Back in October I highlighted three players, all aging, all right wings, all stand up guys as players to watch. Of the three, two are still playing. Jarome Iginla, perhaps the best known of the three has been deprived of the post season again.

If Daniel Alfredsson plays his last game in the NHL in game seven of his Ottawa Senators series with eastern conference champions the New York Rangers, he’ll have to say it was a pretty good year. Not many picked the team to even make the playoffs. The Senators not only made the playoffs, they menaced the defending, and mostly intact, Stanley Cup champions throughout the year for the division lead.

At thirty and a lot the Senators Captain put up his best goal total since the 2007-2008 season. He was selected as All Star captain. In that All Star weekend he got to play with a number of his regular season teammates, countrymen Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and do so in his own barn. If he and his squad can clinch a second round berth there’s no reason he can’t hit the fifty post season goal total he stands just four away from. For that matter the eleven points to get him to one hundred career post season points isn’t out of reach,

When the original Winnipeg Jets uprooted and absconded to the infernal regions of the desert southwest they took with them a future icon. It’s doubtful many people tabbed the then sophomore Shane Doan to be the teams captain in years to come. It’s also doubtful that even the harshest critics of sunbelt expansion expected there to be anywhere near the angst, drama, confusion and financial turmoil that would haunt the team seemingly from day one.

Through ownership problems that span a decade (and counting) one thing has remained constant for the desert dogs and their fans. Shane Doan. Captain, consistently the hardest working man on the team and a leader in all ways. No one has been more dedicated to the Phoenix Coyotes or their fans. Free agents didn’t sign there because of the drama that contributes to historical low attendance, some players even refused to sign there after being drafted. Year after year when speculation turned to someone wanting to bring the Halkirk native to another city he quietly demurred and went back to community work between workouts and games.

Today, one of these three captains is assured of seeing the second round for the first time in his career. One of these icons has to win one more to join them, The third is likely weighing if he stays in the only city he’s ever known another year with a team that has more questions than answers.

Tim Thomas has had an interesting season. He opened the season playing behind a team with five players who were showing up skating in front of him. He played well through that. In October he had a less than modest .929 sv%, and then he got better. In November and December his numbers were off the charts, even by his standards. Since he was part of the backslide that will end up costing the team the nearly meaningless President’s Trophy. Faced criticism for how he chose to spend a day off, and had his popularity on Facebook go from modest to major. He’ll probably eclipse 20,000 likes before the playoffs start.

While whispers have floated that he would retire at the end of the season have surfaced, I’m not entirely certain I believe them. Looking at his last three or four games played he looks to be back to something like the form he was in last season. While it’s hard to imagine him simply seeking more material for his hagiography,  it is worth noting that he is six wins from his 200th career regular season win. He’d have to play and win all six of the remaining regular season games to do that. With Marty Turco having played well on the west coast there may not be a need for that. Given how many games he’s already played this season it might even be counter productive.

As of today he sits 4th all time in wins for the Boston Bruins, not a bad accomplishment for a perennially discarded goalie derided as a flopper right up until he won his first Vezina. With 37 wins he would leapfrog the legendary Gerry Cheevers and Frank Brimsek to take sole possession of second all time in wins for the oldest American franchise in the NHL. If healthy there is no reason he couldn’t do that before the end of next season. His best season to date was 36 wins in 54 games. Should he be extended beyond the one season remaining on his contract, the all time wins lead is 59 games away. If he goes through next season as the number one goaltender, and hits the 37 between now and the end of next season needed to move into #2 all time, even taking a fifty fifty split of games the following season that all time wins total would only be 21 wins away.

Going forward the rest of the season, and post season it is unlikely he plays more than four of the remaining six even with only one back to back. Tuukka Rask has yet to resume skating, and even the lower end of the 4-6 week range puts him as back April 5th, the date of the second to last Bruins game of the season. With Turco unable to play in the post season, it will be up to Thomas, and possibly Khudobin and Hutchinson. It would be dismaying to see either of the latter two in a game, barring the ridiculous it’s unlikely even Rask plays this post season. Tim Thomas fearless rider of Boston cabs, will one way or another be among the most talked about players from April 11th until at least the draft.

This is the fourth installment of the dive for the first overall pick. Earlier editions can be found at three, two and one.

