Yakupov, Granlund, Schultz, Tarasenko, blah, blah, blah... sure we're all interested to see these guys begin their NHL careers this weekend but everybody and their mom is going to be all over these guys in most fantasy leagues. We already touched on the guys making the jump straight from Junior to the NHL, so let's dig a lot deeper into the 2013 rookie class to see what we can unearth.
Here are eight rookies who we'll be keeping a close eye on:
Brenden Dillon, D, DAL - One of two rookie dmen to make the Stars roster along with Jordie Benn. We like the undrafted 22-year-old Dillon's demeanour as he had 59 points & 139 PIMs in his final season in the WHL and 29 points & 97 PIMs in his rookie AHL season last year. Will likely start the season playing limited minutes but let's see where he goes from there.
Teemu Hartikainen, RW, EDM - Alright, I'm lying to you already, Hartikainen isn't actually a rookie after playing a total of 29 games over the past two seasons for Edmonton but this will be the first year that he'll be an NHL regular. Has good size and isn't afraid to get his nose dirty but with all the big names in Edmonton, he'll have to work his way up from the bottom six if he's really going to be a fantasy factor. At the very least, he should chip in with some hits right from the start.
Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL - It's a surprise that the 20-year-old AHL rookie will start the season in Montreal but after three straight 40+ goal seasons in the WHL and some decent numbers in Hamilton (10+10=20, 61 PIMs & 117 shots in 36 games) this year, he's worth keeping an eye on. Everyone else will be watching Galchenyuk, so your eyes will have Gallagher all to themselves.
Chris Kreider, LW, NYR - This is actually an obvious one cause a lot of clowns out there are all over this guy cause they saw him "dominate" in the playoffs last year. The dude is insanely overrated and has spent the year getting dominated in the AHL to the tune of 1+1=2 in his last 19 games. I'll be watching him to see if he looks any better in the Show but I'm preparing myself to be underwhelmed.
Andre Benoit & Patrick Wiercioch, D, OTT - 2-for-1 package deal here as these two have a combined 16 NHL games under their belt but should start the year as Ottawa's 3rd pairing. Benoit isn't Calder eligible as he's 29 but he's been an offensive threat in every league he's played in... and he's played in a lot (OHL, AHL, SM-Liiga, SEL & KHL). He is currently 2nd in scoring for Binghamton with 9+16=25 in 34 games. Wiercioch had disappointed in his prior two AHL seasons but has come on this year with 10+9=19 in 32 games, flashing some of the potential that he showed in two seasons at the UofDenver.
Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL - Was highly touted after being a 1st round pick back in 2010 and there was plenty of hype when he joined the Blues straight out of college last year but I'd say he's flying under the radar a little to start this year as Tarasenko seems to be drawing more of the attention in St.Louis. Hasn't had a great start in the AHL this year with 9+10=19 in 33 games but this kid is very talented so watch out.
Cory Conacher, LW, TB - One of my favourite underrated prospects from last year as I don't think people give enough value to solid AHL production. The undrafted Conacher was an AHL rookie last year and all he did was go on to be league MVP with 39+41=80 in 75 games and chipped in 114 PIMs to boot. His numbers have sagged a little so far this year but he apparently impressed the right people as he'll start the season on Tampa's 2nd line with Lecavalier & Purcell.
Paul Postma, D, WPG - Been waiting for this guy to arrive for a while as he's in his fourth AHL season but has himself a one-way deal this year and should be in Winnipeg for the rest of the season. Should see some 2nd unit PP time and that's where he could surprise with some nice offensive skills and a big point-shot.