Now that each team has played at least 30 games, we can look back at how some of the projected top rookies are doing so far this season. I had done two articles (here and here) on the rookies that I thought would be at the forefront of this year and I was definitely over optimistic on a few of them.
Jack Hughes was number one on my list and it’s fair to say, he has struggled so far in his first season. He’s a young 18 and has been sheltered big time (77.11 OZ %) and has a very low FOW percentage of 38.4. He’s currently on pace for 12 goals and 24 assists, a far cry from the 65-75 points I had figured on. His PDO of 97.7 and low 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 5.77 might be an indication that he will improve offensively, but even then we are looking at 45-55 points tops.
I do think Cale Makar (two on my list) and Quinn Hughes (four) will slow down a little over an 82 game schedule but they have both exceeded expectations from most (which were pretty high). Makar is on pace for 23 goals and 56 assists which would be the most impressive rookie season put together by a defenceman ever. His PDO is high at 105.0 and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage is also high at 12.79, so there is some reversion due along with fatigue. Hughes is on pace for six goals and 57 assists and has more sustainable metrics than Makar. Both players are improving each and every game and I think most prognostications are out the window with these two.
Kaapo Kakko was number three on my list and I figured he was a lock for 25 goals and 55 points. He is on pace after playing 29 games for 17 goals and 23 assists, so he’s not far off. His PDO is low at 97.6 and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 4.08 is very low. His biggest struggle has been his play away from the puck as his CF% is 39.26, but to be fair he hasn’t been sheltered as much as most rookies with an OZ% of 48.83. He could still very easily reach 25 goals and/or 55 points.
Cody Glass was number five on my list and has shown glimpses of what I thought might be a 50-55 point rookie campaign. He is on pace for 10 goals and 18 assists and has had a little bad puck luck with a PDO of 97.5 and 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 4.88. He has only five points at ES and even with better luck is going to struggle to get above 40 points by the end of the season.
Victor Olofsson was number 15 on my rookie list and I mentioned he could be a dark horse 20-goal and 20-assist candidate. Not only has he met those projections but is on pace for 32 goals and 40 assists while playing over 83 percent of the time at ES with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. He is the real deal and has sustainable metrics to challenge for the Calder trophy with the other front runners Makar and Quinn Hughes.
Ilya Mikheyev was not on my list at the start of the season as I assumed he would be confined to the 4th line and perhaps manage 10 goals and 20 assists at most. He is on pace for the 10 goals but 32 assists and there is more offense there. He averages 2.45 shots/game and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage is average at 8.75. He sees no power play time and has become an effective penalty killer as well. He has found his place on the third line and should come close to 40 points this year.
Adam Fox has had a great start to the season and wasn’t on my list. I assumed that with Jacob Trouba and Tony DeAngelo, Fox would have limited offensive opportunities in his first year, but all three have found a way to produce. After 30 games he is on pace for 13 goals and 29 assists and is averaging 18:10 TOI. His PDO is a touch high at 103.0 and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 9.48 will be hard to maintain over 82 games. He’s not the best defender away from the puck but he has been impressive so far. I think he will slow down over the last 50 games but the Rangers have a good one.
Martin Necas was number ten on my list and has produced a little more than I predicted with him playing mostly on the wing. He is on pace for 17 goals and 30 assists, while playing an average of 13:55 per game, including being on the second unit of the power play. He has acquitted himself well defensively and his shooting percentages are sustainable, so a 50 points season is not outside his reach.
John Marino was not even a name I thought would be in the NHL this year, let alone be doing what he has been doing. He is on pace for eight goals and 27 assists, while being plus 11, along with 126 hits and 109 blocks. He has become a real solid add for multi-category pools. His role includes being on the second unit of the penalty kill as well as an average of 19:47 TOI. His 5-on-5 shooting percentage is 9.96 and this is probably going to come down. If Marino can still hold his place in the lineup and maintain even 25 points he will have had a very successful rookie year.
Other notables after 30 games are Joel Farabee, Blake Lizotte, Denis Gurianov, Kirby Dach, Dante Fabbro, Filip Zadina, Dillon Dube, Nick Suzuki, Dominik Kubalik and Philippe Myers. As for goalies, the leaders would be Mackenzie Blackwood, Thatcher Demko and Ilya Samsonov at this point. Elvis Merzlikins who was on my top 20 list has failed to earn an NHL win in his first eight games.
Here are the top 20 rookie scorers over the past month from Frozen Tools Report Generator:
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