Ain’t no dive like a Montreal dive

’cause a Montreal dive don’t stop

The Montreal Canadiens were perhaps the most successful divers around the deadline. They kicked the party off weeks early by dropping Mike Cammalleri (@MCammalleri13) for Rene Bourque (@RBourque17). The first has had seasons of 39 and 34 goals as well as being a point per game player in the playoffs over 32 games. Rene Bourque has never topped 27 goals, and his playoff performance is something like one half the quality of his regular season norm over his career. Next out the door was locker room leader, Stanley Cup champion, shutdown defensive defenseman Hal Gill. He too was shipped out in advance of the deadline. Last was a blow to local nightclubs as Andrei Kostitsyn, In both the Gill and Kostitsyn trades the Habs didn’t take back a single NHL player. They did however go with one of their traditional “heritage picks” by grabbing Blake Geoffrion, who wasn’t offensively gifted enough to stay in the Predators lineup.

In a bid to avoid having any sort of quality depth Scott Howson General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets set the asking price for Rick Nash at roughly a Dr Evil like figure. Apparently neither Glen Sather or Pierre Gauthier had working phones the last two weeks. He did also add a defenseman who according to fans of his first team was utterly useless, and lose a former first round pick in the fabled 2003 draft. In order to make sure accountability didn’t creep into the team mentality they gave the aging Vaclav Prospal a hefty raise for turning in a -17 and 8.3% shooting accuracy.  They carefully avoided trading for any quality players in the future as well. As compensation for moving Pahlsson, Smithson, and Vermette they picked up two fourth round picks, a 2nd round pick, a fifth round pick, and UFA journeyman goalie Curtis McElhinney. I’m reasonably certain the entire central division and likely the whole league was put on notice by these shrewd moves.

The Edmonton Oilers are smack dab in the middle of the fourth five year plan to rebuild. In mid February they traded guys none of the beat writers could pick out in a broom closet with the Anaheim Ducks. On deadline day they swapped blueliners with the Minnesota Wild. The trade was greeted with a heaping helping of meh with a generous side of wtf by fans and observers. The team is in danger of not having the most balls in the lottery machine for the first time a while if they don’t somehow find a way to get 11 less points than Columbus the rest of the season. Unfortunately for their quest it appears Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be playing a couple more games as he’s patently refused to stay out of a lineup he lacked the muscle to stay in and stay healthy having recovered from two shoulder injuries already.

The tailgating fans in Raleigh have had little to celebrate this season. Sadly the brain trust of the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t even raise their hopes on deadline day. None of that reason to celebrate came in the days leading up to the deadline. Nor did they happen on the deadline itself. While shedding Alexi Ponikarovsky for  a minor league defenseman and a fourth round pick probably seemed like a great way to make sure the Devils didn’t make the playoffs either, it hasn’t worked out that way. As the deadline drew nearer and nearer Jim Rutherford locked up more and more of the players who have helped the team to a tie for 27th place in the NHL. Showing all the savvy that saw him sign Kaberle to a bloated deal he handed out a number of surprising contracts. Showing none of the savvy that saw him trade Kaberle he didn’t trade any of his players for picks while telling them it was for the good of the team and that things might change in the future.

The good news for New York Islanders fans this season is that people now with an All Star appearance behind him know who John Taveres is. The bad news is pretty much everything else. Rick Dipietro is still healthy as a middle ages town in the grip of the black plague, his contract still expires roughly two years past forever. There is no deal for an arena, and on deadline day they biggest asset they picked up is Marc Cantin. None of the unsigned players like Parenteau or Nabokov who they probably want to keep were locked up, and none of the aging stiffs were shuffled off free tattoo gift certificates or second round picks.

Given the quality of the teams its likely that Yakupov or whoever might go first overall if someone has a stroke on their way to the podium will toil in obscurity for several years possibly as the only player keeping the franchise afloat. Eventually he’ll either leave as a free agent or get sold up the river to another franchise desperate for success but with little else to build with.  Hopefully for his sake he’ll be able to justify the hundred thousand year contract someone will try signing him to.

Last time we checked in on the Carolina Hurricanes captain he was a very mediocre 11-25-36. As one of the highest plaid players in  the NHL, that’s not what the team or his fans are expecting of him. Since then he’s had 6 games with a 5-3-8 line. He’s also rocketed from a league worst -23 to a staggering -18 that has him 6th from the bottom of the entire NHL.

