NHL Power Rankings: Jeff Skinner and the Top 15 Rookies

Name NameCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2011
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    If you had asked somebody who Sergei Bobrovsky was prior to the 2010-11 NHL season, you could have received any answer, ranging from politician to Russian historical figure. Since then, Bobrovsky has become a top-level goaltender in the NHL and nearly made himself a household name.

    He came out of nowhere to take the starting goaltender job in Philadelphia from the Stanley-Cup-winning Michael Leighton.

    "Bob" has posted 23 wins and seven losses so far this year, as well as a .918 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average.

    It will be interesting to see if he can keep this pace up for the remainder of the season.

NHL Power Rankings: Jeff Skinner and the Top 15 Rookies

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The rookie is an interesting breed.

    They often seem to have more success than the regular player. They join a team they've never played for in a league they've never played in and perform to the best of their abilities. Their play is often surprising to management and fans alike.

    Heck, they've got an entire All-Star Game aspect based around them.

    A player only gets the chance to be a rookie in the NHL once in their lives, so they have to make the most of the experience. So far in the 2010-11 season, first-year players seem to be doing just that.

    The league has been heavily influenced by rookies this year. A first-year goaltending hero, a speedster that's taking the league by who, and possible future threat to the goal scoring title are all characters that have emerged this year, among others. 

    The number of successful rookies this year is rather astonishing. I pity those who have to choose the candidates for the Calder Trophy, the award given to the rookie of the year.

    This year's crop of rookies will likely help form the future of the NHL in a big way. Here are the Top 15 Rookies in 2010-11.

Honourable Mention: James Reimer, G

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Yes, it is true that Reimer has played just 10 NHL games. However, in that time span, he has absolutely earned a spot on this list, even if it's just the "Honourable Mention" status.

    Reimer, 22, is almost single-handedly responsible for that remaining glimmer of playoff hope for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He arrived on a slumping Leafs club and turned them around, taking over the goaltending position by playing a very strong and calm game.

    In 10 starts, Reimer has gone 6-4 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average. Had Reimer started the year with the Leafs and kept these stats, the majority of his numbers would rank among the best goaltenders in the league.

    To top it all off, he's got the coolest nickname in the NHL.

Michael Grabner, RW

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Michael Grabner is one speedy player.

    He was selected to race Taylor Hall in the Bridgestone Fastest Skater race at the SuperSkills competition. He beat him in a convincing manner, posting a time 14.061, the fastest among any player at the games.

    That speed has helped him light up the board this year with 17 goals and 25 points in 49 games. The sniper also has an impressive 14.91 shooting percentage.

    His consistent goal scoring is a slap in the face of sorts to the Florida Panthers, who released him earlier this year.

Brad Marchand, C

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Brad Marchand was relatively unknown to the NHL before this season.

    He has joined the Bruins and contributed in a big way. His 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) place him among the best in Boston. He also sits at sixth in goals and points among NHL rookies.

    Not only has Marchand shown his ability to score, but he has also proved to be reliable defensively. His plus-minus rating is currently at plus-24, good enough for fourth place in the NHL. Not half bad!

    Prior to this year, Marchand had been up and down between the NHL and the AHL's Providence Bruins, but it looks as though he's found a spot on the big club for good.

P.K. Subban, D

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    P.K. Subban has not been having the rookie season everybody expected.

    After a strong playoff performance last year, Subban and the Montreal Canadiens had high hopes for the youngster's rookie campaign. However, that has not been the case.

    It's not like the defenseman has completely bombed the season. He just hasn't quite lived up to expectations. Subban was a healthy scratch for a lengthy period of time in December. He has picked it up a bit since then, taking the benching as a wake-up call.

    In 49 games so far, Subban has posted a decent six goals and 17 assists.

Tyler Ennis, LW

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Tyler Ennis is the smallest player in the NHL.

    Clocking in at 157 pounds, nobody will be expecting this guy to contribute five hits on a nightly basis. However, for what he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill.

    Ennis, 21, is a player with great puck moving skills (depicted at left) and a wicked shot. In 54 games this season, Ennis has totaled 12 goals and 30 points.

    The former first round pick is on a hot streak, notching 11 points in his last nine games.

Jamie McBain, D

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    McBain has given a solid performance in his rookie season so far.

    Playing an average of 18:44 ice time in 54 games this season, he has notched four goals and 19 points from the blue line.

    After being named to the rookie team, the former second round pick received a very warm welcome upon entering the rink during the SuperSkills competition.

John Carlson, D

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    John Carlson is having quite the year. He's stepped into a big role with the Washington Capitals and has thrived, to say the least.

    Carlson has developed into one of their top defenseman and has been logging big minutes, posting an average of 22:11 ice time per game. That ice time is second in the NHL among rookies.

    In 55 games, the defender has posted five goals (three of which are game-winning) and 17 assists for 22 points, as well a convincing plus-13.

