clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NHL Rookie Impacts Part 2 of 6

New, comment
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.


St. Louis Blues

The Blues are starting to turn things around after a few seasons of being in the basement of the league. The one positive aspect of being a bad team, is the high draft choices that result. So far this season, three rookies have suited up for the Blues. Two are still with the team, and one was recently sent to Peoria of the AHL.

Erik Johnson is probably the most high profile rookie this season. Johnson was the first overall pick in the 2006 entry draft, and is joining the Blues after a year at the University of Minnesota. He is the total package of size, skills and skating, and is going to be a force on the back end for years to come. So far this season Johnson has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, but seems to be turning things around. He currently has 2-9-11 in 18 games played.

Another rookie blueliner, Steve Wagner, has also suited up for the Blues. Wagner came out of nowhere to make the St. Louis roster, and when the team was riddled with injuries, Wagner filled in admirably. He has offensive potential from the blueline, and is sound defensively. He was recently sent down to Peoria, with the return of some veterans from IR. He likely hasn't seen his last call up this season.

A bit of a surprise earlier this season, was rookie David Perron making the Blues out of training camp. Perron did the same thing with Lewiston of the QMJHL two seasons ago, coming out of nowhere to become an offensive force and a leader for the MAINEiacs. He can stick handle in a phone booth and his catalogue of moves is never ending. This past summer he was a part of Team Canada in the Canada-Russia Super Series and was one of Canada's top offensive threats. So far this season with the Blues, Perron has 6-5-11 in 19 games.


New York Islanders

The Isles are a team that have relied heavily on veterans this season. Only one rookie has suited up in Long Island so far this year, and that is center Ben Walter, who was acquired earlier this season from the Bruins for former first rounder Petteri Nokelainen. Walter had a brief four game stint going scoreless.

Some other rookies who could get the call up from Bridgeport later this season could be center Blake Comeau and winger Jeremy Colliton.


Calgary Flames

The Flames are another team that are relying heavily on veteran players this season. Coach Mike Keenan has a notorious reputation for having limited patience for rookies, but nonetheless three first year players have donned the flaming C this season.

Eric Nystrom, the Flames first rounder from 2002, has played in 24 games so far this season, going 1-3-4 in that span. He's known for his defensive and checking abilities, and likely won't ever put up more than 30-40 points. He's a very solid and safe bottom six forward.

Dustin Boyd is an offensive forward who has put up serious points at every level. He has been used sparingly this season, but i would expect his ice time to increase as the year progresses. He has scored 2-1-3 in 11 games.

Defenseman Tim Ramholt played in one game for the Flames, going scoreless. Long term, Ramholt will likely be a bottom pairing or depth defender for Calgary.


Colorado Avalanche

The Avs were spoiled by having excellent seasons from a pair of rookies last season- Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski. This season, two more rookies have appeared in the Colorado lineup.

Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey is an undersized blueliner who is steady and puts up average offensive from the back end. He's a former seventh round pick, and he has four assists in 22 games and is solidifying a spot in the defensive six for the Avs.

Recently called up forward TJ Hensick has a goal and an assist in eight games with Colorado. Before the call up, he was one of Lake Erie's top forwards. He might get a look in the top six with Joe Sakic currently out with injury.


Montreal Canadiens

The Habs have a good mix of youth and veteran players, with four rookies seeing time with Montreal so far this year.

Kyle Chipchura, a potential future captain of the Habs, has been a reliable shut down center. His game is more defensive than offensive, and he is a great checker. In 29 games, he has 3-5-8.

Mikhail Grabovsky, a very talented forward, was in and out of the lineup. He has great hands and a nose for the net. He bounced around the forward lines, not really carving out a spot for himself. Regardless, he is still a potential high scorer for the Habs down the road.

Defender Ryan O'Byrne, a huge blueliner who spent three years at Cornell, is a stay at home type who is sound positionally, and can keep opposing forwards honest. He has appeared in five games for Montreal tallying a pair of assists.

Sergei Kostitsyn, brother of current Hab Andrei Kostitsyn, was recently called up to the big club. Last season, Sergei was the third member on a line with Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane with London of the OHL. So far he has an assist in two games.