News

The Freshman Effect: An NHL Team-by-Team Rookie Compendium

Sam McCaig
By:
The Freshman Effect: NHL Team-by-Team Rookie Compendium

Charlie McAvoy Image by: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

News

The Freshman Effect: An NHL Team-by-Team Rookie Compendium

Sam McCaig
By:

Take a team-by-team look at how NHL rookies are making an impact this season, from Calder Trophy candidates to first-year freshmen trying to find their footing in the big leagues.

Teams are ranked by the number of games played by rookie skaters, with rookie goalies included separately. Stats are as of Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017.

BOSTON BRUINS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 111
Goals: 19
Points: 53
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Bruins lead the NHL with the most games played by rookies so far this season. Boston has dressed eight freshmen in 2017-18, including five on a regular basis – defenseman Charlie McAvoy and forwards Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Sean Kuraly. The B's rookies have combined for 19 goals and 53 points, led by Heinen (four goals, 11 points in 17 games), DeBrusk (five goals, 12 points in 20 games) and McAvoy (two goals, 11 points in 21 games). McAvoy, who leads all NHL rookies in average ice time (23:25), is skating nearly four minutes more per game than the next-busiest first-year player.

LOS ANGELES KINGS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 98
Goals: 12
Points: 30
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Kings have also used eight rookies this season, with four getting into L.A.'s lineup on most nights – forwards Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo and defensemen Oscar Fantenberg and Kurtis MacDermid. Kempe is tied for third in rookie goals (seven) and sits on the edge of the top 10 with 13 points in 21 games.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 88
Goals: 13
Points: 51
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Devils have dressed four rookies in each and every game they've played so far. Defenseman Will Butcher and forwards Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Blake Coleman have all made significant impacts as New Jersey holds down a playoff spot in the East and ranks as one of the most pleasant surprises in the first quarter of the season. At this point in the season, the Devils can claim three Calder-esque candidates: Hischier (three goals, 16 points) arrived in the spotlight as the No. 1 overall draft pick last June and he's found chemistry on the top line with Taylor Hall; Butcher (two goals, 17 points) is a mobile quarterback on the team's top-10 power play; and the teenage Bratt (six goals, 14 points) has come out of nowhere as an undersized winger (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) who was a sixth-round pick in 2016 (162nd overall).

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 82
Goals: 11
Points: 25
Rookie goalies: n/a

Six rookies – including Nathan Walker, the NHL's first-ever Australian – have suited up for the Caps this season, with four of them playing regularly. Forwards Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson and defensemen Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos are helping to fill the void after Washington was hit hard by an exodus of veteran players in the off-season. Vrana, with six goals and 10 points in 23 games, rates in the second tier of NHL freshmen.

COLORADO AVALANCHE
Total games played by rookie skaters: 77
Goals: 12
Points: 30
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Avs have already dressed nine rookies this season, the most in the NHL, but forwards Alexander Kerfoot (20 games) and J.T. Compher (14 games) were the only ones playing on a regular basis before the arrival of defenseman Samuel Girard in the Matt Duchene deal. Kerfoot, a fifth-round pick by New Jersey in 2012 (150th overall), never signed with the Devils and joned the Avs after four years at Harvard. He's been a big surprise with seven goals and 15 points in 21 games, but his ridiculous 30.4-percent shooting percentage suggests he'll cool off at some point.

FLORIDA PANTHERS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 72
Goals: 7
Points: 14
Goalies: n/a

Like the Avs, the Panthers have dressed a lot of rookies (eight), but only two have played regularly since the start of the season. Defenseman Ian McCoshen has three points, all goals, in 20 games, while center Connor Brickley has two goals and eight points in 17 games.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 67
Goals: 2
Points: 12
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Flyers have employed six rookies so far, with three who can be considered regulars – center Nolan Patrick and defensemen Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim. Patrick, the second overall draft pick last June, missed some time with a concussion, and the two-way pivot has produced a modest two goals and five points in 14 games. Sanheim (four assists in 20 games) and Hagg (three assists in 23 games) aren't generating much offense at this point, but that's not an issue. Hagg is playing 19:47 per game, second-most among all rookies behind Boston's McAvoy, and his plus-12 rating leads all first-year players.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 63
Goals: 10
Points: 19
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Blue Jackets have dressed four rookies, but they're bringing them along slowly. Up front, Sonny Milano (20 games, 10:15 average ice time) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (23 games, 12:44 average ice time) come with first-round pedigrees, while Markus Hannikainen (12 games, 8:27 average ice time) was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson (eight games, 11:07 average ice time) is another first-round pick (29th overall, 2015) who has seen spot duty. Milano, drafted 16th overall in 2014, has five goals and nine points, while Dubois, selected third overall in 2016, has three goals and five points. Not a bad start, but not enough to keep up with the Calder crowd.