    Carlson, 21, looks like he will be anchoring the Capitals blue line for a long time.

Corey Crawford, G

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Corey Crawford has had a great season thus far. He joined Chicago Blackhawks as a rookie back-up, expecting maybe 30 games in the season, tops.

    However, at just the beginning of February, Crawford has already recorded 30 starts, posting a 17-11-2 record.

    He has also posted a .921 save percentage and a 2.14 goals against average, the latter placing fourth in the league.

    Crawford has knocked veteran goaltender Marty Turco out of the starting role this season and looks like the goaltender the Blackhawks will ride into the playoffs.

Jordan Eberle, RW

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    Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

    The long-awaited arrival of the infamous Jordan Eberle is finally here, and while he hasn't hit the impossible expectations set for him, he's done pretty well.

    Eberle entered the league on a strong note, scoring what could possibly be the best goal of the NHL season. He hasn't really slowed down since then, scoring 11 goals and 28 points in 41 games.

    He has missed 13 games due to a sprained ankle, which has affected his point totals.

    Eberle's strong play should provide Oilers fans with comfort and confidence for the future. With Eberle and fellow rookie Taylor Hall leading the way, Edmonton is headed in the right direction.

Derek Stepan, C

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    Derek Stepan knows how to create an entrance.

    On October 9, Stepan became the first player in New York Ranger history to score a hat trick in his NHL debut. Talk about starting off strong!

    Although he hasn't continued at a hat-trick-per-game pace, he has consistently contributed goals, points and solid play to the Rangers.

    In 56 games this season, Stepan has registered 15 goals and 16 assists.

Kevin Shattenkirk, D

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    As a rookie defender, Shattenkirk has proven his ability to play big minutes and produce at an NHL pace.

    He has averaged 19:41 of ice time in the 42 games he's played. It's apparent he used that time wisely, scoring seven goals and 19 assists for 26 points.

    Those point totals place him second among rookie defensemen behind only Cam Fowler, who has played seven more games that Shattenkirk. Had Shattenkirk played the same number of games as Fowler, it's likely he would have surpassed him by now.

Cam Fowler, D

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Cam Fowler has been the best rookie defenseman this season. He has given the Anaheim Ducks just about everything they hoped for when they drafted him 12th overall in the 2010 draft.

    Through 49 games, Fowler leads all rookie defensemen in assists, with 22, and points, with 28. The only blemish in his game is his minus-14 plus-minus rating.

    Fowler looks like he could become the next offensive juggernaut from the back end. He's got the skill, the shot and the potential.

Taylor Hall, LW

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is looking better and better as this list goes on.

    Taylor Hall is the second player on this list to be drafted in 2010 and enter the league in their first year with an NHL team. And here's a hint: there will be more.

    Hall has been great this year. He made the Oilers as an 18-year-old and is leading the team in nearly every aspect on the ice.

    His 34 points is tied for the team lead, while his 17 goals are second only to Dustin Penner, who has 18.

    Hall has proven his worth and looks like the player the Edmonton Oilers have been waiting for.

Logan Couture, C

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Logan Couture has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat in his opening campaign. He has made up for the lack of scoring by slumping superstar Dany Heatley.

    His 24 goals leads the San Jose Sharks and puts him at 12th in the league in that category. He has added 12 assists for a total of 36 points. His plus-minus of plus-13 isn't half bad either.

    However, Couture has one stat that surpasses all of the rest. He currently leads the entire NHL in game winning goals with eight markers. It is this fact that proves his importance to the Sharks squad.

    It must be nice to be able to rely on a rookie to contribute so consistently. 

Sergei Bobrovsky, G

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    If you had asked somebody who Sergei Bobrovsky was prior to the 2010-11 NHL season, you could have received any answer, ranging from politician to Russian historical figure. Since then, Bobrovsky has become a top-level goaltender in the NHL and nearly made himself a household name.

    He came out of nowhere to take the starting job in Philadelphia from the Stanley Cup Finals goaltender Michael Leighton.

    "Bob" has posted 23 wins and seven losses so far this year, as well as a .918 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average.

    It will be interesting to see if he can keep this pace up for the remainder of the season.

Jeff Skinner, C

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Jeff Skinner has been the best rookie this season, hands down.

    He has entered the league and played a strong game, exhibited confidence and put up consistent point totals yearlong. He does so in a very calm and professional.

    The skill of Skinner is undeniable. In 54 games this season, Skinner has posted 20 goals and 43 points, the latter being a total that leads all rookies. 

    He is on pace for a 30-goal, 60-point season. Not a bad way to start your career!

    Skinner also marked his name in the record books during his premiere campaign, becoming the youngest player in NHL history to take part in an All-Star game. At 18 years and 259 days old, Skinner surpassed the record set by Steve Yzerman in 1984. Yzerman was just 18 years and 267 days at the time.

    Skinner has entered the league immediately after being chosen in the 2010 Entry Draft, a feat which most can't accomplish. He was selected seventh overall.


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