With all the attention the young superstars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are receiving, other highly rated rookie are starting the season unnoticed. Here’s a couple rookies who won’t be living in the shadows for long and could even contend for the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the year). If you don’t recognize these names now, you will very soon.
Max Domi #16 Left Wing- Arizona Coyotes
Drafted 12th overall, in the 2013 NHL drafted, Max Domi exploded onto the scene last year with his performance in the World Junior Championships (WJC). On his way to receiving a Gold Medal with team Canada, Domi had ten points in seven games. After the WJC, Domi continued his huge year in the OHL with the London Knights, where he tallied 102 points (32 G, 70 A). Domi has great vision on the ice and a wicked wrister that any goalie is going to have trouble stopping. Domi has picked up right where he let off last year with a great training camp for the Coyotes. He has found himself playing on the first line with Vermette and Beodker. In his first game he netted a goal and an assist. Domi, has a bright future in front of him, and with Coyotes being a very young team, he expect to see major minutes all year long.
Dylan Larkin #71 Right Wing- Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin was born in Waterford, MI played his college hockey at the University of Michigan, and was drafted 15th overall in 2014 by the Detroit Red Wings; talk about a hometown dream. Many thought Larkin was making a big mistake after turning pro after only year with the Wolverines. Quickly, Larkin has turned some of his doubters into believers. Larkin, 19, has been more than impressive during the preseason and has earned himself a roster spot with the Red Wings. As a freshman, he had 46 points (15 G, 31 A), well for second best on the team. Also, in the WJC he led team USA in goals with five in five games. Larkin is a youngster with huge upside, and as he starts the season, he finds himself playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg will be feeding Larkin the puck all year racking up his point total. If the Wings want to keep their streak going of 24 consecutive years making the playoffs, they will need a big year out of Larkin.
Nikolaj Ehlers #27 Right Wing- Winnipeg Jets
Drafted 9th overall in 2014, from Aalborg, Denmark, Nikolaj Ehlers has been an absolute animal in the QMJHL that last two seasons. As a member of the Halifax Mooseheads, Ehlers put up back-to-back 100+-point seasons. Plus, he added 50+-points in he two postseason combined with the Mooseheads. With great eyes on the ice, you can expect this Danish, to be dishing out dimes all year long for the Winnipeg Jets. In 2013-14 he took home the RDS Cup for the top rookie in the QMJHL; and now, he’ll be trying to be the top rookie in the NHL and take home and steal this year’s Calder Trophy.
Sam Bennett #93 Center- Calgary Flames
Last season, as a rookie, Johnny Gaudreau had a breakout year for the Calgary Flames. This year, the Flames have another rookie that will catch many fans’ eyes. Sam Bennett was the 4th overall draft pick in 2014. The Canadian born player played his junior hockey in the OHL, where he tallied over 150 points in the three seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs. Bennett has already had a taste of the NHL. During the playoffs last year, he was called up. In 11 playoff games, he had four points, including three goals. Bennett is a big body forward who loves to crash the net. He is always hungry to score goals and will be a huge asset to the Flames if they hope to make it far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Noah Hanifin #5 Defenseman- Carolina Hurricanes
Defenseman, Aaron Ekblad took home the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, if a defenseman is going to do it this year, my bet is on Noah Hanifin. Hanifin fell into the Hurricanes lab at 5th overall in the 2015 draft. At age 18, he already has an NHL-type body and a stride that makes him one of the smoothest skaters you will ever see. Hanifin grew up playing for the U.S National Development Team and then took his talents to Boston College. He played for only one season and notched 23 points in 37 games. The Hurricanes are expecting big things out of Hanifin and he expect more and more minutes to come his way as the year goes along. The ‘Canes hope one day that Hanifin will be the rock on the blueline, that they can build their franchise around.
Enjoy the race for Calder Trophy; there are many top-notch rookies in the NHL this season.