Rookies in fantasy drafts are always a hot commodity because no one knows how they’re going to produce. The problem is if you’re one of those guys who likes rookies, you don’t want to take them too early in case they don’t pan out. I’m going to highlight some of this years rookies that I believe will make an impact and when I think is the right time to make your move for them.
1.Nail Yakupov -RW-Edmonton Oilers
Yakupov is likely to be the first rookie off the board, as he was in June. The Oilers who have had the #1 overall selection for the last three seasons landed Yakupov this year and he’ll play on a team that has a plethora of young talent surrounding him. Yakupov dominated the OHL with 170 points in his 107 career games in the O, and had a strong showing during the Lockout in the KHL posting 18 points in 22 games. He enters the shortened season on a team that is expected to score a lot of goals and history says Yakupov will have a hand in it. As the #1 overall in the Draft Yakupov will probably go too early in most leagues, but I think the earliest you’d want to take is the 8th round, however I think 9th or 10th is more suitable.
2. Mikael Granlund-C-Minnesota Wild
Granlund was the 9th overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft and will now bring his game from Finland to the NHL. Granlund should have no trouble making the Wild out of camp. One thing to keep an eye on is who he’ll start the year on a line with. If he gets a chance to play with Parise right out of the gates, Granlund could be in for a big year. Granlund spent the lockout with the Wild’s AHL Affiliate the Houston Aeros and put up 21 points in 21 games. The earliest you would want to make your move for Granlund is probably the 13th round, but don’t sleep on the Finnish playmaker because you may end up regretting it if he plays with Parise.
3. Johnathon Huberdeau-C-Florida Panthers
In the last three regular seasons as a member of the St. John Sea Dogs Huberdeau has amassed 222 points in 134 games. There’s no questioning his size and skill, heading into the season but more the question of who he is going to be playing with. The Panthers have solid wingers but none that jump off their depth chart at you. If Huberdeau can gel with his line-mates early he has the talent to raise their games and could be in for solid rookie campaign. Expectations in Florida are high for him so yours should be too. You can probably wait until the 12th round to grab Huberdeau.
4. Damien Brunner-RW-Detroit Red Wings
Brunner a 26-year-old rookie signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings in July, comes to Detroit after leading the Swiss-A league by 11 points. He played on a line with Red Wings teammate Henrik Zetterberg and Oilers forward Linus Omark. Brunner is expected to start the season with Pavel Datsyuk and his Swiss teammate Zetterberg. I don’t think Brunner could hope for a better line to start his NHL career with and should hit the ground running after a solid Swiss campaign. You can wait to get Brunner until probably the second last or last round of your draft.
Other notable rookies.
5. Justin Schultz-D-Edmonton Oilers
6. Vladamir Tarasenko-RW-St. Louis Blues
7. Alex Galchenyuk-C-Montreal Canadiens
8. Marcus Foligno-LW-Buffalo Sabres