Hockey

Ones To Watch: Rookies

Ones To Watch: Rookies

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Young players are so much more ready to be thrown in at the deep end than they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Due to their early development, whether it is in terms of skills or physical development 16/17/18 year olds are ready for the big time.

Ray Shero, the general manager at the New Jersey Devils, said “These kids are so far ahead of where they were, and that’s why they’re able to play at 18 or 19 years old. People say it’s because of the NHL salary cap that forces teams to use younger players today, but really, if you’re good, you’re good”.

Having good, young talent capable of stepping onto the ice of any NHL franchise and making an immediate impact is no longer out of the ordinary.

However, there may not be a player with the calibre of Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres) and Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets), or Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs), there still is plenty of talent across the board and some worth keeping an eye on.

Here are some of the best rookies of 2017 to keep an eye out for:

Alex DeBrincat, Right Wing for the Chicago Blackhawks

The 19-year-old Michigan native led the Traverse City Prospects Tournament with five goals from 17 shots on goal, and scored twice in a 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the championship game.

DeBrincat looks set for the next chapter of his career after exceeding 100 points in each of his three seasons with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had 332 points (167 goals, 165 assists) in 191 games, a quite phenomenal record.

This young man looks ready for a seamless transition from the rookie leagues to the big time.

Joel Eriksson Ek, Centre/Left Wing for the Minnesota Wild

Eriksson Ek should become Minnesota’s third-line centre after Erik Haula was snapped up by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft. Eriksson Ek has sharp vision and an excellent shot; he had seven points (three goals, four assists) in 15 games for the Wild last season.

The 20-year-old led the lines and stats with four points (two goals, two assists) in four games for Traverse City. This versatile midfielder has so much potential and has serious potential for Minnesota this season.

Nico Hischier, Centre for the New Jersey Devils

Hischier recently impressed at the highly coveted Prospects Challenge in Buffalo with his speed and intelligence on the ice.

The 18-year-old Switzerland native is very aware of his defensive-zone responsibilities and is likely to begin the season as the Devils’ first- or second-line centre. Hischier, chosen No. 1 in the 2017 NHL Draft, should generate plenty of scoring opportunities if given the chance to play on the top line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.

The New Jersey Devils have a real prospect on their hands and if managed correctly the young Swiss man can develop into an all-time great.

Joshua Ho-Sang, Right Wing, New York Islanders

The Canadian Ho-Sang scored 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 50 games for Bridgeport (AHL) before contributing 10 points (four goals, six assists) last season.

A solid skater and all-round playmaker, Ho-Sang, 21, can play all three forward positions but most likely will begin this season at right wing alongside Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd. He might see time on the power play with John Tavares and Jordan Eberle.

Due to his furious pace and great technique his skills might be best used in any given power play situation.   

Charlie McAvoy, Defence for the Boston Bruins

Called into NHL action to help stop the Bruins’ six-game losing streak to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference First Round last season, the 19-year-old defender impressed with three assists, 12 hits and nine blocked shots with captain Zdeno Chara.

McAvoy (6-0, 208), who is a smart techincial player with terrific vision and a good shot, played two seasons at Boston University before signing his entry-level contract April 10. The Long Beach, New York native is a real up and coming star.

His finesse and character has traits of a man years beyond his age, therefore the Boston Bruins have a man with winners attitude which will pay dividends in the future.

 

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I’m a 22-year-old Irishman from County Mayo. Recently graduated from the University of Limerick with a degree in Marketing and French. Massive sports fan with a love for Football, Rugby and GAA.

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