Rookies don’t often show up at the NHL All-Star Game. You rarely find them as options to vote on when the NHL releases its official ballot, and you don’t typically see them in the actual game, though exceptions do exist in four of the past five All-Star Games. In the past, the NHL has devoted a part of the All-Star festivities to showcasing rookie talent. From the 2002 All-Star Game to the 2009 edition, a YoungStars Game would be held, usually with a format somewhat similar to the current format of the All-Star Game (shorter game, fewer players on ice). And from 2011 through 2015, each conference had six extra spots in addition to the standard 21-player roster to include rookies in the All-Star Skills Competition. Since the genesis of the current mini-tourney format used since 2016, there has been no special place in the All-Star weekend for rookie players, and only four (Dylan Larkin and John Gibson in 2016, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine in 2017) have played in an All-Star Game. If I was picking players to put on the ballot, there’d be an extra spot on the list for rookie selections. All information is accurate to December 7.
Clayton Keller (Centre-9-Arizona Coyotes)
11G, 12A, 33 PTS, 49.0 ESCF%, in 30 GP
A strong performance as a freshman for Boston University, followed by two points in his first three NHL games cemented Keller as Arizona’s best prospect entering this season and an early favourite for the Calder Trophy. On pace for 63 points (30G, 33A), he is on pace to score as many points as last season’s Calder winner Auston Matthews and more goals than the runner-up Patrik Laine.
Anders Bjork (Left Wing-10-Boston Bruins)
3G, 6G, 9 PTS, 53.5 ESCF% in 75 GP
Bjork scored 52 points as a junior for Notre Dame last season before going pro. Not the highest-profile rookie Boston had going into the season (he was a fifth-round pick back in 2014), Bjork went on to earn a full-time roster spot and is on pace for 37 points (12G, 25A) in 75 games.
Danton Heinen (Left Wing-43-Boston Bruins)
4G, 9A, 13 PTS, 51.5 ESCF% in 78 GP
Heinen scored 44 points in 64 games for AHL Providence last season, along with playing his first eight NHL games. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Heinen is second among Bruins rookies and is sixth overall in team scoring. He is on pace for 48 points (15G, 33A) in 78 games.
Charlie McAvoy (Defenceman-73-Boston Bruins)
4G, 11A, 15 PTS, 53.3 ESCF% in 25 GP
The young defenceman, a first-round pick by the Bruins in 2016, left college following a strong freshman season and joined the Bruins for the 2017 Playoffs. He was a TOI leader and basically guaranteed himself a roster spot. He’s earning it now too, currently sitting third among rookie blueliners in points and a distant first in TOI. He is on pace for 49 points (13G, 36A) in 82 games.
Jake DeBrusk (Left Wing-74-Boston Bruins)
5G, 7A, 12 PTS, 49.0 ESCF% in 21 GP
Boston had three consecutive first-round picks back in 2015 thanks to some wheeling and dealing. DeBrusk, the second of the three, is the first one to make it to the NHL. He is on pace for 45 points (19G, 26A) in 78 games and is fourth on the team in goals, leading all Bruins rookies.
Mark Jankowski (Centre-77-Calgary Flames)
5G, 2A, 7 PTS, 48.4 ESCF% in 20 GP
The 2012 first-rounder is in his second pro season after a decent collegiate career. While he was pointless in his first seven games after being called up, he’s broken that streak. He scored two goals and an assist on the 13th to go along with a previous assist on the 9th. He is on pace for 26 points (19G, 7A) in 74 games.
Alex DeBrincat (Right Wing-12-Chicago Blackhawks)
11G, 9A, 20 PTS, 54.3 ESCF% in 28 GP
One of the shortest players in the NHL at 5’7”, the 2016 second-rounder made it to the NHL thanks in part to the Blackhawks’ recent roster dismantlings leaving them without extra scoring help. He is on pace for nearly 58 points (32G, 26A) in 82 games.
Alexander Kerfoot (Centre-13-Colorado Avalanche)
8G, 12, 20 PTS, 48.5 ESCF% in 26 GP
Kerfoot, originally a Devils draft pick, signed with Colorado following a full four years with Harvard. Fifth in league rookie scoring, Kerfoot is on pace for 63 points (25G, 38A) in 82 games.
