It is always hard to project rookie success. The talents that are on display while these players are scouted are typically against younger players. The physical gifts can make the transition to the next level, but the step to the NHL is the biggest and most difficult.
As these young men ascend into the highest level of hockey they are being asked to transition from teenagers into adults. The rigors of playing longer seasons against tougher, seasoned competition can take its toll on veterans. For young spark plugs that are years from growing a mustache, it can be overwhelming.
The 2013 rookie crop seems to have taken all of the perils in stride and excelled. There are some names on our list of rookies who shouldn’t surprise you, then there are some who have caught even their own teammates off guard.
The question now is whether or not these guys can maintain the pace that they have set for themselves early in this shortened season. An abbreviated season could benefit the youngsters as they assimilate themselves into the NHL. Here’s a look at who is making the most noise in their rookie year.
5. Nail Yakupov, Edmonton
The number one draft pick has shown a flair for the dramatic with five goals and an assist through eight games. He had a last second game-tying goal against Los Angeles and an overtime winner at Phoenix.
4. Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal
The second overall pick behind Yakupov has been a nice surprise in Montreal working his way up to the Canadiens’ second line. In eight games Galchenyuk has a goal and six assists.
3. Justin Schultz, Edmonton
The coveted free agent defenseman has stepped right in to a top-four pairing for the Oilers. Through the first eight games, Schultz has added two goals and three assists.
2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis
The rookie right wing took the league by storm and has kept up the pace with five goals and five assists in St. Louis’ first eight games.
1. Cory Conacher, Tampa Bay
The biggest surprise among rookies has been the Tampa Bay center/left wing. He just recently took over the top of the rookie-scoring table with five goals and seven assists in eight games.