With the 2022–23 NHL season just over a month old, clubs, trends, and players are really starting to gel and give us a better idea of what to expect from some of these combinations.
Additionally, rookies are starting to leave their marks. Although this season hasn’t yet produced a breakout star, first-year players have put on some impressive performances as the next generation of young talent continues to enter the league.
This week, we’re selecting a rookie to watch on each team in our NHL Power Rankings.
1. Boston Bruins (14-2):
Given how well Jakub Lauko performed during his seven-game stint to open the season, it might only be a matter of time before we see him return to the lineup after being sent down to the AHL to make room for a healthy Craig Smith. Lauko recorded a goal, an assist, and a pretty great post-game interview during that stretch. This is a challenging one to overcome, though, given the Bruins’ almost flawless start to the year.
2. New Jersey Devils (13-3):
During this remarkable win streak, the Devils’ depth throughout the lineup has been on full display. Rookies like forward Fabian Zetterlund have seamlessly taken Ondrej Palat’s spot on the top line, where he was injured, and Akira Schmid appears ready to share some of the spotlight in goal after Mackenzie Blackwood was injured.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (13-4):
Logan Thompson, a rookie, is the solution to the season’s biggest goaltending conundrum. The 25-year-old goaltender, who made 17 starts last year, has proven to be more than just the stand-in for Robin Lehner during his protracted injury layoff; he is now a starter in his own right. Thanks to his stellar 8-3 record,.922 saving percentage, and two shutouts, he is presently ranked second among all NHL goalies.
4. Carolina Hurricanes (10-5-1):
Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, who gained some crucial postseason experience last spring, has yet to drop an NHL regular-season game between his three-game stay in April and two early-season starts this year. Although he defeated Chicago on Monday night in his first career shutout, his previous best performance was against Edmonton four days earlier:
5. Colorado Avalanche (8-5-1):
Shane Bowers, who was selected by Ottawa with the 28th overall pick in the 2017 draft and was traded to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene deal, became the last first-round pick in his class to make his eagerly anticipated NHL debut. Cale Makar was also selected with the fourth overall pick. On November 10 versus Nashville, he attained his goal. Sadly, a clumsy accident ended up cutting short his debut and forcing him to begin his NHL career on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
6. New York Islanders (11-6):
Neither a 21-game stint from last season nor a two-goal outburst early in the season were sufficient to guarantee Robin Salo a spot on the squad for 2022–23. He has already traveled to and from AHL Bridgeport this season; further travel is possible.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (9-5-3):
With all due respect to Erik Kallgren, who has stepped in wonderfully (and at times with very little assistance), his is the rookie tale that nobody really hoped for this season because it required Matt Murray to miss a significant amount of time. In each of his seven games this year, the 26-year-old has given the team a chance to win.
8. Los Angeles Kings (11-7-1):
On November 1, defenseman Brandt Clarke, Los Angeles’ eighth-round pick in 2021, participated in his ninth NHL game. The 19-year-old was sent to AHL Ontario for a conditioning assignment earlier this week after spending a considerable amount of time in the press box. Will he return?
9. 5-5-2 Dallas Stars:
There are no longer any concerns regarding the NHL readiness of forward Wyatt Johnston (not that there were many). Perhaps as a result of his propensity for acts like these:
10. Winnipeg Jets (9-4-1):
Cole Perfetti, the 10th overall pick in 2020, is performing admirably for the Jets in his rookie campaign. Just ask his coach.
He is exerting himself greatly even without the puck, if you watch him. Although that results in greater offense, he is much more mindful of his responsibilities without the puck, Jets head coach Rick Bowness said last week to Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe. He is receiving the puck more often. He isn’t just waiting around for the puck to find him. There are moments when he will succeed, and he has done a far better job at that by actively participating in the game rather than passively waiting for it to come to him.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (9-6-1):
It’s only fitting that the Lightning nonchalantly moved a sixth-round pick from 2017 into their top four, only to watch him absolutely soar. The season of Nick Perbix got off to a terrific start, and it keeps getting better as he develops his attacking game. He had one assist in his first eight games, but his last five games have seen him score three goals and accumulate five points.
12. Florida Panthers (9-6-1):
The top prospect pool appears to be a little shallow after goalkeeper Spencer Knight and winger Anton Lundell helped the Panthers win the Presidents’ Trophy last season. Florida hasn’t yet added a rookie to its starting lineup.
13. Edmonton Oilers (9-8):
Stuart Skinner, a rookie backup, has gained attention as a result of Jack Campbell’s early-season troubles. Skinner, who had a 6-6 record in his limited action the previous season, is currently 3-4 and has established himself as a candidate to start.
14. New York Rangers (8-6-3):
After spending the most of last year playing in Russia, Vitali Kravtsov needs some luck to prove he is prepared to stick in the NHL. The 22-year-old has played in just six of New York’s 17 games this season due to four different sicknesses, including minor injuries, tooth problems, and most recently the stomach flu.
