Derek Stepan was a second round pick (51st overall) by the New York Rangers in 2008. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Welcome to a new feature on THN.com where we track the best freshmen performances in the NHL. Some players will be noted because of their debuts, others for Calder-worthy accomplishments, but all will be rookies trying to make noise in the best league in the world.
And be sure to check out the rookie scoring leaders as the season unfolds.
Tough to top a hat trick in your NHL debut. Stepan became just the fourth NHLer to pull off the feat, doing so in a 6-3 win over the Sabres. Given the dearth of healthy scoring pivots in New York right now, look for the creative and quick-handed Wisconsin Badgers alum to continue putting up numbers.
Eberle had a fairly memorable first game as well, thanks in large part to a highlight-reel shorthanded goal in Edmonton’s 4-0 waxing of the rival Flames. The kid who grew up an Oilers fan also added an assist on the evening, proving once again that he rises to the occasion in pressure situations.
Where would the Flyers be without Bobrovsky in this young season? The dark horse-turned-starter has some of the best netminding stats in the league so far, with a 2.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two wins (and no losses). Injuries may have shelved Michael Leighton and pushed Johan Backlund to the American League, but there’s no fear in Philly right now.
One of the most experienced rookies this year (pardon the oxymoron), Carlson also leads all freshmen in scoring early on with four points through three games. The offensive bent of Team USA’s world juniors hero has already been established, but Carlson is far from one-dimensional and has been a nice addition to the Caps blueline.
Another player who has previous NHL experience, but is still Calder-eligible, Ennis is once again showing his mettle, even if Buffalo is off to a rough start. The diminutive left winger is tied with Carlson with four points in three games for the rookie lead, albeit the slick Sabre has done it all with assists.
The third straight first round pick to jump right to the Thrashers (Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian being the previous two), Burmistrov is already killing penalties and looking dangerous on the ice. A plus-2 through three games, the young Russian’s skating and smarts will serve him well in the NHL.
Pretty much nothing has gone right for the Ducks early on, but at least they can take solace in the fact they got a steal in Fowler with the 12th pick overall last summer. Fowler ranks second among rookies in ice time with nearly 23 minutes of service per game, just behind Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban.
The Canes’ training camp golden boy, Skinner continued his success into the regular season, tallying an assist and the shootout winner in Carolina’s second European victory over Minnesota. A Gary Roberts training acolyte, Skinner has a surprisingly solid frame for an 18-year-old, not to mention a goal-scorer’s touch.
With Brian Campbell laid up with a knee injury, Leddy got his chance to start the season with the defending champs and he’s acquitted himself well. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher has one assist through three games with the Hawks and contributed an average of 14 minutes of valuable ice time.
The Kings are heavy with rookies this season, with six making the roster out of camp. Schenn looked confident in the opener against Vancouver, working the corners and getting some great offensive opportunities, though he has yet to hit the scoresheet.
The Rookie Report covers the top performances from first year NHLers. From Calder candidates to brief call-ups, we'll bundle all the best together every other week only on thehockeynews.com
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.