Mitch Goldenberg

In The Crease

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Red-Hot Rookies

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


Teemu Selanne may be nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career at age 42, but with nine points through eight games so far, his impact hasn’t fizzled with age.

Selanne has exceeded a point-per-game pace 14 times in the past 21 years, he’s won a Stanley Cup, appeared in 11 All Star games, won the Rocket Richard trophy and is the leading scorer in Winter Olympics history. Oddly enough, he hasn’t been able to eclipse his legendary rookie season in 1993, during which he scored 76 goals and added 56 assists for 132 points.

We can’t possibly expect another Selanne-esque rookie season from the crop of 2013, but through the first few games there are definitely a few talented newcomers showing signs of brilliance.

Cory Conacher

Tampa Bay’s 23-year old sharpshooter didn’t come out of nowhere. But the AHL’s MVP from 2011-12 (114 points in 75 games and a Calder Cup Championship) is surprising many with a red hot 12 points through his first eight games (five goals, seven assists). Conacher has found a home on the Lightning’s second line with playmakers Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell, is tied for ninth in NHL scoring with two game winners and is proving himself responsible defensively with a plus-seven rating.

Vladimir Tarasenko

What’s not to like about the Blues’ 21-year old Russian speedy sniper? He’s got points in seven of his first eight games and is top-20 in league scoring with 10 points overall. He’s doing it in Ken Hitchcock’s defensive minded system and appears safely settled on the Blues’ second line with Alex Steen and Andy McDonald. A point-per-game KHLer in each of the past two seasons, Tarasenko is showing no signs of struggle bringing his game to North America.

Nail Yakupov

Edmonton’s top pick of the 2012 draft was slightly overshadowed coming into the season with AHL scoring leader Justin Shultz joining the Oilers blueline for 2013. But Yakupov has certainly sprung off to an impressive start with points in seven of his first nine games, not to mention his timely goals and flare.  Currently slotted on the Oilers’ second line, the Russian sniper should continue to develop this season with his young team.

The Habs third-line Duo

Montreal’s new look third line features two rookies, last year’s third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk and 2010’s 147th overall pick Brendan Gallagher, and they’re off to pretty good starts. With 12 points combined (seven for Galchenyuk, five for Gallagher) through eight games, the two are lifting the Habs to a much improved start (tied for second in the East) and have injected some energetic blood into Marc Bergevin’s team.

Honorable Mention:

The Anaheim Ducks signed 30-year-old Swedish Elite League standout Viktor Fasth to backup Jonas Hiller last summer, but based on three straight wins to kick off his NHL career, they may have found something bigger. He’s allowed just four goals on 74 shots so far, while it took Cory Schneider just 14 shots to allow his first five goals of 2013! Fasth is too old to officially be considered a rookie, but with a .946 save percentage, 1.30 goals against average and fresh off a win over San Jose (their first regulation loss of the season), Fasth is making a name for himself in his first North American season. 






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