Samuel Girard (Defenceman-49-Colorado Avalanche)
1G, 4A, 5 PTS, 50.5 ESCF% in 17 GP
Girard made the Predators’ roster out of training camp this season, probably thanks in part to Ryan Ellis’ injury. Girard scored three points in five games before he was traded Colorado, and overall, he is on pace for 21 points (4G, 17A) in 73 games.
Pierre-Luc Dubois (Centre-18-Columbus Blue Jackets)
4G, 7A, 11 PTS, 60.8 ESCF% in 28 GP
The third overall pick of the 2016 draft, Dubois is third in scoring among Columbus centres, one point from first and second. He is on pace for 33 points (12G, 21A) in 82 games.
Martin Frk (Left Wing-42-Detroit Red Wings)
6G, 4A, 10 PTS, 51.2 ESCF% in 20 GP
The Carolina Hurricanes claimed Frk off waivers after a promising preseason. He didn’t pan out with them, however, being put back on waivers and plucked again by Detroit after only two pointless games. After the 2012 second-rounder scored 50 points in 64 AHL games, Frk was given another chance this season in the NHL. On pace for 37 points (22G, 15A) in 74 games, he’s earned the opportunity.
Connor Brickley (Left Wing-23-Florida Panthers)
2G, 6A, 8 PTS, 45.3 ESCF% in 19 GP
Brickley played 23 games, just a couple games of short of playing out his rookie eligibility, back in 2015/16, scoring only five games. Brickley was acquired by Carolina, for whom he scored 26 points in 69 AHL games. Brickley is scoring at an almost half a point a game pace after being reacquired by Florida. He is on pace for 31 points (8G, 23A) in 74 games.
Oscar Fantenberg (Defenceman-7-Los Angeles Kings)
1G, 6A, 7 PTS, 47.1 ESCF% in 20 GP
Fantenberg was signed as an undrafted free agent after 23 points in 44 games for the KHL’s HK Sochi. This season, he’s on pace for 26 points (4G, 22A) in 73 games, despite averaging just over 14 minutes a night.
Alex Iafallo (Left Wing-19-Los Angeles Kings)
1G, 8A, 9 PTS, 52.3 ESCF% in 29 GP
Iafallo made a huge jump in production, scoring 52 games as a senior with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, before he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kings. Though not even the highest-scoring rookie on the Kings, and is only on pace for 26 points (3G, 23A) in 82 games, he has played some of the season in a first-line role with team captain Anze Kopitar and resurgent ex-captain Dustin Brown.
Adrian Kempe (Centre-39-Los Angeles Kings)
10G, 9A, 17 PTS, 47.0 ESCF% in 28 GP
On pace for 49 points (29G, 20A) in 81 games, Kempe is the big deal Kings rookie this season. Kempe’s offensive season is more impressive than Iafallo’s. While Iafallo is serviceable playing with some of the best players Los Angeles has at forward, Kempe has the responsibility of centering a line of lesser-scoring producers. Had he slotted in with Kopitar, Kempe would be having a much better season.
Zack Mitchell (Right Wing-59-Minnesota Wild)
2G, 2A, 4 PTS, 31.1 ESCF% in 12 GP
Minnesota’s top rookie this season isn’t a former first-round pick. It’s an undrafted free agent signing from years ago whose scouting report on SportsForecaster.com reads “depth forward.” He’s been shuttled between the NHL and AHL, but he’s on pace for 22 points (11G, 11A) in 67 games, so he’s earned his spot in the NHL.
Victor Mete (Defenceman-53-Montreal Canadiens)
0G, 4A, 4 PTS, 51.0 ESCF% in 27 GP
Montreal’s fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft isn’t yet producing offensively for the Canadiens, but he’s been better than his point total suggests. He’s been spoken of positively by the media and has had strong Corsi numbers. He is on pace for 12 points (0G, 12A) in 80 games.
Charles Hudon (Left Wing-54-Montreal Canadiens)
4G, 8A, 12 PTS, 54.8 ESCF% in 28 GP
Hudon scored two assists in three NHL games in each of his last two pro seasons, so it was expected he’d be in the NHL this season. Hudon is on pace for 35 points (12G, 23A) in 81 games.