15. Seattle Kraken (8-5-3):
With five goals and nine points so far, Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken (8-5-3) is playing (and looking) more like a veteran than a rookie. He is now second in rookie scoring with those stats. But everyone’s attention is still focused on Shane Wright’s game total (seven) and his upcoming appearance.
16. Calgary Flames (7-6-2):
Like the majority of his colleagues, backup Dan Vladar has had a sluggish start to the season despite playing in 23 games for Calgary last season. He won his first game of the season against the Oilers before losing three in a row.
17. Minnesota Wild (7-7-2):
Mason Shaw is currently one of Minnesota’s top news stories. After three ACL operations, he traveled back, and this week he received the good news that every prospect hopes for.
18. Detroit Red Wings (7-5-4):
It will be difficult to top last year’s class, which featured Calder winner Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond’s 57-point season, but Detroit’s youth movement is still going strong. Jonatan Berggren was called up after rookie Elmer Soderblom suffered an injury, and he hasn’t spent any time in making an impact. He has one goal and one assist through three games.
19. Philadelphia Flyers (7-6-3):
Philadelphia Flyers (7-6-3) are the team with the most rookies on the ice this season, with six skaters and a goalie suiting up for a total of 60 games. With three goals each, forwards Noah Cates and Wade Allison are in the lead. Cates, who has participated in each of Philadelphia’s 16 games this season, is the team’s top rookie scorer with six points after two games of two points in the previous week.
20. Washington Capitals (7-9-2):
Only Beck Malenstyn, one of Washington’s three rookies, has played in more than one game this season. In his five games in October, the 24-year-old winger recorded a goal and an assist.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins (6-7-3):
Pierre-Olivier Joseph’s season has been put on hold for a week due to a lower-body ailment. Could it also have an effect on trade rumors? His name is allegedly being bandied about as a potential mover due to the depth of the Penguins’ blue line.
22. St. Louis Blues (7-8):
Top prospect Jake Neighbours scored in St. Louis’ victory to start the season, but a losing streak of eight games necessitated, well, a lineup adjustment to give him the playing time he requires. The wait for Neighbours to arrive will be a little longer for Blues supporters.
23. Nashville Predators (7-8-1):
Juuso Parssinen took just five minutes against the Rangers on Saturday, three years after being taken in the seventh round, 210th overall, in 2019:
24. Montreal Canadiens (8-7-1):
The rookies for the Montreal Canadiens (8-7-1) have had a strong start. The trio of 2020 first-round pick Kaiden Guhle, top pick Juraj Slafkovsky, and early fan favorite Arber Xhekaj have accrued a total of 67 penalty minutes.
25. Arizona Coyotes (6-8-1):
Rookie Matias Maccelli is a key component of Arizona’s surprisingly effective power play. He has scored 10 points so far this season, seven of them while having the advantage. Last weekend, the rookie with the most assists and points among all rookies made history by becoming the first one to reach double digits in assists and points while playing on the power play against the Devils.
26. Chicago Blackhawks (6-7-3):
The rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks came into the season with a definite job vacancy in net, and rookie netminder Arvid Soderblom is maximizing the chance. With a 2.60 goals against average and.931 save percentage, the 23-year-old shares Chicago’s crease with seasoned players Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock and is 2-2-1 on the season.
27. San Jose Sharks (6-9-3):
San Jose Sharks (6-9-3): The Sharks have yet to put on a rookie jersey despite having the third-lowest goals per game in the league. Calls for top prospect William Eklund should start now.
28. Buffalo Sabres (7-10):
The 2021 first-overall pick has performed as promised, and Owen Power has arrived. He already shares time on the top duo with Rasmus Dahlin and has the most ice time among all rookies in the league.
29. Ottawa Senators (6-9-1):
Shane Pinto has found his scoring touch this season, scoring eight goals in 16 games for the league-leading rookie total after scoring just once in his first 17 games over the previous two seasons.
But the blue line, where Jake Sanderson has made an immediate effect, has drawn all eyes. With nine points after a two-assist performance in Buffalo on Wednesday, he joined Pinto on the verge of a double-digit season.
30. Anaheim Ducks (5-10-1):
Mason McTavish, the third overall pick in 2021, has had a great year. He represented Canada at the Olympics in February, helped Hamilton win the OHL championship before being named an All-Star for the Memorial Cup in June, and led Canada to the world junior gold medal in August. His next challenge is to demonstrate that he can adapt as a centerman down the middle now that he has shown he is prepared to play every day in the NHL.
31. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-9-1):
This season has seen six rookies make the lineup, four of whom are defensemen. This year’s youth boom is being spearheaded by the quick center Kent Johnson. With three goals and seven points in 12 games, he is well-positioned for a potential rookie scoring race provided he can play consistently, which he hasn’t yet done. His high-skill game has immediately made him a fan favorite.
32. Vancouver Canucks (5-9-3):
Nils Aman, a forward selected by the Avalanche in the sixth round of the 2020 NHL Draft, has been one of the few bright lights for the struggling Vancouver Canucks (5-9-3) this season. When it was needed, he and his linemates Will Lockwood and Dakota Joshua brought a burst of enthusiasm.