Top 10 Rookies Poised To Make An Impact
Top 10 Rookies Set To Make An Impact In The NHL
Every season new rookies enter into the NHL looking to make an immediate impact on their team as they get their career started. The 2012-2013 (or 2013-2014 depending on how things go with the CBA negotiations) is looking to have a large crop of talented young players looking to do just that. From this year’s draft in Pittsburgh dating back a few drafts teams around the NHL have collected very talented young players who finally look to transition into the NHL.
I’ll be taking a look at those who I believe will make the biggest impact on their team based off of projected ice time and roles they could be used in. Not all rookies will be inserted into the top line on an NHL team to play with an all-star but could still produce very well on a lower line with other linemates. You wouldn’t exactly expect a highly touted rookie to come into a lineup and push Marian Gaborik or Patrick Kane off of the first line after all, not right away at least.
As far as defenseman go on this list, keep in mind that they do take longer to develop than someone in a forward position. However they can still play a big role in their teams success as they enter the NHL, not to mention gain valuable experience they may not receive by staying in junior hockey another season. Let’s get the list going and check out the guys, in order of possible success rate.
Mika Zibanejad - Ottawa Senators
Mika Zibanejad was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first round (6th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He plays with intensity and works hard in puck battles and is good in the faceoff circle, he has high hockey knowledge and knows how to read plays well. He’s good in his own zone and possesses good offensive capabilities that will only get better with experience in the NHL. With more experience the Senators look to have him develop into a good power forward for their team.
Dougie Hamilton - Boston Bruins
Dougie Hamilton was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round (9th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a big mobile defenseman who is good on both ends of the ice, he reads plays well and uses his size and reach in the defensive zone to win battles one on one. He’s very good with breaking up plays and blocking passing lanes with his reach and can turn play around to break out of the defensive zone on the rush. He has a strong shot and will most likely take advantage of working with Zdeno Chara on perfecting it in the coming years.
Brandon Saad - Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon Saad was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round (43rd overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Blackhawks look to develop Saad into a top six power forward and use his size to position himself in front of the opposition’s net to create chances. He’s smart in his own zone and uses his size to win battles, but at times not as much as he should. He’s able to create space for himself and teammates with a good skating ability, but needs to work on consistency through more NHL experience.
Jaden Schwartz - St Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (14th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a smooth passer and at times positions himself behind the net looking to make an easy play, his shooting could use work and is average overall. He also lacks willingness to battle in the corners which should improve as he gains more confidence, but could be due to his smaller size. The Blues proved last season they have the defense and goaltending to make them great, now the offense should get a boost once Schwartz is inserted into a full time role.
Ryan Murray - Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Murray was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round (2nd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a strong defenseman in his own zone and shuts down the opposition’s offense, he also possesses good passing skills and a strong shot from the point. He will be a top pairing defenseman for the Blue Jackets for years to come and will most certainly make an immediate impact in their lineup who struggled defensively over the years. He could easily be the franchises future captain, as he shows good leadership and is mature beyond his age.
Chris Kreider - New York Rangers
Chris Kreider was drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round (19th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He possesses very good speed and good offensive abilities, along with good size to develop into a power forward in the NHL. After completely school at Boston College he will most likely play the 2012-2013 NHL season in the AHL to gain some pro experience, but could also easily make the Rangers lineup after room was made in the Rick Nash trade. He has a bright future ahead on a very good Rangers lineup and could greatly benefit from working with some of its All-Stars.
Zack Phillips - Minnesota Wild
Zack Phillips was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round (28th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Phillips is a great playmaker but can also score on his own, he has great on ice vision which he uses to create plays that may not have seemed possible. His skating could use work and is noticeable at times and he lacks in physicality which could lead to him starting the season in the AHL. When he does finally make the Wild’s lineup they gain a very talented forward to compliment newly acquired Zach Parise and prospect Mikael Granlund.
Nail Yakupov - Edmonton Oilers
Nail Yakupov was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round (1st overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. A pure goal scorer with amazing hands and good shot accuracy, Edmonton looks to insert him into their already talented lineup. Along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall the Oilers will be tormenting NHL goaltenders for years to come. Yakupov lacks size and has had injury issues in the past possibly due to it, so could face some troubles as he transitions into the NHL with its faster pace and much larger opposition. He’s also been known to be a great finisher but seems to lack other offensive awareness leading to not involving teammates in the play as often as coaches may like. He could easily be a future NHL All-Star especially with the talent around him but will need time to develop more aspects of his game.
Jonathan Huberdeau - Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the first round (3rd overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Huberdeau possesses tremendous offensive skill and can create plays for his teammates almost as if it’s easy for him. He was the Panthers top scorer during the 2011 NHL preseason but was returned to juniors to develop further and gain more size. He’s good in his own zone and can be used on the penalty kill or in late game situations. Once he finally transitions into the NHL he could very easily turn a struggling Florida’s offense around completely. Being the best prospect the team has ever had in their system has management and coaching staff salivating at the thought of him finally joining the team.
Mikael Granlund - Minnesota Wild
Mikael Granlund was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round (9th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He has tremendous offensive talent and can put the puck in the net as well as create plays for his teammates. A smooth skater, but lacks size and isn’t very physical, he could very well see time on Minnesota’s top line next to Zach Parise. As he develops the Wild will be gaining a very good offensive threat and future NHL All-Star. Granlund has all the talent a team could ask for and could easily lead the league in points one day if given proper time to adjust and a good lineup surrounding him.