Frederick Gaudreau (Centre-89-Nashville Predators)
0G, 3A, 3 PTS, 46.3 ESCF% in 16 GP
Gaudreau has spent some time in the minors this season, and he’s produced little in the NHL this season, only on pace for 13 points (0G, 13A) in 70 games, but I put him on this list based on last season. He scored three goals at opportune moments during Nashville’s playoff run last season and had teammates saying he should have his own stall in the locker room.
Will Butcher (Defenceman-8-New Jersey Devils)
2G, 16A, 18 PTS, 50.4 ESCF% in 27 GP
Butcher. Colorado’s fifth-round pick in 2013, was signed as a free agent by New Jersey after a successful four-year career with Denver University that concluded with him winning the Hobey Baker Award. Butcher leads all league rookie defencemen in scoring and is second on the Devils. He is on pace for 55 points (6G, 49A) in 82 games.
Nico Hischier (Centre-13-New Jersey Devils)
5G, 15A, 20 PTS, 47.2 ESCF% in 27 GP
Hischier was selected first overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. Sixth in rookie scoring, he is on pace for 61 points (15G, 46A) in 82 games.
Jesper Bratt (Left Wing-63-New Jersey Devils)
9G, 10A, 19 PTS, 47.2 ESCF% in 27 GP
The 2016 sixth-rounder skated onto everybody’s radars with a strong preseason. While preseason is sometimes deceptive, it wasn’t in this case, and Bratt is eighth in rookie scoring and on pace for 57 points (27G, 30A) in 82 games.
Ryan Pulock (Defenceman-6-New York Islanders)
1G, 2A, 3 PTS, 51.1 ESCF% in 14 GP
Pulock was expected to make the Islanders roster last season, but only played one NHL game. This season, he’s made it to the NHL full-time and is on pace for 15 points (5G, 10A) in 69 games.
Mathew Barzal (Centre-13-New York Islanders)
7G, 19A, 26 PTS, 55.8 ESCF% in 27 GP
It’s a three-horse race between Barzal, Arizona’s Clayton Keller, and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser for the rookie scoring lead and an inside track to the 2018 Calder Trophy. Currently, Barzal currently leads the pack and is on pace for 79 points (21G, 58A) in 82 games.
Joshua Ho-Sang (Right Wing-66-New York Islanders)
2G, 10A, 12 PTS, 45.9 ESCF% in 17 GP
After scoring 10 points in 21 games for the Islanders last season, Ho-Sang made the roster out of training camp, and was reassigned to the minors in late October for some reason. He’s back up now and is on pace for 50 points (8G, 42A) in 72 games.
Thomas Chabot (Defenceman-72-Ottawa Senators)
1G, 5A, 6 PTS, 50.3 ESCF% in 8 GP
Despite having only recently been recalled from the minors, Chabot has been fairly impressive, currently sitting sixth in scoring among rookie defencemen. He is on pace for 48 points (8G, 40A) in 64 games, and the injury to Chris Wideman strongly suggests he will be sticking around.
Travis Sanheim (Defenceman-6-Philadelphia Flyers)
0G, 4A, 4 PTS, 53.0 ESCF% in 25 GP
Though he’s not yet producing offence at a high level, on pace for 13 points (0G, 13A) in 79 games, the big offensive defenceman has earned positive reviews of his play. He has very marks in both Corsi% and Corsi%Rel.
Nolan Patrick (Centre-19-Philadelphia Flyers)
2G, 4A, 6 PTS, 39.4 ESCF% in 19 GP
Though he’s not quite living up to the expectations of someone who was projected to go first overall for the better part of last season and went second, Patrick was still the second overall pick of last season’s draft and is still on pace for 23 points (8G, 15A) in 73 games.
Joakim Ryan (Defenceman-47-San Jose Sharks)
0G, 2A, 2 PTS, 56.2 ESCF% in 23 GP
Ryan is another rookie defenceman who has yet to open the floodgates offensively but has earned high marks for his overall play. His Corsi% and Corsi%Rel are both fairly high. He is on pace for seven points (0G, 7A) in 79 games.
