10 NHL Rookies Who Will Underwhelm In 2013
10 NHL Rookies Who Will Underwhelm In 2013
The 2013 NHL draft featured one of the deepest classes in recent years, and as a result there are many young players getting a shot to stick with their respective clubs this season. First overall pick Nathan MacKinnon has been outstanding for the Colorado Avalanche this season, and sixth overall pick Sean Monahan is off to a blistering start with the Calgary Flames. The current salary cap restraints and the depth of talent in the AHL has made it harder for rookies to stick in the league right away, and the Tampa Bay Lightning sending third overall pick Jonathan Drouin back to the WHL is a great example of how hard it is for players to crack the lineup in their draft year.
For every rookie that manages to stick with their team and be effective, there are many more that are rushed too soon by teams that have little chance to contend. Others come from overseas and face high expectations that are hard to meet while adjusting to the smaller rinks in North America. Some of the players on this list are in their second or third season of trying to be impact performers, but each player on this list faces some high expectations that they may not be able to live up to. Here is a look at 10 NHL rookies who are likely to underwhelm during the 2013-14 season.
Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres
After a disappointing rookie AHL season in 2012-13, Zemgus Girgensons somehow made his way onto a weak Sabres roster for this season. He may have scored a goal in his first game, but the was a gift-wrapped turnover from Jimmy Howard more than his skill. The 14th pick in the 2012 draft, Girgensons scored six goals in 61 games for the Rochester Americans last season while posting a minus-7 rating.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Ristolainen is a rookie defenseman for the Sabres, so the deck is already stacked against him. He's currently in the third pairing on one of the weakest defense corps in the league, and is minus-3 through five games.
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly's inclusion on this list is less about his potential and more about the fact that the Maple Leafs might not have enough minutes for him to make it worth keeping him around. Sending the young defenseman back to the WHL, where he has proven all he needs to, isn't the best idea either. Rielly needs to make the most of every chance he gets with the Leafs, and so far he is minus-3 with one assist in four games.
Sven Baertschi, Calgary Flames
Flames winger Sven Baertschi just barely make sit under the cutoff to be considered a rookie this season. He scored only three goals in 20 games last season after scoring three goals in his first five games the season before that. He will need to find the offensive form he showcased in juniors to avoid a demotion to the AHL, especially after already being criticized by Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke.
Elias Lindholm, Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes drafted Elias Lindholm fifth overall in the 2013 draft, and so far think he's ready to stick at the highest level. With a lot of talent at the forward positions, Lindholm has to be effective every time he gets on the ice. Through five games he has one goal and is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets
Boone Jenner may have started the season on the Blue Jackets' top line, but he was quickly demoted and has been scratched a few times early this season. He scored 45 goals in juniors last season, but may not be quite ready to deliver offensively for a Columbus team that has pretty good prospect depth.
Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
A shoulder injury prevented Ryan Murray from making his debut for the Blue Jackets last season, and he has a lot of work to do if he wants his rookie season to be considered a success. The second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Murray needs to show he can be the same offensively-gifted defenseman he was in juniors and he'll have a good chance to do that if he keeps getting paired with James Wisniewski.
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
This will be the third straight season that the Jets have given Mark Scheifele a chance to impress. Through the 17 games he has now played for the team, he has found the back of the net just twice. Expectations for a first round pick who produced nearly two points per game in juniors are pretty high, and so far this young forward hasn't lived up to them.
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders
A first round pick in 2010, Brock Nelson scored 25 goals in the AHL last season before making his debut with the Islanders in the playoffs. Through four games this season, Nelson is minus-2 with one assist and he'll need to show he can contribute or he'll be headed back to the AHL.
Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars
Through four games with the Stars, Valeri Nichushkin has yet to register a point following an impressive preseason. The high expectations he faces this season could make anything short of 20 goals and 40 points seem disappointing.
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