This season is no doubt going to be a **** show, considering we have a few players holding out, a shortened season, players not in stride yet and a bunch of rookies being thrown into the mix immediately.
Of those rookies are the real deal, while some are just flashes in the pan or products of their line mates.
One has to look at the big picture on how to project these first year phenoms and figure out where they lie in the grand scheme of things to see if you want them for their fantasy hockey squad.
Here’s our look at some of the top rookies thus far and our long-term assessment of them.
RW-Vladimir Tarasenko (RUS) St. Louis Blues
Tarasenko came into the league like a hot flash scoring at will and looking like one of the premier offensive players in the league right out of the gates. There’s little doubt out there the kid has some star potential, but also it’s unlikely he can keep up his current pace throughout the season, even for the shortened season. Tarasenko will no doubt be a top scorer for his team for years to come, but the real question is will he be up there with the top scorers in the league. He has a body like a fire hydrant and a nice low centre of gravity where he can make the most out of positioning in front of the net. This kid was only overlooked in his 2010 draft year, because he was Russian and there was some doubt whether he’d come to the NHL. If not for those concerns, Tarasenko would have been a top five pick in the draft, instead of 16th overall and possibly rivaled Taylor (Hall) and Tyler (Seguin) for the top two picks.
LW-Cory Conacher (CAN) Tampa Bay Lightning
Conacher came into the season after a strong AHL campaign, where he’s picked up where he left off then and continued it on the Lightning’s top line along side Martin St-Louis and Steven Stamkos. That being said, how much of that output is a result of his own skills and how much is the line he’s playing on? He’s a NCAA signee, who brings some strong offensive skills, but at a miniscule 5’8” 176 lbs., there’s a lot of questions whether his lithe frame can hold up to the rigors of the physical NHL game. A lot of questions remain still about his NHL future since he was never a NHL pick and let’s face it, anyone playing with offensive dynamos like Stamkos and St-Louis are bound to have inflated stats. It’s doubtful he can keep up his scoring pace, and the minute he leaves the top line, there’s little doubt he will drop back down to earth and fall out of the rookie race.
D-Justin Schultz (CAN) Edmonton Oilers
Schultz is in the perfect position to not only make a run at the rookie of the year, but be an elite offensive defenceman for years to come in the league.
Much has been written about Schultz’s situation, where he spurned the Anaheim Ducks, who drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft and used the NCAA loophole to become a free agent and sign with the team he felt to be the best fit for his skills. Since joining Edmonton Schultz has looked like a force, with which to be reckoned as he gets a load of power play time and regularly sees time on the point, with the likes of young offensive skilled players such as Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While still prone to some bad give-aways in his own end, he already has an elite offensive game and some more work will make him a future superstar blue liner. Some would argue he may be product of team around him, but he’s always been highly skilled, has good size and has never settled for being just a guy on the team. He has to be a standout.
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