What looked like a run away scoring winner among rookies in November and December has tightened up considerably. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has suffered two shoulder injuries from legal hits, and Adam Henrique has had a couple issues keep him out of games as well. The two injuries to Nugent-Hopkins give a lot of credence to the early and preseason arguments that perhaps another year in juniors putting on some muscle might be in his best interest. With or without him the Oilers are a lottery team, and now if that shoulder fails to heal it could have repercussions that span his entire career. One wonders if the close scoring race among the forwards will lend itself to a defensemen or goalie picking up the award in Vegas.

Forwards:

  • Adam Henrique has wrested the scoring lead away from Nugent-Hopkins. In piling up the lead 19% of his points on the season have come shorthanded, 65% have come at even strength leaving the balance on the powerplay. He’s also got 30 takeaways to just 17 giveaways on the year.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over 51% of his points have come on the powerplay this season. Despite all the time missed with injuries, he’s still on pace to break twenty goals on the year. While neither his home nor road number crosses 40%, it is interesting to note that his road faceoff percentage is higher than home.
  • Matt Read, the Philadelphia Flyers were probably expecting their other rookie forward to be at or near the top of the Calder discussion. But the small and undrafted Read has climbed the scoring ranks all season with other players out of the lineup. Like Henrique he gets a lot of short handed time, and a good amount of his points a man down.

Goalies:

 

  • Thomas Greiss of the San Jose Sharks has eight of his 12 games played, a .926sv% and 2.06GAA.
  • Jhonas Enroth of the Sabres has been on the crazy train with the rest of the team 8-9-3 in 23 appearances.
  • Richard Bachman has piled up a record of 6-3-1 .912sv% GAA 2.72.

Defensemen:

  • Jake Gardinier of the Leafs leads all rookie blueliners in points. 21:07 TOI/G
  • Raphael Diaz has climbed into second with 16 points, and has 91 blocked shots for the Montreal Canadiens.
  • Jared Cowen has 155 hits, 63 blocked shots 14 points and is loggging almost twenty minutes a night for the Senators while fourth in scoring for rookie defensemen.
  • Adam Larsson’s injury has allowed other defenders to catch up to him in scoring, but few are close to his 21:48.
  • Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes leads all the newbie defenders in average time on ice with 23:38. His 74 hits, 54 blocks and 24 takeaways to just 13 giveaways show he’s earning that time too.

Eric Staal has a current stat line of 11-25-36 with a league worst -23, his next nearest teammate Char Larose is a mere -16, probably not what ownership hoped to invest its money in for the season.

Forwards:

  • Even with time off due to injury, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins still leads NHL rookies in scoring. The Oilers will probably consider keeping him around a couple more seasons.
  • Just one point behind “The Nuge” is Quebec Nordiques New Jersey Devils stud Adam Henrique who has to play the oppositions top defensive players on a nightly basis. what’s more interesting is that he plays two minutes less powerplay time and unlike Nugent-Hopkins Henrique plays over two minutes a night shorthanded where he’s picked up seven of his points.
  • Matt Read has burst to the top of the rookie scoring race int he last two or three weeks. The Flyers are quite grateful for this given how the injury bug seems to have taken up residence in their locker room. Over five minutes of any given night of special teams time are coming his way. Currently leads all rookies in goals with 15 through 45 games.

Defensemen:

  • Raphael Diaz is still tied atop the rookie defensemens scoring race, with a slightly better plus/minus on a notably worse team than Larsson. 3-12-15 -1 30 Hits 84 Blocks 10 Takeaways
  • Jared Cowen is a monster on the blueline, the Senators moving tower is one point behind the Habs Diaz and the Devils Larsson in points while playing three and a half minutes of shorthanded time a nite.  133 hits 59 blocks and 20 takeaways make it unlikely the other teams fails to notice he’s on the ice even if you could miss a 230lb 6 ft 5 inch defenseman sporting the Canadian capital teams logo.
  • Adam Larsson has led or shared the lead in scoring the whole season and there is a lot to be said for consistency, especially on a team that took quite some time to wind up this season. 64 hits 51 blocks and 9 takeaways. leading all rookie defensemen in average time on ice.

Goalie:

  • This week the San Jose Sharks put Antero Nittamaki on waivers, that should say something about how confident they are in Thomas Greiss. Confidence in the rookie goalie with the best GAA 1.98 and best Sv% .927 among rookies with 10 or more starts isn’t terribly shocking.
  • Richard Bachman also ousted a more senior backup for the second slot on a western team The Dallas Stars relegated Andrew Raycroft to the AHL in favor of Bachmans 6-2-1 record with a 2.50 GAA and .917 Sv%.
  • Despite transportation issues Jhonas Enroth has not so quietly been the better goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres this season. His Sv% at .919 is significantly higher than former Vezina winner Ryan Millers as is his GAA at 2.59, he’s got an 8-9-3 record giving him almost half the teams wins with slightly more than a third the losses.

