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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.