NHL 2008-2009 Season Preview: Impact Rookies

Nate SantoianniCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2008

As the beginning of training camp looms, one can’t help but wonder what this year’s batch of rookies will bring to the NHL.


Who among this batch of teenagers is going to rise above the rest and make the league take notice? I’d like to try and answer just that question.


What I’m about to present to you is my list of top 10 rookies for the 2008-2009 season.  This is not a rating based on potential, but on immediate impact to either the team or the league, so bear that in mind as you read.



10.  Blake Wheeler, W

NHL Club: Boston

Former Club: University of Minnesota


Wheeler is said to be deceptively fast and can move the puck at high speeds. He could be riding shotgun next to Kessel, and if he does then he could be a very dangerous player; the two played together in Minnesota during the 2005-06 season.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 50 games, 25 points



9. T.J. Oshie, C/W

NHL Club: St. Louis

Former Club: North Dakota Fighting Sioux


Oshie’s scouting report touts him as a player who plays with a lot of energy and competes every night. That sounds like something you’d hear about a grinder, but the guy can put the puck in the net as well. In addition, Oshie will be 21 when the season starts, giving him a leg-up in the maturity race among other rookies.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 60 games, 20 points



8. Ville Leino, LW

NHL Club: Detroit

Former Club: Jokerit Helsinki (FIN)


Leino, signed as a UFA this off-season, was the SM-liiga’s player of the year last year—he scored 77 points in 55 games. If Leino can quickly adapt to the pace of the NHL, then Detroit has acquired a seriously significant scorer. 


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 75 games, 35 points



7. Thomas Hickey, D / Drew Doughty, D

NHL Club: Los Angeles

Former Clubs: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) / Guelph Storm (OHL)


I lumped these two together because they are both highly touted shut-down defensemen that will seriously impact the LA Kings. Last season the Kings allowed 266 goals against (third worst in the league). With the loss of Rob Blake the Kings will greatly benefit from the defensive abilities of their young defensemen.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats (Combined): 140 games, 20 points, + 2



6. Derick Brassard, C

NHL Club: Columbus

Former Club: Syracuse Crunch (AHL)


While not technically a rookie (17 NHL GP), Brassard is going to have a significant impact on the Blue Jackets' roster next season. Because he was hampered by a jaw injury last year, management decided to keep him in the AHL after 17 games in the NHL. Once he recovered he put up fantastic numbers. He’ll be the club’s No. 2 center.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 45 points



5. Fabian Brunnstrom, LW

NHL Club: Dallas

Former Club: Fajestads BK (SEL)


The most sought after (unsigned) free agent on the market was Fabian Brunnstrom, and Dallas won the bidding for his services. Compared to countrymen Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin, if Brunnstrom lives up to his lore, then he can really add some offensive depth to the Stars.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 50 points



4. Kyle Okposo, C/W

NHL Club: New York Islanders

Former Club: University of Minnesota / Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)


Okposo debuted in nine games with the Islanders, notching five points. Certainly not a bad start. The fact that he is compared to Jarome Iginla, and also that his name in Nigerian means “Thunderstorm,” does not bode well for opponents.  He will be the face of the Isles for years to come.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 45 points



3. Jakub Voracek, RW

NHL Club: Columbus

Former Club: Halifax (QMJHL)


The Blue Jackets’ luck may finally change. After years of underwhelming first round draft choices (Picard, Brule), Voracek may finally be a prospect worthy of a first round selection.


Jake came out of a fantastic season with Halifax with one goal in mind—make the NHL.  This offseason, Jake can be seen in the Blue Jackets’ facilities working out with other prospects such as Derick Brassard. To date, Jake has added 20 pounds to his frame and has trimmed down his body fat. He now stands at 6'1" and 200 pounds. 


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 55 points



2. Kyle Turris, C

NHL Club: Phoenix

Former Club: University of Wisconsin


Turris was the No. 1 rated skater going into the 2007 draft, and there is good reason for it—the kid can flat out play.


Scouts compare him to Joe Sakic, and after seeing him play I’m not surprised. Look for him and Mueller to ignite next season.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 65 points



1. Steven Stamkos, C

NHL Club: Tampa Bay

Former Club: Sarnia Sting (OHL)


Not much needs to be said about his talent potential—what I will mention is that, unlike many first overall picks, Stamkos is not going to be the only one with talent on the team. The revamped Lightning are chock full of helpers for Steven—there is a very good chance his linemates will be Vinny Prospal and Ryan Malone…not bad.


Projected 2008-2009 Stats: 80 games, 75 points


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