey pools have some sort of rookie rule put into place. Maybe a league needs to dress a certain amount of rookies, or young guys can be stashed for a certain amount of games before he has to come off a farm team. With instant access to pretty much every player in the world, fantasy GMs know more about prospects now than ever.
So with that being said, as most NHL teams approach the 20-game mark, I figured this would be a good time to see what rookies are having the most success so far this season.
I know plenty of leagues that have different rules for rookies/farm teams (ie-must be less than 100 games played, or less than 150 games played, etc.), but for the purpose of this article, we’re looking specifically at players who would qualify as a rookie under NHL rules. So that means some guys that may count as rookies in your league (Jori Lehetra being the biggest name) won’t qualify for this list.
And remember, this list isn’t about how bright someone’s future in the NHL is, or whether one guy has more potential than the other. It’s simply a look at what rookies have performed the best so far this season.
10. Josh Jooris
Jooris doesn’t appear at the top of many category lists for rookies, but that’s because he’s played a third-less games than most other novices. Called up from the AHL in mid-October thanks to an injury to David Jones, Jooris’ play has kept him with the big club, and also on many fantasy owners team as well. Jooris scored in his debut, and now has four goals and seven points in 12 games. He’s also chipped in with 17 hits, two power play points and is a plus-one.
Severson’s stats look good overall, but he hasn’t been great for poolies in head-to-head matchups the last three weeks or so. Still, in roto or points-only leagues, he’s still up there in rookie stats. After scoring seven points in his first eight games, he has just one assist in his last 10. However, the opportunity is still there, and he has put decent numbers in almost every category, increasing his worth in leagues that are more than just points. So far, the defenceman has four goals, eight points, a plus-four, 10 pims and 47 shots.
8. Mike Hoffman
Truthfully, I thought at this point of the season it would have been a more-hyped Sens rookie on this list, but Hoffman is the one breaking through. Despite limited minutes (just 12:56 a game), Hoffman is in the top five of many rookie categories. He has seven goals (tied for second), a plus-eight (third), 38 shots (fourth) and 15 takeaways (tied for third).
Deslauriers may be the only fantasy –relevant forward with the Sabres this season, and it’s all because of his peripherals. Deslauriers is first among rookies with 65 hits and is actually sixth in the league in that category. And he’s first for rookies for penalty minutes with 28, and 25th in the league overall. So while he’s only scored one goal, four points and is a minus-three, he’s slowly becoming this season’s Radko Gudas.
6. Cedric Paquette
With each passing day, I start to believe more and more that Tampa Bay has a magic elixir that young guys have to drink in order to be successful in the NHL. No matter who they call up and where they are in the lineup, they always seem to deliver. Paquette has only been in the NHL for nine games, but the 2012 fourth-round pick is making a quick impression. He already has five goals, a plus-five, 11 pims, 16 shots, 15 hits, 10 blocked shots, and has won 51.9 per cent of his draws (27-of-52). He’d be much higher on this list if he could keep this up for 10 or 20 games.
5. Aaron Ekblad
Ekblad is quickly proving why he was the number one NHL draft pick last June, and has been rewarding poolies who also made him a top draft pick in prospect drafts as well. With all due respect to Severson, Ekblad has been the best rookie defenceman this season. His nine points is tied for fifth among rookies (and was near the top of the Panthers point leaders), and he was a plus-one. He’s also averaging 21:50 of ice time a game. (Note, this column was written before last night’s game was finished.
If he can turn it on the rest of the season, Pearson would have the opportunity to join a hall of famer in a nice bit of trivia. Only Ken Dryden has won a Stanley Cup a year before winning a Calder trophy. Of course, Pearson would need to have a great rest of the season to catch up to the rookie league leaders, but it’s not like he’s out of the race yet. Pearson has seven goals (tied for second among rookies), and 10 points (which puts him fourth). His plus-11 is second, and he does it all in just under 13 minutes a game.
The 19-year-old Cap rookie wasn’t on a lot of radars before the season began, but he’s definitely on them now. Burakovsky has been a surprise, especially when you consider he doesn’t get top minutes, and his most frequent linemates have been Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson. Burakovsky has three goals and 12 points in 17 games this season, despite playing just 14 minutes a game.
It was pretty close between Gaudreau and Burakovsky for this spot. They’re tied for goals, assists and points. I felt like Gaudreau gets the advantage because he is slightly ahead of Burakovsky in most of the main categories. Gaudreau has a plus-seven, two power play goals, four power play assists and 28 shots a game. His 17 takeaway are also tops among rookies. While many scoffed that he would win the Calder, he’ll definitely be a nominee if he can keep this up.
Easily the choice for number one. Everyone is assuming he’s going to regress this season, but he’s already piled up enough fantasy numbers that will keep him at the top even if he goes stone cold for the next couple of weeks. Before last night’s games, Forsberg’s 20 points were eight better than the two players tied for second. His plus-19 is also eight better than second, and he also leads rookies in goals, assists, power play points, and shots. In fact, he’s one of only two players in the league, not just rookies, to have at least eight goals, 10 assists, a plus-minus of 15 and 40 shots. So he’s contributing in a lot of categories, and is a better fantasy option than a lot of non-rookie players as well.
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