For those tracking the bevy of youngsters who should have great seasons in the NHL this year, there are just as many potential first and second year players with less hype who may do very well.
Much will be expected of Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Jimmy Vesey, who we tabbed as young stars with something to prove.
In fact, McDavid is the candidate by which all other rookie and sophomore future stars are measured.
The salary cap era has certainly forced every team in the league and their management teams to give fuzzy-faced teenagers and early-20 somethings an early shot at the bigs. No longer are the days a team can bankroll itself to a title, while the kids languish and marinate on the farm.
A look up and down the charts gave us many options to include in a preview of just who among the freshman and sophomore classes might have the opportunity to shine, who weren’t included in our first piece.
Here are 17 under-the-radar players who might just give everyone a reason to smile.
That the Carolina Hurricanes finished 10 points out of a playoff spot in 2015-16 was eye-opening. Why? Because employed on their blue line were two rookies who played significant minutes. Defence at the highest level is the hardest position to play and to learn on the job. Jaccob Slavin, selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, apprenticed for 14 games in the AHL before getting the call. In 63 games, the Colorado College alumnus averaged 20:59 in ice time, while collecting two goals and 18 assists. On a team full of minus players, he was a tidy +1. Noah Hanifin’s gilded path to the NHL began with being the 5th overall pick in the 2015 entry draft. He spent no time in the minors, jumping onto the Hurricanes’ roster immediately. He recorded four goals, 18 assists and a -14 in just under 18 minutes per game. Expect both these defensive studs to elevate their games this season.