February 17, 2013
Despite the shortened NHL season, rookies are making an impact. In this edition of my ramblings, I’ll talk about the rookies at the quarter point (already!) of the NHL season, along with other prospect news and notes:
Pittsburgh has recalled Beau Bennett from the AHL, and Bennett played his first NHL game in Winnipeg. I’ve never been as high on Bennett as most, but my opinion has changed after watching him play in the AHL this season as a 20-year-old (he just turned 21 at the end of November). Bennett had 25 points in 35 games in the minors and looks every bit the part of a future top-six forward for the Pens in the near future.
In Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau is the rookie that most talk about and rightly so. However, since being recalled, Drew Shore has been having a positive impact on the Panthers attack. He took a few games to adjust, but has steadily improved each game and has record five points in 12 games. Shore is tied for second on the team in shots on goal with 33, which is impressive even before you consider he has played in fewer games.
Alex Killorn is another player who didn’t make the parent club out of camp, but since being recalled has been earning playing time with the Lightning. A smart, creative player, Killorn scored his first NHL goal on Saturday.
Also scoring his first this past week was Dougie Hamilton. The Bruins have done a great job of giving Hamilton quality ice-time without over exposing him. He is the future anchor of their blueline and they know it.
Dougie Hamilton's first NHL goal:
Cory Conacher has cooled off some after a torrid start in Tampa. He has just one point in his last seven games since a three-point performance against the Jets.
A rookie who has really impressed me, but isn’t talked about much is Brendan Gallagher. The fearless Canadien is all over the ice every shift, making something happen with either a hit, scoring chance or just getting under the skin of his opponent. Gallagher is a multi-category contributor to his fantasy owners, and has eight points, 17 penalty minutes and 26 hits in 13 games. He also leads all rookies with a plus-7.
Another potential multi-category producer in the future is the Stars’ Brenden Dillon. The big 22-year-old defenseman has arguably been the best d-man in Dallas this season, and has collected three goals, 18 penalty minutes and 42 hits in 15 games thus far. Dillon has been playing on Dallas’ first power-play unit so if you don’t go grab him now, you at least need to keep an eye on him.
Two rookies who aren’t producing much now, but are showing positive sign for the future are Chicago’s Brandon Saad and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin. Brodin is extremely smooth and poised and is more focused on his own end right now, but has shown flashes of what he can do with the puck. Saad has just two goals, but is taking the puck to the net more and creating chances off the forecheck. He will post decent numbers in the future.
Mikael Granlund, Jakob Silvferberg and Mikhail Grigorenko have combined for a TOTAL of four goals… Nope, projecting rookies is not an exact science. Don’t give up on any of them after just 15 games though.
Finally, the Penguins gave up on Eric Tangradi, basically giving him to Winnipeg for a 7th-round pick. Tangradi was given opportunities on scoring lines in Pittsburgh and failed to produce, so I don't have much hope in Tangradi finding his scoring touch with the Jets.
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you in your leagues.