Last year Tyler Myers won the Calder trophy at the age of 20, putting up an impressive 48 points in his rookie season. In recent years, young defensemen like Myers and Drew Doughty contributed in big ways on the blue line. Let’s have a look at the top rookie defensemen for 2011.
John Carlson – Carlson is leading the way for rookie defensemen, with 7 points in 12 games. The Washington Capitals have a powerhouse roster with some dangerous offensive players, and Carlson is getting a chance to produce with the likes of Mike Green and Alexander Ovechkin. The young defender is proving he belongs with strong play; he also leads his team with 30 blocked shots.
P.K. Subban – Subban stepped up for the Canadiens in the playoffs last year, and has continues to look good in his first season with the Habs. Playing with great speed and a feisty attitude, he is averaging close to 22 minutes of ice time– including almost 4 minutes a game on the man advantage. So far Subban has six assists, and although he is still searching for his first goal of the season, his booming slap shot is sure to get one soon enough. With Andrei Markov back, Subban should also start to produce more.
Matt Taormina –The New Jersey Devils have struggled so far this season, but Matt Taormina has stepped in to take the role of power play quarterback. With injuries on defence, Taormina is taking advantage of his opportunity, averaging 20:49 of ice time per game along with 3:27 on the power play. He has scored three goals and added two assists in his first 14 NHL games.
Cam Fowler – Drafted 12th overall this past summer, many were surprised when Fowler dropped out of the projected top 5. It was another surprise to see Cam Fowler playing in the NHL this season, but after the retirement of Scott Niedermayer, the Anaheim Ducks were left with a big hole to fill on their blue line. Considering the Ducks have a lack of depth defenders, Fowler has been given a chance to play and is doing a fine job. Despite missing six games with a neck injury, he recently returned to the lineup on Wednesday when the Ducks defeated the Lightning. Fowler is playing an average of 20:46 per game, and has put up three points in his first seven NHL games.
Jamie McBain – After getting a taste of NHL action in Carolina last season, McBain worked hard in the summer to be ready for 2011. The rookie has a good mix of offensive skills and managed to produce 10 points in 14 games last season. He is averaging just over 19 minutes of ice time through 12 games and has produced three assists so far.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Drafted 6th overall in 2009, Ekman-Larsson has played well for the Phoenix Coyotes. The young Swede is playing 19 minutes per game, and has put up two assists and a +3 ratting in his first 11 NHL games.
Which rookie defensemen will have the greatest impact with his team this season? Let us know what you think by posting your comments. Check back next week when we track the top 10 forwards for the 2011 rookie class.