At the 2010 entry draft, the question was Taylor vs Tyler, who will go first. Before the season started, all the rookie hype was on 2010 first overall pick Taylor Hall as the prime Calder candidate. Now that we are 15 games in, it’s time to have a look at where the rookie forwards stand. Who is leading the way in the Calder race? Here is a look at the top ten rookie forwards.
1) Jeff Skinner – At 18 years old, Jeff Skinner is leading all rookies with 16 points. After being drafted seventh overall this past summer, Skinner was not expected to play right away in the NHL, but with an impressive training camp, he has worked his way into the line up, and is making his mark. After putting up 50 goals at the junior level last season, it is evident that Skinner has great scoring instincts. If he is still available in your league, you should consider grabbing him while you still can.
2) Tyler Ennis – Checking in at 5-9 163lbs, Ennis is one of the smallest forwards in the NHL. He makes up for his lack of size with a feisty attitude and an aggressive style of play. At the end of last season Ennis put up nine points when he was called up for only 10 games, and added four more points in six playoff games. He is fitting in well for the Sabres, and has contributed 10 points, while holding a +5 ratting.
3) Jordan Eberle – While all the attention in Edmonton is focused on Hall, it is actually Eberle who is making the biggest rookie impression with the Oilers. Drafted 22nd overall in 2008, Eberle put up an impressive 310 points through 254 WHL games. Now he is showing that he can play in the big leagues and is averaging the most ice time for all rookie forwards at 18:13 per game. Through his first 15 games he has recorded 10 points including two shorthanded goals.
4) Mark Letestu – With Jordan Staal out of the line up for the Penguins, Letestu is getting a chance to play in Pittsburgh. After spending 191 games in the AHL, Letestu is showing that he can make an impact in the NHL. Playing primarily as third line center, He has scored nine points in 17 games. Also of note, Letestu holds a 53.9% success rate in the face-off circle, further building on his value for the Penguins
5) Kyle Wilson – On the topic of veteran AHL players, Wilson is another player who has worked his way into the NHL. At the age of 25, Wilson has 298 AHL games under his belt. After failing to crack the Washington Capitals line up, Wilson signed in Columbus over the summer. The move is paying off, as Wilson has scored four goals and seven points in 10 games so far for the Blue Jackets.
6) Taylor Hall – After being drafted first overall by the Oilers this past summer, Hall has had a slow start to his first season in the NHL. Coming straight from juniors at the age of 18, the transition is not always easy for young players. The Oilers as a team have not played great hockey, and it is evident that there is still work to be done in Edmonton. Although Hall has managed to put up seven points in his first 15 games, he holds a -7 ratting, ranking him worst among all rookie forwards.
7) Logan Couture – Coming in at number sven, we have a player in San Jose who may not be part of all the rookie hype but is becoming a big part of the Sharks team. Couture is playing over 17 minutes a game, including time on the power play and penalty killing units. The Sharks have faith in the young center, as he centered their top line while captain Joe Thornton served his suspension. Couture has scored five goals and added one assist in 14 games, with two of his goals game winners.
8) Bryan Bickell – Chicago lost some of their key supporting players in the summer, so their line up is currently filled out with a few new names. Among those newcomers is Bickell, who standing at 6-4 and 223 lbs is a winger with imposing size who works well in the corners and in front of the net. He could be considered the Blackhawks replacement for Dustin Byfuglien in the future but has spent most of his time on the third and fourth lines. Bickel has kicked in with 6 points in 15 games so far making him a decent add for deeper pools.
9) Tyler Seguin – In Boston, Seguin is centering the Bruins third line, while also playing on the second power play unit. As the 2010 second overall selection, Seguin will frequently be compared with Hall even though their careers are probably on completely different paths. Through his first 13 NHL games, Seguin has three goals and six points. The Bruin continues to earn his minutes, but could see a reduction in ice time once players like Marc Savard and David Krejci return from injury.
10) Magnus Paajarvi – Drafted 10th overall in 2009, Paajarvi is the third member of the rookie wave in Edmonton. Coming over from Sweden this past summer, Paajarvi is slowly adapting to North American hockey and has scored six points in 15 games. His speed has really stood out thus far but his production has yet to transition to this style of play; not to mention making a difference on the lowly Oilers is an uphill battle.
Honorable mentions: The following rookies are worthy of honorable mention for playing roles with their respective teams. Keep an eye on them, as they could be good candidates to breakout later in the season.
- Brad Marchand BOS: 13 GP, 6 PTS
- Derek Stepan NYR: 16 GP, 5 PTS
- Mikael Backlund CGY: 15 GP, 5 PTS
- Jake Dowell CHI: 18 GP, 5PTS
- Jordan Caron BOS: 12 GP, 4PTS
- Alexander Burmistrov ATL: 16 GP, 4 PTS
Which one of these rookies do you think can take the Calder trophy? Let us know by posting your comments. Next week we will take a look at the top rookie goaltenders.