The Best NHL Rookies Nobody Is Talking About

January 3rd, 2017 by Jonathan Willis Leave a reply »
One of the joys of any new NHL season is watching rookies make their debuts at hockey’s highest level. 2016-17 hasn’t been an exception to the rule, and this year, we’ve been treated to a duel between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine—both currently on-pace for 40-goal seasons—at the top of the Calder ranks.

Toronto’s adroit rebuild has leaned on Matthews but also on fellow Calder-eligible players like Mitch Marner and William Nylander, both of whom are having strong campaigns. Matthew Tkachuk in Calgary is playing a key role in the Flames’ resurgence this year. Meanwhile, defenceman Zach Werenski is logging 20-plus minutes per night for the stunning Columbus Blue Jackets, this season’s most surprising team.

This piece, though, isn’t about any of those players. Rather, it’s an attempt to highlight some other players that are easy to miss outside their home markets, rookies who deserve more attention for their strong debuts than they’ve been getting.

A lot of these players, naturally, are defencemen. Rearguards are generally shortchanged in these discussions, even if defence is a tou ...

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