Ranking the 10 Best Rookies in the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Not all rookies are created equal. This is the time of the year when we find out which NHL newcomers have the necessary mettle to make a significant leap in the postseason spotlight.
Unlike rookies of the past, there is a much smaller sample size for this current crop. The lockout-shortened regular season cost these young players an additional 34 games to fine-tune their craft in preparation for the playoffs.
A quick-paced campaign that must seem a lot like baptism by fire for rookies doesn't get any easier as the race for a Stanley Cup intensifies. Here's a look at 10 first-year standouts who should be in for strong playoff performances.
10. Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild
The 21-year-old American continues to grow more comfortable as an important part of the Wild's attack. Coyle can distribute the puck with consistency thanks to impressive on-ice awareness.
He finished the regular season with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 37 games played. Coyle, a right winger, has compiled a pair of assists through three playoff games.
9. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators
Though he hardly made much of a blip on the radar during the regular season, Pageau is picking the right time to step up. The 20-year-old center registered a hat trick against Montreal in a 6-1 victory in Game 3 that changed the dynamics of their first-round playoff series.
He played in just nine regular-season games, picking up four points in the process, but Pageau has five points in the Senators' past four contests.
8. Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins
The 6'5" defenseman is a bruiser for Boston and fits right in with the team's in-your-face style of play. Hamilton, 19, uses his large frame to gain position and provides the Bruins with a lock-down defender down low.
He also made his mark on offense during his first regular-season campaign. Hamilton accounted for 16 points in 42 games.
7. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild
The defenseman helps anchor the back end of Minnesota's attack. He is among a bevy of young contributors who helped the Wild return to the postseason as an eighth seed in the Western Conference.
The 19-year-old Swede was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft and has the makings of an All-Star-caliber defender for years to come. He is still a work in progress as a scorer (11 points in 45 regular-season games) ,but doesn't back down against the league's most intimidating offensive threats.
Brodin played just over 34 minutes in his playoff debut, an overtime loss at Chicago.
6. Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa Senators
The 22-year-old right winger ranked sixth among rookies in scoring during the regular season. Silfverberg scored 10 goals to go along with nine assists and carried a plus-nine rating.
He has two goals and an assist through his first three postseason appearances. Silfverberg hasn't missed a game this year.
5. Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles Kings
The young defenseman stepped up just as the injury bug began to take its toll on the defending Stanley Cup champions. Muzzin moved into a pivotal role with Los Angeles during the second half of the regular season.
He tallied 16 points in 45 games are rarely looked lost on the ice. Muzzin picked up a playoff assist in the Kings' Game 1 loss to St. Louis.
His plus-16 regular-season rating is indicative of the impact he's made during his first full year as a pro.
4. Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens
The third overall pick of the 2012 NHL draft quickly proved himself at the pro level this season. Galchenyuk finished tied for fifth among rookies in points (27) and second in assists (18).
The 19-year-old picked up an assist in each of Montreal's first two playoff home games. He has played in every Canadiens game this season.
Galchenyuk carried a plus-14 rating during the regular season.
3. Cory Conacher, Ottawa Senators
Conacher finished third among rookies in points (29) and second in assists (18). The Senators' roster is brimming with young talent, and the team added another promising youngster by trading for the left winger from Tampa Bay in April.
The 23-year-old is still seeking to solidify his role with Ottawa, but a highly productive, albeit limited, tenure with the Lightning shows he is capable of taking on a large offensive load.
2. Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks
He hasn't had any trouble carving out a niche within one of the league's premier veteran-laden lineups. Saad ranked second among rookie forwards with 16:27 of action per game, tallying 10 goals and 17 assists during the regular season.
Playing alongside Stanley Cup champion and established Chicago star Jonathan Toews, he racked up a rookie-best plus-17 rating and managed two game-winning goals. Saad has logged at least 21 minutes on ice in two of the team's first three playoff matchups against Minnesota.
He is one of three Calder Trophy finalists.
1. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens
The forward finished the regular season with 15 goals, ranking second among rookie scorers. Gallagher's three game-winning goals helped contribute to 28 total points, which place him fourth among first-year players.
He compiled a plus-10 rating during the regular season and helped spark the Canadiens to the second seed in Eastern Conference playoffs. Gallagher scored a goal in each of Montreal's first two playoff games and has been named a Calder Trophy finalist.