NHL Power Rankings: Kevin Shattenkirk and the Top 20 Rookies So Far
Through the middle of December, the 2010-2011 NHL season has seen a good crop of rookies.
A handful of forwards are on pace for 30 goals—a feat that hasn't been accomplished in two years—while three goalies may finish with 30 wins. The rookie defenders have been very offensively oriented, with two defenders in particular posting high-end offensive totals.
Here's my list of the NHL's top 20 rookies (so far).
20. Mattias Tedenby, New Jersey Devils RW
The Devils' first-round pick out of 2008 hasn't seen as much ice time as most of the other rookies on this list, but in the 17 games he's played, Mattias Tedenby has helped to provide secondary scoring in the Devils' lifeless offense, averaging a point every other game.
19. Linus Omark, Edmonton Oilers LW
He's only played four games, but the Oilers' rookie left wing has made a major impact in the NHL. Not only has he averaged a point per game since being recalled from the AHL, but his shootout goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning is the type of play that can give fans in Edmonton something to cheer about nowadays.
A highlight reel waiting to happen, Omark could rank inside the top 10 by the time April rolls around.
18. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens D
It's been an up and down season for the Habs' rookie blue liner. One minute, Subban looks like a seasoned veteran with endless talent—the next, a rookie having brain cramps with the puck.
Despite being sat down due to poor play for a recent stretch, Subban is too relevant not to crack the top 20.
17. Alexander Burmistrov, Atlanta Thrashers C
Fresh from the draft, the 19-year-old Alexander Burmistrov has been a good support player for an Atlanta Thrashers team on the rise.
He hasn't lit up the score sheet (yet) but has still provided quality secondary scoring while playing in all situations for the Thrashers.
16. Magnus Paajarvi, Edmonton Oilers LW
The second of many Oiler players to make the list, Magnus Paajarvi is quietly having a solid rookie campaign for the blue and orange.
After a rough month of November, Paajarvi has caught fire in December, scoring eight points in as many games.
15. Mark Letestu, Pittsburgh Penguins C
On a Penguins team that's very top-heavy in terms of talent up front, secondary scoring is key. With third-line center Jordan Staal recovering from injury, rookie center Mark Letestu has filled in admirably.
He hasn't filled Staal's defensive role completely, only seeing spot work on the PK, but has posted an impressive 14 points through the middle of January.
14. Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres LW
Tyler Ennis has slowed a little since scoring seven points in October, but the Buffalo Sabres rookie is still carving himself out a nice rookie campaign.
The 21-year-old Ennis is third among Buffalo forwards in scoring with 16 points, and his plus-one rating is impressive given all of Buffalo's other top six forwards are in the minus.
13. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins C
For an 18-year-old rookie who's currently playing a different position than the one he was drafted as (right wing), Tyler Seguin has looked pretty darn good.
He hasn't been given a ton of ice time (averaging under 13 minutes per game), but 11 points in 30 games isn't a bad start for Seguin. Given the adjustment period to the NHL, it's likely Seguin will improve on those numbers in the second half of the season and finish north of 40 points.
12. Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks LW
Losing players like Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, and Andrew Ladd has hurt the Chicago Blackhawks' scoring ability so far this season, but rookie Bryan Bickell has stepped up to fill in for some of that scoring.
With injuries to Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, Bickell has flourished in an increased role, scoring five goals and three assists so far in December. His nine goals rank fourth on the Blackhawks.
11. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks G
The Blackhawks' goaltending has been mediocre at best this season, but most of the struggles fall on veteran Marty Turco.
Rookie Corey Crawford, who's been given a full-time NHL shot after making his first NHL start back in 2005-2006, has been as good as can possibly be expected. He leads the Blackhawks with 10 wins and has posted impressive individual numbers in the process.
Considering that he's 9-2-1 since the middle of November, expect more Crawford and less Turco in the coming months.
10. John Carlson, Washington Capitals D
John Carlson has had a very impressive season for the Washington Capitals. He's been pretty solid in his own end and has been the go-to guy at the blue line at times, as Mike Green has battled injuries.
