NHL Rookie Report - Eastern Conference
Back in September I released my pre-season award picks, and named Vancouver’s Brock Boeser as my rookie of the year. So far he has not disappointed with 16 goals and 12 helpers for 28 points in 28 games, and has scored a goal in the Canucks last three contests as well. This year we are again gifted with a good crop of rookies earning their keep thus far, without the mega second coming of Gretzky profiled rookies of the past two seasons with Conor McDavid and Auston Matthews. That isn’t saying this year’s rookies aren’t as good. Quite the contrary, there is definitely some talented youngsters this sesason. Let me cover a few we know about and a few who are silently chipping in each night.
The Devil is in the details as the old saying goes, and the Devils have three rookies, all who are shining through the first quarter season of their young careers.
Will Butcher - D/New Jersey Devils: A former Colorado fifth round draft pick, Butcher refused to sign with the Avalanche and signed with the Devils this past summer, has hit the ice skating and hasn’t looked back. Starting from day one, this young Devil has given some light onto the Devils that their future success is closer than they expected. Butcher has potted two goals and added 18 assists for a solid 20 points and is skating at +/- plus 6 to this point.
Nico Hischier - C/New Jersey Devils: The first overall pick in this past years NHL Entry Draft, Hischier successfully stayed in New Jersey past the eight game limit to save a year of eligibility and also sits at 20 points along with Butcher. Hischier has five goals and 15 assists so far, with all five goals coming at even strength. Nico is only at plus/minus -2 this season, but has been plus/minus -10 over the Devils last five contests. Rookie lumps is what that equates to in my opinion.
Jesper Bratt – RW-LW/New Jersey Devils: The smallish Swede is also sitting at 20 points in 30 games along with the previous two entries for the Devils. Bratt though has scored nine goals with 11 apples. Jesper is seeing special teams time with three of his nine goals coming with the man advantage, and one short-handed, along with two game winners. The New Jersey fan base has to be overjoyed with the early success of these three rookies, and it will be interesting to see their landing spots when the Calder Trophy votes are tallied up.
Matthew Barzal – C/New York Islanders: Coming into last season as a dark horse Calder candidate, Barzal only stuck around for two games. This season though, Matthew is holding nothing back. While not on the Isles top line of Lee/Bailey/Tavares, Barzal is on the second unit and providing what most success teams need to stay successful, secondary scoring. Scoring eight goals and handing out 20 dimes, Barzal is in a scoring race with Vancouver’s Brock Boeser early on for the rookie scoring lead.
Mikhail Sergachev- D/Tampa Bay Lightning: Shhhhhhhh, don’t let Montreal know this rookie, key piece of the Jonathan Drouin trade is for real, and is doing it in Tampa, not their minor league affiliate in Syracuse. In 30 games Mikhail sits at seven goals and 14 helpers, is playing at a plus/minus +10, and is already a top four defenseman at the tender age of 19. With size, 6’3” 215 pounds to go along with all that skill, Tampa has a top two locked in for the next decade if they sign Sergachev long term after his rookie contract expires. Victor Hedman and Sergachev, and the lot of stud forwards all under 26 years old, smells like Stanley Cup parades coming soon to Tampa.
Charlie McAvoy – D/Boston Bruins: After being thrown to the wolves in his first professional game during the first round of the playoffs last year, Charlie McAvoy has not let Boston down with his well-rounded game at the back end. With four goals and eleven assists, McAvoy is will be a Bruin for a long time, and it’s not just his offensive attributes, but what he’s paid for defensively and my man isn’t afraid to sacrifice the body either with 68 hits and 33 blocked shots in 30 games. Zdeno Chara will not have to reach far to hand the leadership torch over to McAvoy once big Z hangs up his massive skates for good.
Western Conference Rookie Round-Up is coming soon, as I’ve adjusted to the new work hours.
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