I'm going to make a list of 10 players that either are rookies, second year players or players that played in games last season but didn't qualify as rookies (in other words, didn't play enough games).
What is going into consideration isn't just how many goals, assists or points the player may get, but how effective they will be. If it's a defenceman, will he be a shutdown guy or put up points, etc. If it's a forward, it may be how much energy he brings to the ice every night, etc.
While most of the players on this list will have a good point total at the end of the season, some of them may be surprising.
Comment on the list, provide other guys you think should be included. What rookies are going to be instant stars, what second year player or someone who played last year but didn't qualify as a rookie is going to have a breakout season.
So here we go, the 10th player on the list a right winger from the New York Islanders.
Size: 6'1", 203-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 65 games played, 18 goals, 21 assists, 39 points, -6.
Explanation: Okposo showed a lot of promise last season for the last-place Islanders. He was often their best player from the games that I have witnessed. He's plays much bigger than his frame, and can put the puck in the net.
With a year of experience, Okposo will be a huge part to the Islanders making a step in the right direction. He could put up some big points, and he can help out the power play, which was at 16.9 % last year.
He'll play a big part, and could break out for 25 goals and 50-plus points depending on who he plays with.
The ninth player an undersized center from the Anaheim Ducks.
Size: 5'9", 174-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 48 games played, 8 goals, 24 assists, 32 points, +8
Explanation: Ebbett had a tremendous rookie season for the Anaheim Ducks, who has two players on this list, in just 48 games played, he put up 32 points. He has put up points at every level he has played, and last season, he put up some points in limited time.
Eleven of his 32 points were on the power play, netting six goals and collecting five helpers for the Ducks. He's small, but he's fast.
He may have some trouble in the defensive zone, but I think he'll have a big season playing along side whoever he plays with on a very talented Ducks team.
The eighth player plays center for an up-and-coming St. Louis Blues team.
Size: 6'0", 194-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 57 games played, 14 goals, 25 assists, 39 points, +16
Explanation: Brings a ton of energy with his game, and plays a solid two-way game. His +16 third among rookies. He has scoring prowess and hustles every shift. He's versatile, can play either center or wing and was a big part to the Blues success last season.
While he may not light up the scoreboard this upcoming season, Oshie will bring energy to the Blues lineup and play a solid two-way game.
He'll put up double digit goals and put up some points, but he'll make his biggest impact by bringing energy to the ice for St. Louis.
At No. 7, the rookie of the year comes in and plays goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Size: 6'4", 202-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 61 games played, 33-20 record, 2.29 GAA, .916 SV %
Explanation: Listen, Steve Mason was the main reason why the Blue Jackets made the playoffs for their first time in their franchise history. He's going to be a superstar in this league, if not one already. But one year isn't enough to put him up higher on the list.
They say the second season is the toughest for goalies, especially if there isn't a great veteran presence in net to back him up. The Jackets brought in Mathieu Garon to backup Mason, I think he may struggle a little bit this year.
At the same time, he is still going to be great for Columbus. I just don't think he'll have a monster year. He could belong higher on this list, but I have him at seven because I think he'll have some road bumps this year.
The sixth player to come in on the list is a defenceman from the Kings, who has a similar last name to me.
Size: 6'1", 219-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 81 games played, 6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points, -17
Explanation: Drew Doughty was called upon a lot last year, playing at the age of 18 for the first two-plus months, and the age of 19. That's a difficult thing for a young defenceman to handle, especially since they seem to take the longest time to develop.
His 27 points led all of the rookie defenceman, and ranked 18th among all rookies, which isn't too bad for a defenceman. He's a great offensive talent from the blue line, and will improve the Kings power play, and make their offense a little better.
He's still very young, so while it may not be a fantastic year in the plus/minus category, Doughty will be a player to keep your eyes on.
The fifth player is another 19-year-old defenceman.
Size: 6'2", 216-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 70 games played, 2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points, -12, 71 PIM
Explanation: Listen, Luke Schenn is going to be a shutdown defenceman in the National Hockey League, and with the recent additions to the blue line, it could happen as soon as this year.
With guys like Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin brought in to play defense for Toronto, Schenn may be paired with one of them, I'd say probably Beauchemin. Having a veteran guy like Beauchemin or Komisarek next to you, can help a young defenceman out.
