NHL Fantasy Hockey Pool Strategy Guide

Rookie Report: Opening Night Update

With opening night of the NHL season now imminent, there are a number of new rookie developments.  We've already updated our Top 50 Rookie Rankings, and that can be found in the updated copy of the draft guide and cheat sheets, but the following is a further supplement that GMs should read prior to draft night.  

1. Jonathan Drouin (LW - TBL) - Despite a strong showing in the preseason, Jonathan Drouin - the third overall pick from the 2013 Entry Draft - has been sent back to the QMJHL.  It is now unlikely that he will play in the NHL in 2013-14, although the Lightning could technically still recall him. This means Drouin should be downgraded drastically in our rookie rankings.

2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C - Ottawa) - Pageau will make the Senators to start the season, but he is not assured to play every game - yet.  We like Pageau, especially after his hat trick performance in last year's postseason, but the Sens only have two final starting spots at center for three players (Mika Zibanejad and Zack Smith are the others). Of course, there's the possibility that Ottawa will find creative ways to get Pageau into the line-up.

3. Boone Jenner (C/W - Columbus) - The biggest "rookie surprise" is Boone Jenner, who has made the Blue Jackets out of camp thanks to the space created by the Nathan Horton injury.  Jenner was drafted 37th in 2011, and had a good final year in juniors in 2012-13: 45 goals and 82 points in 56 games. Initial reports have him playing the top line with Gaborik and Dubinsky.

4. Bo Horvat (C - Vancouver) - Horvat was drafted ninth overall at the 2013 Entry Draft following his great goal-scoring run in last spring's OHL playoffs (16 goals in 23 playoff games).  The Canucks desperately want Horvat to make the team because he's the player they ultimately received from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Cory Schneider.  It appears likely that he'll at least receive a nine-game regular season tryout, despite having a less than stellar preseason.  Interestingly, the lesser known Hunter Shinkaruk is also poised to make the team out of camp after a good preseason - Vancouver took him 24th overall in NJ.  However, there's still a possibility that one (or both) will be sent back to juniors after nine-games.  Draft with caution.

5. Jacob Trouba (D - Winnipeg) - Trouba is all the rage amongst the talking heads, and he's now a sure bet to make the Jets out of camp.  It also appears that he'll stay for the entire season. However, it's important to note that the Jets are deep on D.  Trouba bumps Postma, Pardy and Redmond down the depth chart, despite the fact that all three have acquitted themselves nicely in their short NHL careers.  We suspect that injuries will once again play a factor in the formation of the Jets' blue line, and that all of these players will see time in 2013-14.  Trouba is only 19 and he's the least experienced of the lot; he only has one year of NCAA hockey under his belt.  Trouba is not seasoned like Justin Schultz was heading into last year.  Not to mention the fact that Trouba plays defense, not forward.

6. Chris Kreider (LW - Rangers) - Even though he's been given every opportunity to make an impact with the big club, Chris Kreider continues to fall short.  The latest news out of New York is that Kreider's poor preseason means he will start the year in the AHL, which has huge implications for fantasy owners.  The last thing anyone wants is a dud in the line-up.  We suspect that Kreider will eventually get his act together, but we're planting another caution sign here.

7. Ty Rattie (RW - St. Louis) and Dmitrij Jaskin (RW - St. Louis) - It's impressive that the Blues have both of these players in their organization, which speaks to the team's recent drafting.  Rattie and Jaskin are two of the very best point/game producers from the CHL last year, but even though they've both impressed in the preseason, neither is a lock to make the team.  St. Louis is one of the deepest squads in the NHL.  Yet, note their names because both could "surprise" after the season starts.

8. Max Domi (C - Phoenix) - Finally, the Coyotes have sent their 2013 first round pick Max Domi back to juniors.  We speculated in the draft guide that this would be the case.  The reality is that most 2013 draft picks will not be in the NHL by the mid-October. 

Other recent player developments covered in the draft guide and rankings update include Valeri Nichushkin (DAL) and Sean Monahan (CGY).

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