Week 2 NHL Rookie Report
As the season reaches week two, the rookie picture is coming into greater focus. This week we will take a brief look at the the top rookie scorers thus far, then turn our attention to the early disappointments, and finally scout some lesser known rookies who have hit this ice in recent games.
The top story continues to be the play of Cory Conacher. We flagged him in our post-training camp Rookie News Update, we moved him into our top 10 projected rookies to start the season, and we also promoted him in our most recent Pick 'Em Up article. He is playing amongst the Lightning's top 6 forwards, getting loads of power play time, and he just set a Tampa Bay franchise record on Friday by becoming the first rookie in team history to record points in each of his first four games. The likelihood is that Conacher and the Lightning will eventually cool down a bit (Martin St. Louis is also ripping it up), but this is one rookie trend that should be ridden hard until that happens. Conacher is definitely even worth a regular roster spot. If he's on your waiver wire. Pick him up.
Other rookies who are getting their chance to play big minutes and contribute are Tarasenko (currently tied for third in the NHL in goals), Schultz, Huberdeau, Yakupov, Granlund and Hamilton. (Click here for the current rookie scoring leaders.)
While some rookies are off to fast starts, others have barely gotten out of the gates. The most prominent three names are Sven Baertschi, Chris Kreider, and Mark Scheifele. While Baertschi is getting decent playing time and will likely find the net soon, Chris Kreider's stock is quickly dropping.
After a strong showing in last year's playoffs, Kreider tanked it in the AHL during the lockout, and after being a non-factor in the Rangers' first three games, he was scratched in NY's most recent loss to Philadelphia. Although he still has a chance to impress, there is talk that Kreider could be sent down to the AHL. And, the latest news is that he's day-to-day with an ankle injury. If you have Kreider in your rookie spot, you need to find a backup option immediately. This is clearly a situation where a rookie has lost his momentum due to the labor dispute.
In Winnipeg, Scheifele was getting a chance to make the long-term roster, but he was scratched in the Jets most recent game, a comeback win over the Penguins on Friday. One thing to remember is that all 5-game tryouts will expire in the coming 7-days, at which time teams will be forced to make roster decisions based on paying rookies their full first-year salaries. This does not bode well for Scheifele, who could easily be demoted to the AHL this week.
Now, let's turn our attention to some other new names around the league who linger on the fringes of fantasy relevance - at least in regards to filling your hockey pool rookie spot.
1. Jordan Schroeder (VAN - C) Schroeder has been biding his time in the AHL for the past two full seasons, and he showed promise last year, posting 21 goals and 44 points in 71 games with the Chicago Wolves. He was drafted out of the NCAA in 2009 (22nd overall) where he was a play-maker for Minnesota (73 points in 72 career games over two seasons). He's 22 years old, and on Friday he collected his first NHL point by setting up Mason Raymond's second goal of the game. Due to the injuries to Kesler and Booth, Schroeder is getting a chance to play. If he can continue to produce, he could quietly find himself in the NHL for the full year.
2. Paul Postma (WPG - D) Postma was drafted 205th overall back in 2007. He's now 23 and, after a solid start to the season on the Jets blue line, it looks like he will spend his season in Winnipeg. He's played three full seasons in the AHL, where he put up solid numbers from the back end: 118 points in 188 career games. He isn't going to lead the Jets in defensive scoring, but he slots in as the team's #3 offensive blue-liner, behind Byfuglien and Enstrom.
3. Patrick Wiercioch (OTT - D) While all the rookie talk in Ottawa going into the season was about Silfverberg and Zibanejad, Wiercioch has found a home amongst the Sens defensive core, recording 2 points in 4 games to start the year. He was drafted 42nd overall in 2008 out of the NCAA, he's 22 years old, and he's got 2 years of AHL experience to his credit. His stats there aren't flashy (38 points in 124 games), and his early production this year is a tad out of line with his typical production. Don't read to much into his early scoring. Although Wiercioch could very well stay in the NHL full time, his current tenure is due to injuries to Jared Cowen and Mike Lundin.
4. Brian Lashoff (DET - D) GMs who drafted Gustav Nyquist (Nyquist was called back up to the NHL this week) or Brendan Smith as their rookie from Detroit are likely looking at Lashoff with a puzzled eye, but once again injuries tell the full story here. With three of Detroit's top defenders on the injury list (Ericsson, White and Colaiacovo), Lashoff is doing his best to help the Red Wings' ailing D-core limp through the start of the season. His AHL numbers are not impressive like Postma's, and Lashoff will not be amongst the top rookies at the end of the year.
5. Digging even deeper we see names such as Matt Irwin (SJ - D), Simon Despres (PIT - D), Scott Laugton (PHI - C), and Leo Komarov (TOR - C).
There you have some of the lesser-known rookies to note at this time. In this lockout-shortened season, it appears that our top rated freshman heading into the season are indeed the ones who will make a fantasy impact. For our full 2013 Rookie Rankings, purchase your copy of the 2013 Draft Guide or Last Minute Pack today.