MINNESOTA WILD
Total games played by rookie skaters: 59
Goals: 4
Points: 9
Rookie goalies: n/a

A couple of young centers are playing regularly for the Wild, even if they don't have the production to show for it. Joel Eriksson Ek was mentioned as a Calder contender entering the season, but he's been held to one goal and three points through 20 games. Luke Kunin, a 19-year-old who was drafted 15th overall in 2016, has two goals and four points in 17 games.

ARIZONA COYOTES
Total games played by rookie skaters: 57
Goals: 17
Points: 30
Rookie goalies: 9 GP, 2-5-1, 3.09 GAA, .900 save percentage

Christian Fischer has had a fine start to his NHL career, with six goals and 10 points in 23 games. But with all due respect, we're not here to talk about Fischer. When it comes to Coyotes rookies, it's all about Clayton Keller. The 19-year-old talent is vying for the NHL freshman lead in goals (11) and points (20), and has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona through the first quarter of the season. Keller is playing more than any other rookie forward in the league (19:21 per game) and sits among the freshman leaders in virtually every offensive category. There's a long way to go, but give him the first quarter of the Calder. The Coyotes have also pressed a pair of rookie goalies into duty this season, with Scott Wedgewood and Adin Hill getting a chance when starter Antti Raanta was out with injury.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 47
Goals: 2
Points: 12
Rookie goalies: 8 GP, 3-4-1, 2.43 GAA, .924 save percentage

Victor Mete, a 5-foot-9, 184-pound defenseman who was the 100th overall pick in the 2016 NHL, was a huge surprise when he made the Canadiens out of training camp, and the 19-year-old defenseman hasn't looked back. He's averaging more than 15 minutes per game, much of it with Shea Weber. Up front, left winger Charles Hudon has two goals and nine points in 23 games. Charlie Lindgren was pressed into action when Carey Price and Al Montoya were hurting, and the rookie stopper has acquitted himself well on a struggling club.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 45
Goals: 9
Points: 33
Rookie goalies: n/a

Mathew Barzal has announced his Calder intentions with 22 points in his past 17 games after he failied to hit the scoresheet in the first five games of the season. The Islanders also have high hopes for right winger Joshua Ho-Sang (two goals, eight points in 12 games) and defenseman Ryan Pulock (15:37 average ice time in 11 games).

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Total games played by rookie skaters: 44
Goals: 11
Points: 28
Goalies: n/a

The rich get richer. Unheralded center Yanni Gourde and hyped blueliner Mikhail Sergachev, who was obtained in the Jonathan Drouin trade with Montreal, have both dressed for all 22 of Tampa Bay's games so far – and they both have played well enough to merit mention as second-wave Calder contenders. Gourde is sixth among Lightning forwards in average ice time (17:25), with six goals and 14 points to show for it, while Sergachev has five goals and 14 points, second-most among rookie defensemen behind New Jersey's Butcher.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 41
Goals: 9
Points: 20
Rookie goalies: 6 GP, 1-1-2, 3.81 GAA, .904 save percentage

Alex DeBrincat, the little engine that could, and John Hayden, the big train that might. DeBrincat's offensive exploits in the OHL set him up for a scoring role in Chicago this season, and he's had a solid start with seven goals and 13 points in 21 games. He's on the cusp of the Calder race. Hayden, who, at 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds, stands about a head higher and weighs 60 pounds heavier than DeBrincat, arrives as a hulking power forward in the making. He has two goals and seven points in 20 games. With Scott Darling traded to Carolina in the off-season, Anton Forsberg takes over as Corey Crawford's backup.

DALLAS STARS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 41
Goals: 4
Points: 6
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Stars' biggest rookie contributors have been a couple of depth forwards named Gemel Smith (two goal and four points in 12 games) and Remi Elie (two goals in 18 games). Defenseman Julius Honka is also back up with the big club.

