NHL Power Rankings: All-Rookie Roundup

Check out the NHL’s top goals of the week including more magic from Patrick Kane and a milestone goal from Daniel Sedin.

Our new No. 1 team — the Chicago Blackhawks — was pretty much inevitable.

The ‘Hawks had been trending upward for four consecutive weeks and had nowhere else to go but to the top.

Chicago leads the league in goal differential (their +33 is nine notches above Tampa Bay), owns the best penalty kill (91.2%) and is tied with Nashville in goals against per game (1.96). Even better, the Blackhawks now have Patrick Sharp back in the lineup.

Two rookies — both goaltenders — can be credited with keeping Chicago rolling during its NHL-best seven-game winning streak in spite of an embarrassing injury to the team’s No. 1 goalie. So for this week’s write-up, we decided to evaluate each club’s freshmen contributions.

Here are the NHL Power Rankings: All-Rookie Edition.

Rank Team

With starting goaltender Corey Crawford suffering two injuries already (including one at a Rise Against concert), rookie goalies Antti Raanta (three wins, .942 save percentage) and Scott Darling (four wins, .939 save percentage) have filled in as well as management could’ve hoped.

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Red-hot Detroit has plenty of youth, but ice time for rookies has been scarce. Work-in-progress blueliner Xavier Ouellet fared well in the five games he saw action (two points, plus-3).

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Telling that one of the league’s most dominant clubs relies so little on rookies. Defenceman Brian Dumoulin leads all Pens freshmen in games played — three — and no Pittsburgh rookie has registered a point.

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An early favourite for the Calder Trophy, Filip Forsberg handily leads the entire league in plus/minus with a +23 rating. Although the Swedish centre needs to improve his face-off performance (33%), he leads all rookies in goals (12), game-winners (four) and points (27).

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Josh Manson, 23, has played un-flashy but solid minutes (19:13 average) on an Anaheim defence that has dealt with injuries.

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Junior stud Jonathan Drouin has been OK, but his one goal (10 assists, though) through 20 games and status as an occasional healthy-scratch show he’s not quite there yet.

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Although a wily 42-year-old has put his role in jeopardy, Jake Allen leads all rookie netminders in wins (eight) and shutouts (two).

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Centre Anders Lee finds himself playing helpful depth minutes on a red-hot team. The forward has seven points so far, and this week he dodged a suspension.

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Sure he has the benefit of playing alongside a dangerous play-maker like Jeff Carter, but Tanner Pearson has 10 goals, nine of them even-strength, despite seeing just over 13 minutes of ice per night.

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The Leafs’ surprise rookie, Stuart Percy, has found himself popping up and down from the AHL Marlies. The defenceman did set a club record by scoring a point in each of his first three NHL contests.

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Flush with young talent, the Flames roll out three of the top 15 rookie scorers: Johnny Gaudreau (second only to Forsberg with 21 points), Josh Jooris and Markus Granlund. All three forwards are seeing more than 15 minutes of ice a night, plus getting experience on the power play.

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Defenceman Matt Dumba — the seventh-overall pick in the 2012 draft — is easing into his role among a solid Wild defence core. Four points, minus-4, 12:29 ice time in 20 games.

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The Canucks were desperate for bottom-six scoring, and winger Linden Vey has done his part — chipping in with 13 points already.

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Mirco Mueller got off to a smooth start, but spent a stretch as a healthy scratch and is still looking to establish himself as a permanent fixture on the Sharks’ blueline.

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The chief reason for the Peter Budaj trade, 2014 playoff sensation Dustin Tokarski has only been granted six starts in a supporting role — but he’s earned the Habs standings points in four of them. And Jiri Sekac (10 points in 23 games) has been a great surprise.

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Eyebrows raised when the Jets decided to roll with a goaltending tandem of Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson this season, but both have impressed. Hutchinson leads all rookie netminders in goals-against average (1.67), save percentage (.941) and ranks second in wins (six).

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A pair of European rookie forwards — Austria’s Andre Burakovsky (13 points) and Russia’s Evgeny Kuznetsov (10 points) — are making tangible contributions to the Caps’ lineup.

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While the Rangers didn’t balk at lending 19-year-old Anthony Duclair to Team Canada for the worlds, their 22-year-old rookie, Kevin Hayes, appears more NHL-ready. The Boston kid has contributed 10 points seeing bottom-six minutes.

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Responding well from being a healthy scratch, the undrafted, undersized Seth Griffith can be seen scoring highlight-reel goals for a veteran club.

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Winger Mike Hoffman tops all Senators in plus/minus (+10), he stays out of the box (four penalty minutes), and he’s scored all 12 of his points (including two game-winners) at even strength. (Honourable mention: Matt Stone.)

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The Panthers are a minus-10 club, yet No. 1 draft pick Aaron Ekblad is a plus-6 and a beast on the league’s eighth-best defence. Third in freshman scoring with 18 points in 26 games. How many 18-year-old D-men can say they scored on Martin Brodeur?

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Defenceman Michael Chaput (who saw 17 games in the bigs last season) has been used in a bottom-four role. He has four assists and is still looking for his first NHL goal.

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Teenager Nikita Zadorov is logging nearly 18 minutes per game on a heavily taxed Sabres back end, yet he’s posted a plus-3 rating on a team that ranks dead last in goal differential (-37).

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John Klingberg is a blinding bright spot on a Dallas defence core that is getting beat up this season. (This week the Stars became the first team to surrender 100 goals.) Klingberg has a team-high plus-6 rating, nine points and fantastic possession stats.

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Defenceman Damon Severson easily leads all freshmen in time on ice (23:04) and shifts (30.2) per game. The 20-year-old workhorse has four multi-point games already and is doing his part to keep the Devils’ average age in check.

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Developing Philly forwards Scott Laughton (two assists) and Jason Akeson have been used sparingly on a squad in decline. Neither has lit the lamp.

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The regressing Avalanche replaced backup J.S. Giguere with rookie Calvin Pickard. Despite a 3-5-0 record, the 22-year-old from Moncton has a decent .929 save percentage.

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The league’s other Rask — 21-year-old Victor — has been a nice addition to the Hurricanes power play, scoring six of his 10 points with the man advantage.

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German winger Tobias Rieder has made his presence felt with four goals, three assists and a plus-six rating. The fourth-round pick (2011, Edmonton) has averaged more than 15 minutes of play in 18 games.

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In a perfect world, Leon Draisaitl would’ve been given more time to simmer in junior. Instead he’s learning the hard way in a hard dressing room to be in. The centre has seven points, but his minus-13 rating ranks second-worst among rookies.

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