Top 10 Rookies of the NHL season so far
The future of the National Hockey League is in great hands with the amount of insanely young talent that is producing in the league today. With the amount of rookies in the NHL right now playing on top lines, with top-tier players, it makes almost every game must see tv. I am here to give you my list of the top 10 rookie performers so far this NHL season.
*Note: I am not adding Connor McDavid to this list simply due to the fact that he has been hurt for most of the season. If you want to read me drooling over Connor McDavid, you can do that here.
10.) Anders Nilsson
In a off-season that led Oilers fan to believe they found their starting goaltender in Cam Talbot, they would soon realize that would not be the case. In comes Anders Nilsson who has now started in 4 more games than Cam Talbot, and with 16 starts under his belt, could Edmonton possibly have found their starting goalie for the rest of the season? Nilsson currently leads all rookie goaltenders in Save %, while also being 2nd in wins. With the amount of youth in Edmonton already, they should possibly, maybe be able to figure out a long-term plan eventually.
9. Sam Reinhart
The Sabres have been one of the most exciting teams to watch so far this season, and how could they not be? With talent like Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Jack Eichel on your team, every night is as exciting as the next. A guy who has been kind of swept under the rug in my opinion by all the top-tier talent on the Sabres, is Sam Reinhart. Reinhart has been quietly an animal so far this season while notching 8 goals and 3 assists, it’s not necessarily his points that has me excited about this rookie, but it is his willingness to go to the net while not even being close to the biggest guy on the ice. I’m not trying to humble brag here, but ever since I sold my good friend Sam (Reinhart) his television, he has been playing his best hockey, but again I am not trying to brag.
8.) Colton Parayko
Picked in the 3rd round in the 2012 NHL draft, Parayko has finally gotten his chance to take a spot on the St. Louis blue-line. On an already impressive St. Louis defensive core with guys like Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, and Bouwmeester, for Parayko to be a standout is nothing short of outstanding. Parayko has 5 goals, 9 assists, and is 2nd amongst rookies with a +12 rating.
7.) Anthony Duclair
This one already hurts me to write. After being traded by the New York Rangers last season, Duclair was given his chance to be a star on the Arizona Coyotes, and I’m happy to write, so far, so good for Duclair. 8 goals, 7 assists is good for 15 points from the rookie so far in only 28 games played. Not bad for the former Duke of New York. It also hurts me to admit that Duclair looks like he’s going to be a perfect fit for the resurgence of the Arizona Coyotes franchise.
6.) Mike Condon
With the injury bug biting Carey Price once again, the Montreal Canadiens are forced to play a good chunk of the season with the backup tender between the pipes. The good news for Canadiens fans this season is that it looks like they got themselves a pretty great rookie goaltender to keep the crease warm while Carey Price recovers. With 16 games already started this season with Price out, Condon has been able to keep the Canadiens afloat and atop the Atlantic division while also remaining one of the top teams in the league. Now there is no doubt that Price is the starting goaltender in Montreal, but it does certainly seem like Montreal fans can take a step back and realize they don’t have to pull their hair out night after night if Condon can keep playing the way he has been.
5.) Jack Eichel
The number two overall pick from this years draft certainly had a lot of expectations coming into this season, and he has already taken this city and franchise by storm. After scoring in his first NHL game against the Ottawa Senators, it all but confirmed that the misery of the last season was well worth the wait. I am probably going to have Sabres fans rip me apart for only putting Eichel at number 5 on this list, but don’t worry Sabres fans, because I genuinely think that Eichel is the next Jonathan Toews. Between Reinhart, Ristolainen, and Eichel, the future of Buffalo hockey is brighter than ever.
4. Oscar Lindberg
After finally earning a roster spot this pre-season, Lindberg has not only made himself a case to be here for the rest of this regular season, but maybe a Calder hopeful as well. One of the main reasons I am putting Lindberg at 4th on this list, is simply because of how much he has been able to accomplish, with such little he’s been given. Lindberg is only averaging about 13 minutes of ice time a game, which is the lowest amongst any top 10 rookies. 10 goals, and 7 assists in 28 games for a guy averaging right around 13 minutes a game is enough to earn the respect of his teammates, and amongst fans in the NHL.
3.) Dylan Larkin
From rookie to playing on the top line in a matter of a quarter of a season, it has certainly been a fun ride so far for Dylan Larkin. Currently on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin has certainly found a home in Detroit amongst his team and the fans. Obviously I’m no Detroit fan, but I definitely have found myself tuning into more games if the Wings are playing just to watch Larkin play. 10 goals and 11 assists is incredible for the rookie, but the most staggering statistic is Larkin’s +20 rating. Having recorded points in their last 10 games (6-0-4) the Red Wings certainly are making it seem like the playoff streak is going to continue with ease, and Dylan Larkin is going to be a crucial part to that success.
2.) Max Domi
I guess sometimes the apple really does fall far from the tree. It took Tie Domi 1,020 games played to get 104 goals, 141 assists for a total of 245 points. In just 28 games so far in his young career, Tie’s son Max has 10 goals, 13 assists, and looks like he is well on his way to surpass his fathers totals before next season. The 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft has finally been given the chance to emerge as the star that Arizona was hoping he would be. Arizona is certainly progressing from the embarrassment of the season they had last year, and with the Pacific Division being as bad as it is, it is not out of the question to think Arizona can potentially sneak into a wild-card spot this season.
1.) Artemi Panarin
The 23 year old was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks this off-season after playing his whole career in his native country, most recently with the KHL. The Blackhawks signed Panarin hoping he could earn a spot this season on the wing, and boy oh boy, has he ever. Sure, playing on a line with a guy who currently has a 23 game point streak, and undoubtedly one of the best players in the league doesn’t hurt, but Panarin has showcased he has his own valuable skill set to bring to the table. 9 goals and a staggering 19 assists for a total of 28 points in 28 games has made Panarin, Patrick Kane’s new best friend. The combo of Kane and Panarin has made Blackhawks into a must see team this season.
Sam Bennett (CGY)
Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG)
Colin Miller (BOS)
Linus Ullmark (BUF)