NHL Rookie Mid-term Report Cards

Sebastien TremblayCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2009

Now that half the season is done, let's evaluate how the rookies have been doing.

Is anyone failing at this point?!

Steve Mason
Grade: A+

Steve is still going strong! I'm pretty impressed with the rookie goaltender! I never thought the skills and potential I saw at the World Junior Championships last year would translate so quickly into NHL success!

It's always a bit tougher for rookie goaltenders to make a big splash and take a run at the Calder, but Steve Mason has been more than impressive. He as taken the entire team on his shoulders and has already won many games on his own.

Playing for what is still a struggling team, if he keeps this pace up, he could not only win the Calder, but take a run at the Vezina as well. He's first in GAA with 1.81, second in SV% with .936 and first in shutouts with six...and he's only 20 years old.

Will the Blue Jackets finally make the playoffs? I sure hope so and if they do, Mason will be the Calder winner for sure. If the season ended today there would be no doubt he would win.

Bobby Ryan
Grade: A

He has the unfortunate tag of being drafted right after Sidney Crosby. But if Bobby keeps playing like this, he could make a big splash and steal the Calder, the trophy Sidney lost to Ovechkin!

He's playing at almost a point per game with 28 points in 29 games. He's obviously too strong for the AHL so I started asking myself, what if the Ducks had kept him up from the start? Maybe he'd have 40 points already?

Nevertheless he's looked very comfortable replacing Teemu Selanne. He's currently fourth in rookie scoring but has played less games than Patrik Berglund (39), Blake Wheeler (45) and Kris Versteeg (42).

Kris Versteeg
Grade: A

Well, maybe he's not a fluke? He might just be one of those classic late bloomers that show up once in a while. Needless to say, the fifth round pick has been a surprise and lead the rookie scoring with 36 points in 42 games. He's even been outscoring former Calder candidate and franchise center Jonathan Toews!

He plays with grit, seems comfortable on the top two lines and is one of the reasons why the Blackhawks are doing so well right now. When Havlat and Toews were not at their top early this year, he stepped up.

He's been one of the front-runners for the Calder since the season started and remains a strong contender.

Drew Doughty
Grade: A

Even if he plays for the perpetually struggling Los Angeles Kings, Doughty who just turned 19, looks like a veteran. I took me just one game to realize just how strong this kid will become. Doughty will be the next big thing on defense.

He may not have an impressive offensive record but his overall contribution to his team has been huge. Doughty seemed to have taken control of the young defense squad and if what he does now is any indication of the future, Doughty will make a huge impact in the league.

He may not be as flashy as some of the other nominees but he should be considered a strong contender for the Calder still.

Patrick Berglund
Grade: B+

Great positioning, smooth hands and a deadly shot, Berglund has a the ability to become as dangerous as Zetterberg. With 29 points in 39 games Berglund has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season for the Blues so far.

They had a promising start, but injuries have plagued the Blues since and Berglund has taken advantage of it and on such a young team, he looks surprisingly at ease.

As I said before, european players usually take a bit longer to adapt to North American hockey but the Blues have found one of those exceptions.

I think the Blues have a first line center in the making in Berglund within maybe two years.

Luke Schenn
Grade: B+

Luke deserves a mention simply because defensive defensemen like him often go unnoticed because of their style of play. Schenn has been a rock on the Leafs blueline and easily one of their best defensemen.

He's not flashy, not very offensive but extremely effective in his own zone. Luke Schenn will become one of those punishing defensive defensemen every team should have. Think about a better version of Anton Volchenkov or Mike Komisarek. Think Scott Stevens in his later years.

I'm not sure if we'll ever see Luke Schenn rack up 50 points although I sure hope so! But he's exactly the kind of kid you want to build your defense around. He's the best prospect Toronto has had in a very long time!!

Blake Wheeler
Grade: B

He slowed down his pace a bit but Wheeler is one of the reasons the Bruins are doing so well this year. At 6'5, he's not easy to push around and at only 22 years old, he will become bigger and stronger still.

He currently stands third in rookie scoring with 28 points in 45 games, but his plus\minus 27 dominates all rookies and is second in the league. Wheeler has been a perfect fit on the Bruins second line and if he picks up his pace from earlier this year, 30 goals is not unreachable on such a strong team.

Worthy of mention:

Derick Brassard
Grade: A

If not for that shoulder injury he would probably still be in the running. But his season is over now and the Blue Jackets are again left without a center for poor Rick Nash. But Brassard can look forward to next year thinking he will probably be Columbus number one center.

Mikhail Grabovski
Grade: B-

The kid has a temper! He plays with much more grit than I thought he would. He was on fire earlier this year and if he picks up the pace he could rise in the top five again. He's become a valuable prospect for the Leafs and should become more consistent when he learns to control his emotions.

Jakub Voracek
Grade: B-

Before the season started, I thought he would be the front-runner for the Calder. He had such a strong last year in the juniors but has had some trouble adapting. But who can blame him, the right winger needs a quality center which the Blue Jackets are seriously lacking. His style reminds me a bit of Paul Kariya so if that's any indication, he should be fine!

Pekka Rinne
Grade: B-

Will Nashville eventually chose a number one goaltender? Vokoun was traded thanks to the strong play of Chris Mason, who then saw his job stolen by Dan Ellis and now Rinne comes in and steals the job once more. All that within three years. Nashville is struggling but Rinne has looked good but for how long?

M. I. A:

Zack Bogosian
Grade: C

It's not is fault, he broke his leg and missed over 30 games. But he just got back in the lineup and posted his very first goal and first assist of his NHL career. As an offensive defensemen, it took him 12 games to do so which I feel is a little slow for a rookie of his caliber. Bogosian wants to do everything on the ice but maybe he's trying to do to much?

Steven Stamkos
Grade: C-

Seen Stamkos? Perhaps once or twice? Maybe he's hiding behind Lecavalier? Or maybe it was too early to make such a big fuss over him. Okay, the Lightning are struggling badly. Stamkos is not gig enough yet, but in a couple years, when he starts tearing up the league, we'll be tired of seeing him!

Kyle Turris
Grade: C-

I had heard so much about his scoring skills that maybe I expected too much. Before the season started, a lot of analysts had him as one of the front-runners for the Calder. I'm not saying he wont be great eventually, but unless he drastically picks up the pace, he's just not in the running.

Agree or disagree? Let me know! Or maybe I forgot someone you think deserves mention? Unfortunately, I can't watch each and every hockey game so these are just my picks based on what I've been able to see. Feel free to let me know about those prospects I could've missed!