Honorable mentions:

Justin Faulk: Carolina Hurricanes

Craig Smith: Nashville Predators

Carl Hagelin: New York Rangers

Gabriel Landeskog: Colorado Avalanche

Jake Gardinier: Toronto Maple Leafs

Alexei Emelin: Montreal Canadiens

One can always count on the run up to the trade deadline to ratchet the cranks spewing rumors into high gear. Some of the teams who will no doubt be sitting squarely atop the sprockets and wearing down the tonfas* of the mills as we get ever closer to deadline day. Who’s at the bottom of the stack hasn’t changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks, but the teams that should be humongous big sellers in the middle, will probably end up buyers.

The Columbus Blue Jackets brought in talent by free agency over the summer. They brought in talent via trade as well. What they didn’t bring in was anything vaguely like depth. When you are spending close to the cap and getting less than teams in your division you are outspending by an eight digit figure. While media pressure, and tradition and the hope of hype will say “draft Yakupov”, I have different advice: trade the pick and the middle or bottom of the roster for a stud defenseman and a good goalie. Shocking as it is to hear, goaltending is believed by some to be critical to winning. Also of note, of the last four Stanley Cup Champions three had a Norris winner on the roster. Just a thought.

The Edmonton Oilers: See all those things I said about defense? Yeah that. It applies to you too. Also, drafting guys with a history of frequent injuries might be something to consider skipping this year.

The Montreal Canadiens are to be sellers if you ask RDS scribe Mario Tremblay. Two of the players on his list of sellable bits just don’t make any sense from the perspective of work ethic and ability. Why someone would trade Lars Ellers who will undoubtedly wear the nickname “Danish Dynamo” when he’s an RFA this summer is beyond me. On the other hand the number of things that make zero sense in Habsland this season exceed the number that are perfectly sensible by an order of magnitude. Brian Gionta has certainly underperformed this year, but its a touch difficult to excel when you’ve got an average AHL team skating around with you. Possibly Gionta asked out? Who knows.

The Hurricanes kicked off the sell off with an early assault on competitiveness by jettisoning the admittedly underwhelming Ponikarovski to New Jersey for not a great deal. Speculation has Ruutu or Gleason (why not both?) being shipped north. Among the other potential destinations for No-Not-Jarkko-I’m-Tuomo Ruutu are the defending Stanley Cup champions. One wonders if Nathan Horton would get as much of a workout out of ragdolling whatever defeneman replaced Gleason in games between the two clubs.

The Buffalo Sabres who’s owner has already given them a pass on the season have bounced off the Hurricanes at the bottom of the east and are above them on the strength of having played two less games. Injuries have been a serious problem yes, but there’s some intangible missing on this team that begs for an overhaul nonetheless. Some would call it competitiveness. Having iced 30 skaters and 3 goalies across the course of the season they at least know what the their system holds. Robyn Regehr might be an attractive trade piece to move out the door even with singularly uninspiring offensive season thus far. Assuming someone thinks they can goose him hard enough to get him looking like a 40 goal scorer again, Brad Boyes is pending UFA and probably not on Lindy Ruff’s top three list of UFA’s to bring back.

If Koivu and Selanne were to ask for trades before the deadline, the return on the two of them would help the Ducks for years to come. Yes, trading the first and fifth leading scorers and second and first in plus-minus will probably make the post trade season look a lot like all of the year up to January when the Occasional-Big-Three remembered they were payed at a passable level to produce wings. That said, having a second line center or legitimate impact defenseman not named Visnovsky or Beauchemin for a couple seasons to come could make early trips to the draft podium a smidgin less likely.

The Flames should be selling, they will probably be buying but I don’t think they can buy enough: 1) A #1 Center, 2) Another solid winger to make any dent in the playoffs. They do still have to make it in, and do have more regulation wins than the three teams ahead of them but it will still be tough to make it in.

Tampa Bay needs a goalie, which I’m sure is the biggest bombshell dropped on the hockey world this year, but it still needs saying.  Adding a defensive defenseman wouldn’t exactly kill the team either.

