Early Favorites and Dark Horses for the 2013-14 NHL All-Rookie Team

James OnuskoContributor IIINovember 7, 2013

Early Favorites and Dark Horses for the 2013-14 NHL All-Rookie Team

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    The 2013-14 NHL All-Rookie team could be one of the best ones in the past decade. There have been some young players that have not simply held their own, but are quickly evolving into leaders on their respective teams.

    Some teams, such as the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks, can boast more than one player that are going to receive heavy consideration to make the All-Rookie squad at season's end.

    We'll take a look at the early favorites and dark horses at each position in the early part of the 2013-14 season.

    All stats, unless otherwise noted, are from nhl.com

     

Goaltender

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    Early Favorite: Frederik Andersen (Anaheim Ducks)

     

    The Anaheim Ducks have an embarrassment of riches in goal. They feature great NHL netminders, as well as a number of excellent prospects. Rookie Frederik Andersen has posted some outstanding numbers so far this year.

    He has an excellent .952 save percentage and his goals-against average is a minuscule 1.36. He has four wins in four games and has looked dominant in large stretches of games. The 6'4" native of Denmark is 24 years old who has some good AHL and Swedish Elite League experience.

    The Ducks are a very good hockey club, so expect Andersen to receive a lot of defensive help and goal-scoring support on most nights.

    Dark Horse: Eddie Lack (Vancouver Canucks)

     

    Lack is not likely to get a lot of playing time this year, as Roberto Luongo is off to a strong start in goal for the Canucks. But Lack has a respectable .909 save percentage and may get a chance to play if he performs well when called on by coach John Tortorella.

Defensemen

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    Early Favorites: Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) & Torey Krug (Boston Bruins)

     

    Seth Jones has been sensational in his rookie season. The fourth pick in the NHL Entry Draft has averaged over 25 minutes per contest, and has lined up against the top lines on opposing teams. Yes, he has Shea Weber to help him along, but he's contributed seven points in 14 games while also registering four hits and 24 blocked shots. He is poised and quick to move the puck when he gets it.

    Torey Krug has been almost as good as Jones, although he hasn't been counted upon in quite the same way as the Nashville star. Krug has played just over 18 minutes per game and does lead rookie defensemen in scoring with eight points. 

    He has been excellent on the power play and already has three power-play goals in 2013-14. Krug isn't playing against top competition on many shifts, but his relative Corsi Number of 1.5 is solid given his rookie status.

    Dark Horses: Radko Gudas (Tampa Bay Lightning) & Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins)

     

    Radko Gudas is leading rookie defensemen in hits with 50 and has also had 34 blocked shots. He's not a scorer but is playing a physical brand of defensive hockey. He's becoming a player that forwards need to watch out for on every shift.

    Olli Maatta is not getting the same amount of ice time as these other players, but he's played a steady game that has made it impossible for the Penguins to send him back to the OHL. He'll only get better as he continues to mature over the course of the season.

Left Winger

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    Early Favorite: Michael Bournival (Montreal Canadiens)

     

    Left wingers have been somewhat less heralded than players at other positions, but there have been some very good players on the left side. Michael Bournival hasn't had a lot of ice time in Montreal but he has had eight points in thirteen games. He has displayed good consistency and is plus-six in 2013-14. 

    He will continue to be eased into his NHL career so that should help him manage the arduous 2013-14 season with the compressed schedule.

    Dark Horse: Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)

     

    Chris Kreider has been one of the few bright spots for the New York Rangers this season. He has good size on the wing, and he's an excellent skater. He's had six points in seven games, and he has a chance to play a lot of significant minutes on Broadway with the Rangers needing to move up in the standings quickly.

Right Winger

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    Early Favorite: Alex Chiasson (Dallas Stars)

     

    Right winger Alex Chiasson has more experience than many rookies having played at Boston University for three seasons and parts of two seasons in the AHL with the Texas Stars.

    The 6'3" winger from St. Augustin, Quebec plays the game with an edge as well as some scoring touch around the net. He has 10 points in 15 games and has 19 hits in those games. He has a good all-around game that will continue to endear him to Dallas fans.

    Dark Horse: Valeri Nichushkin (Dallas Stars)

     

    Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin was one of the more talked about players coming into last June's NHL Entry Draft. He was taken 10th overall, and while he hasn't had as fast a start as some fellow rookies, he's shown flashes of great play. 

    Expect Nichushkin to improve in leaps and bounds as he figures out the North American game. 

Center

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    Early Favorite: Tomas Hertl (San Jose Sharks)

     

    Tomas Hertl has cooled off from his white hot start, but he remains a frontrunner to be named to the NHL All-Rookie team. Hertl is playing just over 15 minutes per game and has 13 points to lead all rookie scorers. He's also plus-eight and has taken 48 shots on goal. 

    Hertl is highly skilled and he benefits from playing on one of the best teams in the NHL in San Jose. He doesn't have to be a go-to-guy as he acclimatizes to the league.

    Dark Horse: Mark Arcobello (Edmonton Oilers)

     

    Mark Arcobello has been one of the better rookie stories this year. The undersized center is 25 years old, yet he has made the most of his opportunity with the Edmonton Oilers who have been decimated by injuries. 

    Arcobello has 12 points this season and he's been relatively strong at the faceoff dot with his 52.9 faceoff percentage. He can also play on the wing and this versatility could keep him with the Oilers for the rest of the season as their forward group gets healthier.