A look at some rookies who are preparing for the NHL's biggest stage.
Last season, rookies Chris Kreider and Mark Stone each made their NHL debuts in the playoffs, facing off against each other in the opening round between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. Kreider, without playing a single game in the regular season, went on to tally seven points in 18 playoff games before the Rangers were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final.
The 2013 lockout shortened season has shown an impressive crop of rookies who will look to follow suit if given the opportunity. Some have put themselves on the fantasy radar in the regular season, others, as Kreider did last year, will hope to do so in the playoffs.
1.) Mikael Granlund – Round 1, 9th Overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Replacing the injured Mike Rupp, 21-year-old center Mikael Granlund was recently called up to the Wild yet again this season.
With a playoff spot all but clinched, the number one prospect in one of the deepest prospect pools in the league will be looking to stay on the roster come playoff time. Splitting time in the NHL and AHL this season, Granlund has eight points in 25 NHL games in his rookie campaign and 28 points in 29 games with the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros.
Granlund is regarded as the future of the Wild franchise, touted by scouts as a playmaking center with great vision and natural talent with the ability to play any forward position. Whether it’s in the NHL or the AHL, Granlund will get his first taste of playoff hockey this season. The Aeros currently sit 5th in the American Leagues Western Conference. Granlund will certainly be on fantasy radars next season, but will benefit from playoff hockey in the minors where he will likely stay once sent down. He could however, provide a solid option on the Wild’s fourth line, in the event of injury.
2.) Tyler Toffoli – Round 2, 47th Overall 2010 NHL Entry Draft
20-year-old 2013 AHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Toffoli scored 48 points in 55 games with the Los Angeles Kings affiliate Macnhester Monarchs in the AHL this season.
Toffoli made his NHL debut March 25, skating on a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, scoring his first NHL goal to tie the game against the Blackhawks with 1:27 remaining in the third. Toffoli went on the play seven more NHL games this season, tallying an impressive five points in that span. Possessing a great shot, Toffoli is touted by scouts as a highly skilled forward with great hockey sense.
The Monarchs are a fringe playoff team in the American League and may not make it. The Kings may want to give Toffoli another call up to The Show, and give him his first taste of playoff hockey. Presently the Kings are sitting pretty, fourth in the Western Conference with no injuries to their forward corps. Toffoli could get the call on an emergency basis, if and when injuries to key forwards occur.
3.) Jacob Trouba – Round 1, 9th Overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft
As the Winnipeg Jets hang onto a playoff spot by a thread, their number one defensive prospect, 19-year-old Jacob Trouba, could make his NHL debut before seasons end and give the Jets a much needed push into the playoffs.
Standing at 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, Trouba is touted as a shut-down defensemen capable of delivering bone crushing hits as well as contribute offensively. Trouba is often compared to Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber, for his combination of size and skill. In 112 games at various levels of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Trouba has scored 17 goals, 58 points. This season, playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines, Trouba was 37-12-17-29 in the CCHA.
Trouba has yet to make his NHL debut, however, practiced with the Jets April 9. He played his final game with Michigan March 24, paving the way for his pro-debut. It is likely that Trouba will make his professional debut with the Jets American Hockey League affiliate St. Johns Icecaps, however, the Jets may wish to throw him into the fire by debuting him in the playoffs.
4.) Anders Lee – Round 6, 152 Overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Before signing with the New York Islanders April 1, 22-year-old center Anders Lee scored 61 goals and115 points in three seasons at the collegiate level with Notre Dame. Lee has two points in two games in the NHL this season, scoring a goal on his first NHL shot. The Islanders are riding the outstanding play of center John Tavares all the way to their first playoff berth since 2007 and may look to Lee for some extra fire power and added depth up front.
Other Posts from Schopp:
DobberHockey's 2013 Prospects Report is available for purchase (and will be released for download on June 1)