The Wild should try to be both buyers and sellers. Even more so than Buffalo injuries have rained on the parade of what looked to be the Cindarella team of the season. Swapping out a few of their spare defensemen for some scoring talent, particularly of the long term variety could make them a perennial contender. Having skated 10 defensemen among their 36 total players to take the ice this year it is a little hard to imagine them not having a handle on who is capable of what. Harding is also a UFA to be and teams wanting to evaluate him in their system and get a jump on negotiations with him might pay a premium to do so.

Figuring out what the Islanders should do is tough, (insert your joke here) they have a lot of pending UFA’s, and several promising prospects playing in juniors. Shipping a few of the elders out will bring some return, but what worth from a team that might not be in the lottery for the first time in years is anyones guess. For the future they have between 12 and 20 games covered in net by Dipietro’s cameos, and Poulin might just make it. Overall between the roster and the system they have 15 pending UFA’s including both Montoya and Nabokov in net.

*Thank you Harry Dresden. Parts 1 and Parts 2

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down checked with an injury, it’s time to look at some of the top rookies again. No doubt he’ll come back and be the only rookie the media and most blogs mention.

Eric Staal currently boasts a stat line of 9-16-25 -23 through 41 games played. The good news for him is that’s he’s just two goals and four assists short of matching his own rookie season. The bad news is well, everything else. Since December tenth he’s added two goals, four assists and dropped down another -5.

Goalies:

  • Richard Bachman has leaped onto the scene. When Lehtonen went out with an injury, and Raycroft simply fell down on the job the Dallas Stars called on Salt Lake City’s Bachman to stand and deliver. He’s now gotten into nine games with a 5-2-0 line, one shutout, .912sv% and 2.76 gaa.
  • Jhonas Enroth of the Buffalo Sabres has struggled lately (as has the team) with his last win coming back on November 26th. Still his numbers are solid on the season with a .921sv% and 2.49 gaa in 16 starts. Likely the only rookie netminder who will cross twenty five games.
  • Jakob Markstrom of the Florida Panthers appears to play a bit better in the NHL than the AHL, and has been recalled. In six games in the big show so far he’s got a five starts and is 2-3-0. His .928sv% is tops among rookie goalies with five or more games and is better than either Theodore or Clemmensen for the Panthers, his 2.59 gaa is about one fifth of a goal better than his AHL number.

Forwards:

  • Adam Henrique of New Jersey Devils and Windsor Spitfires fame is behind only Nugent-Hopkins in rookie scoring and is tied for the lead in game winning goals for rookies with 3. Currently he’s playing 18:23 a night leading all rookie forwards in TOI/G.
  • Matt Read is one of the other guys tied for game winning goal leads. The Flyers prodigy is also the only rookie forward who has scored both a shorthanded goal and on the powerplay. Is one of just six rookie forwards playing more than two minutes shorthanded per game.
  • Craig Smith of the Nashville Predators leads all rookie forwards in powerplay goals and is third in scoring.
  • Gabriel Landeskog is the only rookie forward who has recorded more than 100 hits, he’s seventh for rookie scoring and second for average TOI/G with respectable numbers for both powerplay and penalty kill minutes.

Defensemen:

  • Rapheal Diaz of the Montreal Canadiens (Now In English!) is quietly putting together a very respectable season in chaos central. at 2-11-13 he’s tied for the scoring lead for rookie defensemen, just three points behind the scoring leader on the blueline in Montreal. The -2 he sports is in comparison to the teams -10 goal differential. His 72 blocked shots leads all rookie defensemen.
  • Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils has been one of the few constants of this NHL season. Huge minutes, very important to the team and leading rookie defenders in scoring.  He’s also tops in TOI and eats up over two minutes a night of powerplay time.
  • Jared Cowen is probably the most complete rookie defenseman. The Senators blueliner is 3rd in scoring, 2nd in total ice time, 2nd in hits (with more than twice as many as Larsson who is 3rd) is 1st in shorthanded time on ice by more than a little, and is behind only Spezza and Karlsson in TOI for the Senators.

Others to watch:

Defensemen: Slava Voynov, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Jake Gardiner

Forwards: Cody Hodgson, Luke Adam

Goalie: Matt Hackett, Mike Murphy, Leland Irving

 

 

The NHL season wouldn’t be the same without rumors of one or more major talents being shuffled across the map. A lot of the speculation has centered on one Jarome Iginla the last three or four years. They chaos that has been the front office of the team for much of the last decade has virtually sealed the deal on him winning a Stanley Cup with Flames. Certainly it is hard to imagine him doing it before his current contract is over, and possibly ever. He’s still playing smart, tough, effective hockey as he closes in on his 35th birthday it is hard to imagine him being the cornerstone of a cup win three or four years from now.

