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5 Rookies Who Could Have a Big Impact During the 2014 NHL Playoffs

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Choosing the Rookies Who Will Impact the 2014 NHL Playoffs

Tyler Johnson nhl playoffs
Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

The 16 team slate for the 2014 NHL Playoff schedule is virtually set in stone, and the hockey world is rife with fervor about the upcoming slate of games. One of the biggest storylines that always encompasses the NHL Playoffs is the success of rookies, many of whom succeeded during the regular season but are getting their first national prominence during the spring. Here are the five rookies who will have the biggest impact this year.

5. Ondrej Palat

Ondrej Palat tampa bay lightning
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ondrej Palat

Ondrej Palat nhl playoffs
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat has been one of the surprise rookies of the 2013-14 season, compiling 22 goals, 35 assists, a plus-30 +/- and four shorthanded points. Palat has a great deal of quickness, is elusive with the puck, an eye for the play-making pass and the ability to deliver when goalscoring opportunities present themselves. If the 6-foot, 180-pound winger can handle the physicality of the playoffs he could be a game changer.

4. Frederik Andersen

Frederik Andersen anaheim ducks
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

4. Frederik Andersen

Frederik Andersen nhl playoffs
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen has exploded on the scene this year, going 19-5-0 with a 2.27 GAA and 92.4 save percentage in 27 games played. Andersen is absolutely huge at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, and he uses this frame to cut off angles and use his natural reflexes to make it nearly impossible for opposing players to score. Andersen will have to beat out John Gibson and Jonas Hiller to play, but look for him to dominate if he does.

3. Valeri Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin nhl playoffs
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3. Valeri Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin nhl playoffs
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin has been streaky this year, and his lackluster totals of 14 goals and 20 assists in 77 games will scare some from picking him to be an impact player. This overlooks the fact that the 19-year-old has the huge size to dominate in the playoffs, is a great skater and can both create scoring opportunities for himself and others. If Nichushkin can get hot he can win a series or two for the No. 8 seed Stars.

2. Torey Krug

Torey Krug boston bruins
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

2. Torey Krug

Torey Krug nhl playoffs
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Torey Krug played 15 games as the Boston Bruins went to the Stanley Cup last year, but he maintains rookie status and again will be a huge factor. During the regular season Krug picked up 14 goals and 24 points in 76 games, including six goals and 12 assists on the power play. A mix of superb puck moving and play-making ability makes Krug a huge power play threat for the Bruins this spring.

1. Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon nhl playoffs
Getty Images

1. Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon colorado avalanche
Getty Images

There is no doubting that Nathan MacKinnon has been the best rookie in the NHL this year, as his totals of 24 goals, 38 assists and a plus-24 +/- have helped the Colorado Avalanche go from bottom feeders to third in the Western Conference. MacKinnon has a mix of speed, play-making ability, goal scoring prowess and defensive instincts that should translate well to the playoffs and make him an absolutely dominant figure.