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NHL Rookie Impacts Part 1 of 6

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll go team by team and look at the impact that rookies have had on their respective clubs after the quarter point in the season. Most teams have had multiple rookies who have made a large impact so far this season, some, like the Carolina Hurricanes, haven't had a rookie make any noise so far.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are a team in transition, from the Ryan Smyth days to the era where Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner are the backbone of the team. Cogliano, the team's first round pick in 2005, and Gagner, Edmonton's first rounder in 2007, are both playing important roles with the team. They have each played as the top line center, with Cogliano currently sitting third in league scoring by a rookie. Gagner's play has tailed off a bit after a hot start, but he has been very valuable in shootouts for the Oil.

Tom Gilbert is another Oiler rookie who has made a definite impact. He is contributing offensively and is proving to be an important part of the defensive corps in Edmonton with Sheldon Souray and Matt Greene injured.

Other rookies to suit up for the Oil this season have been Rob Schremp, Mathieu Roy, and Bryan Young. Schremp has been enigmatic since being drafted in the first round of the 2004 draft. He is playing well for Springfield of the AHL, but still needs to work on becoming more of a complete player. He appeared in two games for the Oil, going pointless with a -1. Mathieu Roy played in four game with the Oilers before separating his shoulder on a hit from Jordin Tootoo. Young appeared in a pair of games for the Oil, going pointless. He is back with Springfield.

Pittsburgh Penguins

After churning out some very high profile rookies recently with the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Staal, the Penguins are getting unexpected contributions from rookie Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy has appeard in ten games so far, scoring 2-2-4 in that span. He is also playing solid in all area of the game without the puck.

A more high profile rookie to suit up for the Pens this season has been defenseman Kris Letang. Letang is coming off of an impressive junior career, which was capped off by being the captain of the gold medal winning Team Canada at the World Juniors. He is an offensive defenseman, and as early as this season should develop into the number one power play quarterback for the Pens. He has one assist in five games so far this season.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins are a team that last season spent big money on free agents such as Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara, but still were at the bottom of the standings. Going into this season, the Bruins roster is relatively unchanged, but there have been six rookies to suit up for the Bruins so far this season. Three of those rookies, Matt Hunwick, Vladimir Subotka, and Matt Lashoff only played in a combined seven games with no points between them. Lashoff is a big part of the future B's blueline corps, he will add a much nedded offensive dimension to the back end.

The other three rookies to play in Boston this season are Petteri Nokelainen, Milan Lucic and David Krecji. Krecji started the season with Boston but is now in Providence of the AHL. He went scoreless in 12 games.

Nokelainen, a former first rounder who was acquired from the New York Islanders, has yet to score a point in ten games with the B's, but is making things happen offensively and is playing a solid overall games. Milan Lucic was injured this past week, but before that he was providing energy and toughness to the Bruins lineup and contributed a goal and an assist.

Detroit Red Wings

The Wings have seemingly always been known as an "old team". You don't often see many rookies in the lineup at any given time, and this season is no different. The only rookie to see action with Wings this season has been defenseman Derek Meech. He's scoreless in eight games with a -1.

Russian Igor Grigorenko was given the opportunity to make an impact as a rookie with the Wings, but he didn't make the team out of training camp, and after five games with Grand Rapids of the AHL, he returned home to Russia.

A rookie who could make an impact later this season could be defenseman Jakub Kindl. He was the Wings' first round pick in 2005. He's currently in his first season with Grand Rapids.

Tampa Bay Lightning

One of the biggest losses for the Lightning has resulted in one of the biggest surprises for the Bolts. When Dan Boyle went down to injury, the Lightning turned to rookie Mike Lundin to fill his shoes. While Lundin isn't putting up crazy point totals (four assists in 23 games) he has come out of nowhere to play top four minutes and is playing solid in his own end as well.

The only other rookie to play in Tampa this season has been defenseman Matt Smaby, a second round pick in 2003. He went scoreless in four games, and is now in Norfolk of the AHL. He remains one of the Lightning's top prospects however.

Other rookies who could see time in Tampa this season could be a pair of former first rounders. Defensemen Andy Rogers and Vladimir Mihalik. Both are currently with the Admirals in Norfolk.