It's a fresh new year for the NHL, and that means that we get to see more shining stars of tomorrow begin their careers. Last year, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Carey Price made their names as the rising stars of the future. This year a whole new and exciting rookie class has chance to make history.
Here is the list of the top 10 NHL rookies that may make an impact for your team this year:
1. Steven Stamkos, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning (Drafted 2008)
This kid has it all. At the ripe age of 18, Stamkos has shown that he can already compete at the highest level. In only two NHL preseason games, Stamkos has one goal and one shootout goal for the Lightning.
2. Kyle Okposo, Winger, New York Islanders (Drafted 2006)
Okposo, the seventh pick in the 2006 draft, already has a little NHL experience and has proved that he has the potential to be superstar. In his first nine games, Okposo had five points while potting two goals and notching three assists. He combines the rare combination of size and speed that will give him a huge advantage over defenders.
3. Kyle Turris, Winger, Phoenix Coyotes (Drafted 2007)
Turris, a highly touted Canadian player, made his NHL debut for the Coyotes last year, playing the final three games and recording an assist. The speedy forward recorded an astounding 121 points in 55 games for the Burnaby Express of the BCHL in only his second season and recorded 19 points in 26 games for the Wisconsin Badgers before being called up to the Coyotes.
4. Drew Doughty, Defenseman, Los Angeles Kings (Drafted 2008)
The Kings selected Doughty second overall after Steven Stamkos, and I think they made the right choice. Doughty will most likely be paired up with other Kings future star D-man Jack Johnson soon to improve the Kings' soon-to-be All-Star defense.
Doughty showcased his offensive talent in the OHL, with point totals over 32 points and even 74 points in each of his three seasons. However, Doughty will have to fight for a roster spot with fellow Kings' prospect Thomas Hickey.
5. Claude Giroux, Winger, Philadelphia Flyers (Drafted 2006)
Though some worry about Giroux's small stature (5'11" 172 lbs.), I think Giroux will be an elite scorer in the NHL for years to come. Giroux recorded 106 points in only 55 games in the OMJHL and set a record, scoring a total of 51 points in a mere 19 games during the playoffs.
6. Nikita Filatov, Winger, Columbus Blue Jackets (Drafted 2008)
Filatov may be the second coming of the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin. This speedster has the speed and offensive skills to potentially net 45-50 goals in his rookie season in the NHL. Filatov's only flaw is his defensive play, which will make him a liability to the Blue Jackets.
7. Bobby Ryan, Winger, Anaheim Ducks (Drafted 2005)
Ryan is the player mostly known for being drafted second overall after the one and only Sidney Crosby. He is a power forward who will prove to be a star or bust this upcoming season with the Ducks. Ryan did record 10 points in only 23 games for the Ducks in '07-'08 and should improve upon those numbers if he lives up to his potential.
8. Zach Bogosian, Defenseman, Atlanta Thrashers (Drafted 2008)
The Thrashers need all the help they can get, but with a young core of solid players and Ilya Kovalchuk, hopefully they won't have to spend much more time at the bottom of the standings.
Bogosian is expected to make an immediate impact for the Thrashers this season with his size and offensive prowess. He scored an impressive 61 points in 60 games last season for Petersborough of the OHL.
9. Jakub Voracek, Winger, Columbus Blue Jackets (Drafted 2007)
Voracek, if paired up with Rick Nash, will most definitely make a large impact in the NHL. Voracek nearly put up two points per game in the QMJHL last year for Halifax, potting 33 goals and 68 assists for a total of 101 points in only 53 games.
10. Nikolai Kulemin, Winger, Toronto Maple Leafs (Drafted 2006)
Kulemin, a rather large and physical presence, is sort of stuck in a similar situation to that of Zach Bogosian. Kulemin is stranded on a struggling and weak Maple Leafs team not expected to do much this season.
Kulemin is almost a lock for one of the Leafs' top two lines which should get him a bunch of playing time and opportunities to score, barring injury.
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