We’re not quite two months into the 2016-17 season, and we’ve already been treated to so many incredible rookie performances.
With so many young players entering the league this year, it got us thinking: Who is the NHL’s best rookie of all time?
There are too many contenders to count, from Bobby Orr in 1966 to last year’s short-but-so-sweet campaign from Connor McDavid.
So, although the debate could go on for days, we’ve narrowed it down to a list of five players we believe could be the best we’ve ever seen.
Rookie year: 2005-06
Crosby garnered just about as much attention as a rookie can muster up, and he lived up to the billing right away.
The highly-touted No. 1 pick from Cole Harbour registered 39 goals and 63 assists for 102 points in 81 games as a rookie, which ranked him sixth in league scoring. He also set new franchise records in both points and assists in a rookie season, eclipsing the previous record set by Mario Lemieux.
While Crosby wasn’t the first to tally 100 points in his first NHL campaign, he was the youngest to do so.
Despite his remarkable freshman success, it wasn’t quite enough to earn him Calder Trophy honours…
Rookie year: 2005-06
Although we had to wait a year to see No. 8 in action on NHL ice, it was totally worth it just to see him score twice in his NHL debut.
The great Sid vs. Ovi matchup has given hockey fans more than a decade of great head-to-head comparisons, and it all started in the same year due to the 2004-05 lockout, which should’ve been Ovechkin’s rookie season.
All told, Ovechkin scored 52 goals and added 54 assists, leading all rookies in points that year and ranking third overall in league scoring.
Rookie year: 1992-93
As far as goal scoring goes, no rookie has ever had as dominant a season as Selanne did. The Finnish Flash dazzled fans in Winnipeg with 76 goals in his rookie season — a record that still stands.
Selanne also holds the official record for most points by a rookie, with 132.
While Selanne was a memorable Calder Trophy winner in Winnipeg, he wasn’t the first — that honour belonged to Dale Hawerchuk, who took Winnipeg by storm in 1981-82 and became the first rookie to break the 100-point plateau.
Could the Jets have another Finnish Calder winner on their hands this year?
Rookie year: 1979-80
Is it possible to create a “best of” list without including The Great One?
We should note that technically, Gretzky wasn’t a true rookie as he first played pro in the WHA, thus making him ineligible to win the Calder Trophy.
However, his first year in the NHL was simply too good not to include on this list.
No. 99 had 51 goals and 86 assists for 137 points in 79 games upon first joining the NHL, grabbing hold of the league and never letting go.
Gretzky holds the unofficial record for most points in a player’s first NHL season (137), though Selanne officially holds the rookie record with 132.
Rookie year: 1984-85
Lemieux burst onto the scene with the Penguins, scoring on his first shot during his first shift in his first NHL game.
The Magnificent One ended his rookie campaign with 43 goals and 57 assists for an even 100 points.