We are now into the third week of the season and already some teams have already been turning heads and make splashes around the league. The San Jose Sharks have come flying out of the gate having gone 6-0-0 to start the season and taking over the number one spot in the NHL Power Rankings. In Colorado the Avalanche are off to a 6-0-0 start with their new bench boss Patrick Roy at the helm. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames, despite the overwhelming doubt heading into this season, have put up a very solid 3-1-2 record, not losing their first game in regulation until game 6.
Now there are many different factors that can be attributed to the early success of these three teams, but one thing that each has greatly benefited from is the play from some of their rookies. So, in saying this let’s take a look at some of the rookies from these squads and see what they have done to help give their teams an early edge.
In San Jose one man has stolen the show and arguably set the hockey world ablaze and that is 19 year old Czech sensation Tomas Hertl. Hertl, San Jose’s first round pick in 2012 (17th overall) has quickly made a name for himself. Through his first six games he has amassed an incredible 7 goals and 9 points. Hertl’s 7 goals to date are the most in the NHL.
Hertl’s greatest accomplishment was easily his performance against the New York Rangers when he put up 4 goals including his highlight reel fourth goal where he was able to put his stick between his legs and go top shelf on Martin Biron. Hertl has quickly become a fan favourite amongst Sharks fans and already has defensemen around the league keeping a close eye. Although Hertl did garner a lot of criticism for what some believe to be “showboating” on his fourth goal against the Rangers, the fact of the matter is this kid has tremendous skill and a nose for the net and is in no doubt a big reason for the Sharks red hot start.
Hertl's Fourth Goal Against the New York Rangers
In Colorado the Avalanche are off to a perfect 6-0-0 and though a lot of this success can be attributed to the new systems brought in by new head coach Patrick Roy and the unbelievable play of goaltender Semyon Varlamov another is the exceptional play of 2013 first overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon.
It’s hard to be surprised when the number one overall draft pick puts up big numbers, but in MacKinnon’s case there was a lot of
skepticism as to where he would be taken in the draft this spring. It was until his stellar play in the Memorial Cup for the eventual winners the Halifax Mooseheads that MacKinnon put a stamp on that number one spot. However, going into this season after the draft the hype around MacKinnon seemed to die down.
Well MacKinnon has been in the lineup for the Avs in every game so far this year and in 6 games MacKinnon has put up 7 points including 6 assists, good enough for most on the team. What may be more impressive than the numbers MacKinnon has put up is the way he has composed himself on the ice. MacKinnon, as he did in junior, looks to be one of the fastest players on the ice. For an 18 year old rookie to come into the NHL in his first season and not look out of place just goes to show how truly skilled this young man is. There may have been a lot of skepticism as to who this year’s numbers one draft pick should have been, but so far MacKinnon is proving the Avalanche made the right choice.
Last year the Calgary Flames saw their worst finish in over a decade and with franchise cornerstones Jarome Iginla and Miika Kiprusoff now out of the picture many, myself included, gave very little hope for the Flames to make the postseason. However, after six games and a solid 8 points in the standings the Flames have shown they still have a bit of fight in them.
One player who has had a real spark for the Flames has been rookie Sean Monahan. Monahan who was the Flames first round pick in 2013 has started his first NHL season with 5 points in his first 6 games for the Flames. In fact Monahan recorded a point in each of his first 5 games in the league, the first player to do this since Jonathan Toews did it back in 2005.
Though Monahan is in just his first season in the NHL he may be relied on to provide a large portion of the offense this season for the Flames. Coming into the season the Flames highest point producers were Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak who each only put up a mediocre 32 points in 48 games. The Flames clearly lack what many would consider a top 3 forward and with this absent from their lineup it will be up to players such as Monahan to pick up the slack.
Monahan proved in junior with the Ottawa 67’s who finished last season with a 16-46 record that even on a struggling team he can still put up a lot of points and provide offense. Despite his team’s terrible record Monahan still recorded 78 points in 58 games. So, for Monahan it seems that Calgary might be a familiar setting for the skilled forward.
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