He earned a lot of respect last year, his rookie season after getting draft fifth in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He showed he's not afraid to drop the gloves to stick up for his teammates, and he went with some pretty tough cats this past year.
He's not going to make a big impact offensively for the Leafs, but that's not what he is. He's a shutdown defenceman, he will make his impact in his own zone for a much-improved Toronto blue line.
At No. 4 on the list, is the first overall pick from last season.
Size: 6'1", 196-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 79 games played, 23 goals, 23 assists, 46 points, -13
Explanation: Stamkos has a lot to live up to in Tampa Bay, getting drafted first overall in the 2008 NHL Draft. He was highly advertised as it an that put a lot of pressure on the 19-year-old.
He scored 23 goals last season for the Lightning, and looked like he was getting more comfortable as the season progressed. Everyone knows his skill set is tremendous, the pressure is something that will keep him from reaching his potential.
With Vinny LeCavalier still with the Bolts, Stamkos will have some of the spotlight taken off him, but there will still be a lot of it on him. He could put up 60 points this upcoming year, if not more. He's going to be exciting to watch.
The third player is the first overall pick in this year's draft.
Size: 6'0", 198-pounds
2008-09 Stats (with London Knights and Oshawa Generals): 56 games played, 58 goals, 46 assists, 104 points
Explanation: Talking about Steven Stamkos has pressure, John Tavares has even more. Tavares was tabbed as the next superstar, much liked Sidney Crosby, since he was 14-years-old. Will he live up to the hype in his rookie season, I doubt it.
But nevertheless, he's going to be a player to watch for obvious reasons. He'll probably get the Islanders on ESPN a little more, if they pick up on it like they did in Junior World Championships.
Tavares is going to have a pretty good rookie season, but he likely won't be able to make the Islanders great.
The second player on the list is a hybrid forward that plays for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Size: 5'1", 179-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 42 games played, 9 goals, 18 assists, 27 points, +10
Explanation: This may have some biased opinion in it because I am a Flyer fan, but Giroux is going to have a monster season. If you saw this guy play last season, specifically in the playoffs, it's hard not to be impressed with him.
Giroux was the Flyers' best player in the playoffs and had a heck of a rookie season, putting up 27 games in 42 games (one game more than half the season). With a full season out of right-handed shooting magician, Giroux could put up some major points.
He reminds a lot of people of Peter Forsberg, and everyone knows how great he was. Giroux is a magician with the puck, he's a terrific puck handler, his vision is insanely good, his playmaking skills are Forsberg-like, and he's creative with the puck.
Claude Giroux is definitely going to be a player to watch because he's going to be one of the key players to a much better Flyers team.
The player to look for the most is a power forward from the Anaheim Ducks.
Size: 6'2", 218-pounds
2008-09 Stats: 64 games played, 31 goals, 26 assists, 57 points, +13
Explanation: In my opinion, Bobby Ryan had the best season last year of rookies, and should have been named the rookie of the year. And that's not taking anything away from Steve Mason, but I think Ryan established himself as a very good young player with superstar potential.
He was the only rookie to score 30 or more goals, and he'll likely reach that again if not more this upcoming season. Playing with players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Ryan has a chance to become a superstar. One thing that I think is overlooked is that he was drafted No. 2 in the 2005 NHL Draft...guess who was first, Sidney Crosby.
Ryan showed flashes of an old-school power forward with new-school skills, if that makes sense. He has tremendous size, he can put the puck in the net, tough on the puck, is solid in all three zones on the ice, he's just an amazing player.
He's my No. 1 player to watch this upcoming season because I think the Ducks may be a strong contender to represent the West in the Stanley Cup with Jonas Hiller in goal and the amount of talent on their roster.
But hey, it's only July...there's no need for Cup predictions!
Honorable Mentions: Kris Versteeg, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
2008-09 Stats: 78 games played, 22 goals, 31 assists, 53 points, +15
Mikhail Grabovski, C, Toronto Maple Leafs
2008-00 Stats: 78 games played, 20 goals, 28 assists, 48 points, -8
Michael Frolik, C, Florida Panthers
2008-09 Stats: 79 games played, 21 goals, 24 assists, 45 points, +10
If I forget anyone, or you disagree, drop a comment and let's have a discussion about it! I think those 10 players are the most intriguing players to watch this upcoming seasons from the rookie and second year players.