Among the concerns for Iginla about leaving the only city he’s ever played in is how much it will damage his legacy. I’m not convinced that is as valid a concern as it might once have been so long as he doesn’t go to Edmonton or perhaps Vancouver. If the team plays it right, and gets a solid return on him, and he’s willing to go back after his current contract there’s no reason he can’t still win a cup there with some better complimentary players, if the front office can do their jobs right.

The perfect team to me for Iginla to land on before the deadline is; The Minnesota Wild. They have a real lack of scoring that will not get them far in the playoffs. They have a solid prospect pool. They are reasonably close to Iginla who is loathe to leave his family.  St Paul isn’t exactly next door, but it is far closer than going to one of the New York Area teams, Boston or even to the Panthers. The Wild have almost eight million in cap space this year. Also to be considered is the reputation of the Wild for smart defense, but not having the ponies to flourish offensively. Adding Iginla to a lineup with Heatley and Setogouchi gives the team the ability to easily roll two lines in the top ten in the NHL for quality.

Then too there is the question of attitude. Jarome Iginla may be better known for his goal scoring than his punch throwing but I defy any informed NHL observer to apply the word “soft” to any part of Ignila or his game aside from his hands. Those hands have turned to pummeling opponents on no few occasions. More importantly no one pushes him around. The same can’t be said for the Wild. I’m not sure one could get away with the Marchand on Sedin speed bagging witnessed in the playoffs, but no one has gets the cold shivers at the thought of an infuriated Wild roster. I’m not even sure anyone has seen this current roster infuriated.

For the Wild, adding toughness and skill in one package can’t be dismissed out of hand. To do so with a guy who is undeniably hungry would be huge. They’ve already had a very good opportunity to review much of their farm system at the NHL level thanks to a rash of injuries. Regardless of who or what they trade to Calgary in exchange for Iginla with realignment looming those players will only have two chances a season to come back to haunt the team.

For Calgary the value of a year or two landing in the lottery and drafting quality picks in the first and second rounds to build for the future can’t be understated. It doesn’t matter where Iginla goes if he does get traded, the Flames have to have a plan for winning without him. A return that brought back Coyle or Granland and picks would kickstart the rebuild faster than almost anything. Coyle is arguably NHL ready now, a draft pick that turned into a first line center would be enormous.

Realistically, if all parties do things well this is a situation where everyone can have their cake and eat it too.

With both Thanksgivings behind us, and the holidays, and world juniors coming up, it’s time to take a look at the most exciting rookies again. Eric Staal is this years measuring stick.

Eric Staal:

  • -18, down from last look.
  • 7-12-19
  • averages 21:20 TOI

Rookie Goalies:

  • Jhonas Enroth of the Buffalo Sabres 8 wins in 14 starts, just under 880 minutes played, .925 sv% 2.32 GAA
  • Thomas Greiss of the San Jose Sharks 4 wins in 7 starts, about 482 minutes .918 sv% 2.37GAA

Defensemen:

  • Marc-Andre Gragnani of the Buffalo Sabres is 2nd in scoring for rookie defensemen, has a +11 on a team whose total goal differential is +3
  • Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes, while playing in just 15 games has not only a positive takeaway to giveaway ratio, but it’s 2 to 1. 10th overall in scoring, 2nd in TOI, solid hit and blocked numbers.
  • Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils 22:27 of TOI leading all rookies, 1st in rookie defensemen for scoring.
  • Jared Cowen of the Ottawa Senators, steadily rising ice time has him at 18 73 hits 31 blocked shots, doesn’t turn the puck over much or 7th in scoring rookie defenseman, leads all rookie defensemen in SHTOI,

Forwards:

  • Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils, late to party but making up for it. 3rd in rookie scoring, tops in average ice time with 18 minutes 6-14-20, only rookie to take more than 300 faceoffs so far, playing in all situations.
  • Craig Smith, Nashville Predators, playing in a very defensive system he’s still #2 in rookie scoring despite much less ice time than RNH, even giveaway to takeaway ratio.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers lots of ice time, leads rookies in scoring, tied for 5th in NHL in scoring.

Others to watch: Gabriel Landeskog, Luke Adam, Matt Read, Jake Gardiner, Matt Hackett