ST. LOUIS BLUES
Total games played by rookie skaters: 31
Goals: 2
Points: 6
Rookie goalies: n/a

Fast and smooth, Vince Dunn has skated into a regular spot on the blueline, playing all 22 games so far and averaging 16:43 a night.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 30
Goals: 5
Points: 17
Rookie goalies: 19 GP, 11-5-1, 3.03 GAA, .896 save percentage

Expansion teams be crazy. Take Vegas, for example. They've dressed six rookies this season – and four have been goalies. After Marc-Andre Fleury got hurt, he was replaced by rookie goalie Malcolm Subban, who then got hurt and was replaced by rookie goalie Oscar Dansk, who then got hurt and was replaced by rookie goalie Maxime Lagace, who's being backed up by ultra-raw rookie goalie Dylan Ferguson, an emergency call-up from the WHL after being a seventh-round draft pick in 2017 (194th overall). Oh yeah, after all that, the Golden Knights are in first place in the Pacific Division. As for non-goalie rookies, Alex Tuch (five goals, 10 points in 17 games) and Brendan Leipsic (seven assists in 13 games) are part of the team's by-committee attack. Tuch should continue to get all the opportunity he can handle, and could very well move up in the Calder standings.

ANAHEIM DUCKS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 28
Goals: 2
Points: 4
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Ducka have been hammered by injuries, but they haven't used many rookies to fill the holes. Defenseman Jaycob Megna, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound behemoth who was drafted in the seventh round in 2012 (210th overall), has played 11 games, averaging 16:32.

CAROLINA HURRICANES
Total games played by rookie skaters: 28
Goals: 0
Points: 6
Rookie goalies: n/a

Haydn Fleury, the seventh overall draft pick in 2014, has earned a spot on Carolina’s stacked blueline, averaging more than 16 minutes per game in 20 contests.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 28
Goals: 1
Points: 7
Rookie goalies: 4 GP, 1-3-0, 3.94 GAA, .855 save percentage

You may remember Predators rookie forwards Pontus Aberg and Frederick Gaudreau from Nashville's playoff run to the Stanley Cup final last spring. They're back, trying to work their way into – and up – the lineup. Goalie Juuse Saros, who played 21 games as Pekka Rinne's backup last year, retains his rookie eligibility for this season. 

OTTAWA SENATORS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 27
Goals: 0
Points: 5
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Sens have tried out eight rookies so far this season, but none have played more than six games and none were able to score a goal.

WINNIPEG JETS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 27
Goals: 7
Points: 13
Rookie goalies: n/a

Kyle Connor didn’t start the season in Winnipeg, but he’s been flying with the Jets since being recalled in mid-October, posting six goals and 12 points in 17 games. Keep it up, and he could force his way into the Calder debate.

BUFFALO SABRES
Total games played by rookie skaters: 26
Goals: 0
Points: 4
Rookie goalies: n/a

Russian import defenseman Victor Antipin has skated in 17 games, playing about 15 minutes a night.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 26
Goals: 5
Points: 15
Rookie goalies: n/a

Hey, where’d all the rookies go? With last year’s star-studded Leafs freshmen class graduating to sophomore NHL status, Toronto’s rookie representation this season comes in the form of depth defensemen Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen.

SAN JOSE SHARKS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 23
Goals: 0
Points: 4
Rookie goalies: n/a

Defenseman Joakim Ryan has played 19 games on the Sharks’ blueline, at about 17 minutes an outing.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 20
Goals: 11
Points: 22
Rookie goalies: n/a

The Canucks have only dressed one rookie this season, but right winger Brock Boeser has established himself as a bona fide Calder contender, consistently racking up goals and points since being a healthy scratch in Vancouver’s first two games.

DETROIT RED WINGS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 18
Goals: 6
Points: 9
Rookie goalies: n/a

Martin Frk has provided six goals and nine points ­– but few vowels – as the Red Wings’ lone rookie.

CALGARY FLAMES
Total games played by rookie skaters: 15
Goals: 3
Points: 4
Rookie goalies: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 5.16 GAA, .750 save percentage

Mark Jankowski is doing his darndest to force his way into a regular role with the Flames.

NEW YORK RANGERS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 12
Goals: 0
Points: 3
Rookie goalies: n/a

Boo Nieves, the best Boo since Radley? Discuss.

EDMONTON OILERS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 9
Goals: 0
Points: 3
Rookie goalies: 6 GP, 0-3-1, 3.31 GAA, .880 save percentage

Kailer Yamamoto is back in junior, Laurent Brossoit is backing up Cam Talbot.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Total games played by rookie skaters: 2
Goals: 0
Points: 0
Rookie goalies: 2 GP, 0-0-2, 2.84 GAA, .903 save percentage

If the Penguins win a third consecutive Stanley Cup championship, it won’t be because of their rookies.

Comments

Share X
News

The Freshman Effect: An NHL Team-by-Team Rookie Compendium