Vince Dunn (Defenceman-29-St. Louis Blues)
2G, 4A, 6 PTS, 54.8 ESCF% in 26 GP
St. Louis’ second-round pick in 2015 is yet another defenceman who’s scored little for an offensive defenceman but has earned a consistent spot in the lineup thanks to playing well in general. Dunn has managed a pace for 18 points (6G, 12A) in 80 games.
Yanni Gourde (Centre-37-Tampa Bay Lightning)
8G, 10A, 18 PTS, 51.3 ESCF% in 27 GP
After playing two games in 2015/16 and scoring eight points in 20 games last season, Gourde has earned a full-time roster spot with the Lightning. Gourde has fit in well with the Lightning’s potent offence, and is on pace for 54 points (24G, 30A) in 82 games.
Mikhail Sergachev (Defenceman-98-Tampa Bay Lightning)
6G, 13A, 17 PTS, 54.0 ESCF% in 27 GP
It was kind of dumb for Montreal to give Sergachev up. Sure Jonathan Drouin can still turn into the no.1 centre they wanted, but they were already short of young blue-chip defence prospects. The fact that Sergachev is lighting up the NHL, is on pace for 57 points (18G, 39A) in 82 games, and is leading rookie defencemen in points just makes it sting more.
Andreas Borgman (Defenceman-55-Toronto Maple Leafs)
2G, 5A, 7 PTS, 50.5 ESCF% in 27 GP
Borgman and Calle Rosen were both signed by the Leafs as undrafted free agents over the summer, and apparently only one could get to the NHL this season. Borgman won out, and is on pace for 21 points (6G, 15A) in 80 games and is posting strong Corsi numbers.
Brock Boeser (Right Wing-6-Vancouver Canucks)
13G, 12A, 25 PTS, 49.1 ESCF% in 25 GP
Boeser is currently leading all rookies in scoring and has the rookie lead in goals. He is on pace for 79 points (41G, 38A) in 79 games, and is a favourite to win the Calder Trophy.
Brendan Leipsic (Left Wing-13-Vegas Golden Knights)
0G, 8A, 8 PTS, 49.8 ESCF% in 19 GP
The Leafs had no room for Leipsic, acquired from Nashville in the Cody Franson trade, last season, and wound up allowing Vegas to take him in the expansion draft. Toronto’s loss is Vegas’ gain, as Leipsic, though goalless, is on pace for 31 points (0G, 31A) on the strength of assists alone.
Alex Tuch (Right Wing-89-Vegas Golden Knights)
6G, 7A, 13 PTS, 51.7 ESCF% in 23 GP
Tuch didn’t make the Golden Knights’ roster out of training camp this season, but was called up in mid-October and scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Tuch is tied for sixteenth in rookie scoring and is on pace for over 44 points (20G, 24A) in 78 games.
Jakub Vrana (Left Wing-13-Washington Capitals)
8G, 4A, 12 PTS, 54.6 ESCF% in 28 GP
Washington’s first-round pick in 2014 almost played out his rookie eligibility last season, scoring six points in 21 games. That performance earned him a longer look this season, and he’s now on pace for 35 points (23G, 12A) in 81 games.
Chandler Stephenson (Left Wing-18-Washington Capitals)
2G, 4A, 6 PTS, 45.2 ESCF% in 19 GP
Having scored zero points in 13 games across the last two seasons, Stephenson is described by SportsForecaster.com in his scouting report as a depth forward. So far, he’s outplaying that assessment. Currently, he’s in a top-nine roster spot and is on pace for 23 points (8G, 15A) in 72 games.
Madison Bowey (Defenceman-22-Washington Capitals)
0G, 5A, 5 PTS, 45.7 ESCF% in 23 GP
Bowey is coming off two seasons scoring 0.41 points per game for AHL Hershey, preceded by two 60-point seasons for WHL Kelowna. In his first NHL season, Bowey has yet to score his first NHL goal, but is on pace for 17 points (0G, 17A) in 76 games.
Kyle Connor (Left Wing-81-Winnipeg Jets)
9G, 8A, 17 PTS, 44.5 ESCF% in 22 GP
Connor began the season in the AHL, but was quickly called up because of injuries. The 2015 first-rounder has earned a full-time roster with his play, scoring at a pace for 59 points (31G, 28A) in 76 games and playing full-time in Winnipeg’s top-six.
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