Every year, a handful of young bloods stand out in the NHL with the ability to make or break your fantasy team. Take Jeff Skinner’s 63 point breakout performance or Logan Couture’s impressive 56 point run. The real difficulty lies in figuring out which rookies to grab quickly, and which are just a flash in the pan. With no stats to go on, you have to rely on your intuition, knowledge of the teams in the NHL, and most importantly, the amount of opportunity being presented to each player by their respective organization. That being said, here is a look at the current top five Rookie prospects this season:
1) Craig Smith (14 Points, +/- 0, 45 SOG)
Be careful dropping an important component of your team for Smith as Trotz isn’t exactly famous for a heavily offensive system. Don’t be surprised by Smith cooling off in the near future, especially when his line-mate Hornqvist finishes off his point streak. Unless you are in a league that doesn’t penalize moves, be weary of this points explosion from Nashville.
2) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12 Points, +3, 27 SOG)
a strong start to the season for Edmonton is fueling “the Nuge”, but this is still a very young and inexperienced squad. The first line is already seeing a decrease in production, save for Taylor Hall. Nugent-Hopkins is definitely worth keeping an eye on for next year, but don’t bank on him to break 50 points this season.
3) Luke Adam (11 Points, +/- 0, 33 SOG)
Who would have thought that 21 year old Luke Adam would be stealing Derek Roy’s spot on the top line? Definitely no one that drafter Derek Roy. As long as Thomas Vanek remains healthy, Adam is a great go-to rookie and is still only owned in 19% of all fantasy leagues, despite a consistent start to the season
4) Gabriel Landeskog ( 8 Points, +2, 56 SOG)
With a SHP, 56 shots and 8 points in total under his belt already, Landeskog is a great addition to any team, especially if you are in need of some shooting power. No one expected this kind of start to Colorado, but with a rejuvenated blue line featuring Kyle Quincy, and Varlamov playing superbly between the pipes, the defensive woes of the Avalanche seem to be a thing of the past. If he is still kicking around in your league, don’t be afraid to take a chance on him.
5) Sean Couturier (8 Points, +9, 24 SOG)
Despite only receiving third and fourth line minutes, Couturier has already racked up an astounding 8 points and is +9 on the season. He is clearly a very talented player, but considering the amount of talent Philly has down the center, he is not going to be doing too much for your team this season. If you have a keeper league, he is definitely someone you should keep an eye on. The only direction he is going is up.
It’s always nice to take a look at where the kids are who really shined last year. Sometimes they can go undetected in a draft and be an important asset to your squad later in the season:
1) Jeff Skinner
Already sitting pretty with 14 points on the season, Skinner probably went pretty high in your draft. Unless you picked him up with a decent pick, he’s not sitting around waiting for you.
2) Logan Couture
Another talented player in San Jose, he has plenty to work with and 11 points to show for it. Don’t expect his numbers to drop any time soon.
3) Michael Grabner
Because of the Islanders’ slow start, Grabner is sporting an awful -4 with 18 SOG. For one of the fastest players in the NHL, this is incomprehensible. The Canucks were put under fire for letting him go last season, but maybe Gillis and the coaching staff saw something that no one else did. Keep an eye on him, but don’t expect a repeat of last season.
4) Tyler Ennis
On the IR for the majority of the season so far, but only owned in 40% of yahoo fantasy leagues. If you have an extra IR slot, he is definitely worth it. When he returns, expect him to be playing on Buffalo’s second line and adding to an already formidable offense.
5) Derek Stepan
A real surprise this season, Tortorella is giving the kid plenty of ice time and opportunity, placing him on the first line with Gaborik and Anisimov as well as making him part of the first PP unit. He is only owned in 12% of fantasy leagues, and is a steal if you can get your hands on him first.