Monday, June 26, 2017

Nico, Then Nolan

The New Jersey Devils led the draft off by taking Nico Hischier, leaving Nolan Patrick to be snapped up by the Philadelphia Flyers and rounding out the top three was defenseman Miro Heiskanen, going to the Dallas Stars.  Many believe both Hischier and Patrick are NHL-ready and should jump in to the league right away, so the rookie class of 2018 should have their headliners and they'll make for interesting picks at the next draft.

Out of the 2016 draft, I am showing that 67 players taken in that class now have contracts, while only nine players were able to crack their respective NHL lineup for at least one game in the 2017 regular season.  Four of those nine players were pool worthy, but that exactly stop a few teams jump on the rookie bandwagon, running the risk of the lack of a rookie pool and in fact, there wasn't one.

It's certainly difficult to gauge just how many rookies we'll see in the 2018 regular season, but of course, we can't just expect those from this past draft to make the leap, as we saw already, there are a lot of 2016 drafted players yet to make their mark and they're a year older now and some will certainly be ready to make the jump.  Six of the top 10 picks last year will still have rookie status and they include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Olli Juolevi, Clayton Keller, Alexander Nylander, Mikhail Sergachev and Tyson Jost, the latter four we've already seen in the NHL.  It could be a big year for the 2016 class.

Dylan Strome is the only top 10 player from the 2015 class that still has his rookie status, but we should prepare for just more than him this season, as Matthew Barzal, Thomas Chabot, Joel Eriksson Ek, Colin White and Brock Boeser are all starting to make noise around their clubs, poised to make their mark here soon.

We've even got two players in the 2014 class' top 10 still carrying their rookie status, as Michael Dal Colle on the island hasn't yet broke through and defenseman Haydn Fleury in Carolina is taking the long road to the big game.  Josh Ho-Sang and Adrian Kempe finally found some semi-regular time at the end of last season, but neither hit the 26-game mark in their career, so they will open next season as rookies and they could be full-time players with reasonable scoring rates.

If there is a rookie pool or not, I don't think anyone is going to touch the rookie scoring record that Scott's team set last season, as he desperately wanted to win his money back, but it just didn't pan out for him on the spin of the wheel.  He picked up eight rookies, including the rookie of the year in the hockey pool, Pittsburgh's Matt Murray, who finished with 74 points, and the Calder Trophy winner, Auston Matthews of the Leafs, who finished with 69 points, among other big freshmen.

If you're going to want rookies this year, you're probably still going to have to fight Scott for them, but you won't know if it will win you your money back until after the draft is finished!

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