He's slowed down offensively after scoring six points in the first five games of the season, but the 30-plus points Carlson is likely to finish with is quality production from any defenseman, let alone a rookie.
9. Derek Stepan, New York Rangers C
There's been a revolving door at the center position for the New York Rangers the past few years. With Chris Drury injured for a large portion of the season and ineffectiveness from veteran Todd White, it's been Derek Stepan's time to shine.
Stepan ranks third on the Rangers in both goals (nine) and points (19). Most importantly, he's been consistent, scoring three goals in each of October, November and December.
8. Michal Neuvirth, Washington Capitals G
The departure of Jose Theodore in the offseason and injuries to Semyon Varlamov left a big question mark in goal to start the season for the Washington Capitals. Neuvirth was given the call, and over the course of the season he has made a case for himself to be a long-term option for the Caps.
He's slowed down since winning seven games in October, and the return of Varlamov has cut into his playing time, but Varlamov has pieced together a solid rookie season so far, winning a career-high 13 games (topping the nine games he won last season).
7. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers RW
After scoring at ridiculous levels in the WHL and AHL, Jordan Eberle hasn't disappointed in his first NHL season. Not only is he on pace for nearly 60 points, but the 20-year-old rookie has seen big time on the Oilers' penalty kill, where he's scored twice short-handed.
6. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers LW
Many may see Eberle as having more of an impact with the Oilers thus far, but I feel the promised one is currently having and will continue to have more impact as the season continues.
Hall hasn't had as defensive of a role as Eberle has had, but offensively he leads the Oilers in goals with 10 and has improved greatly as the season has gone alone. Hall has seven goals in the last 13 games and could be the first rookie since Bobby Ryan to hit the 30-goal plateau.
5. Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks D
Not only is Fowler a 19-year-old rookie who was drafted only a few months ago, but he was avoided like the plague at that draft, being selected almost 10 spots later than expected.
So far, the Ducks are reaping the rewards.
The replacement for Scott Niedermayer as a quarterback on defense, Fowler has only gotten better as the season has gone along. The adjustment period for defensemen is usually rough, so it can't be understated how phenomenal Fowler's 17 points in 30 games have been, especially considering the Ducks are in the middle of the pack in terms of goals scored.
4. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes C
Yet another example of a freshly drafted player having a huge impact in the NHL. Right now, the Carolina Hurricanes are battling for a playoff spot, but they probably wouldn't be without Skinner's 23 points.
At 18 years old, Skinner is the youngest player on the list, and he has a great chance to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He's been consistent all season long, and he'll give voters something to think about if he becomes the first 18-year-old rookie since Patrick Kane to eclipse 60 points.
3. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks C
After only making a small impact the first two months of the season, Sharks forward Logan Couture is absolutely on fire in December.
With nine goals in only 10 games, Couture now leads all rookies in goals and also leads the San Jose Sharks in goals (who, by the way, have Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau).
If he continues his torrid pace and scores 40 goals, he'll easily win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
2. Kevin Shattenkirk, Colorado Avalanche D
Not since Mike Green has a rookie defenseman lit up the score sheet as much as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
The stats are slightly inflated given that the Avalanche are the highest scoring team in the NHL, but 19 points in 22 games is ridiculous for a rookie defenseman—especially when considering he had zero points in 10 AHL games earlier in the season.
Shattenkirk has a good shot at the Calder. He's unlikely to keep up his current 70-point pace, but if he finishes with over 10 goals and comes close to 60 points, he'll be a shoo-in.
1. Sergei Bobrovksy, Philadelphia Flyers G
What can you even say at this point?
The undrafted rookie who no one had ever heard of started the first game of the season and hasn't looked back since.
Being a key cog in what is currently the best team in the NHL makes it obvious that if the season ended today, Bobrovsky would win the Calder. Barring a nosedive in his play, that'll probably still ring true come summertime.