If Gabriel Landeskog gets the right linemates, he’s a Calder candidate.
The 2011-12 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit continues today as we near the home stretch.
Could we be close to the end? When you come right down to it, the rookies are what Fantasy hockey GMs use to start to build their framework, especially in keeper leagues.
The reality is we do want to get down to business here. There is a process, so let’s go hunt down some rookies for this list. It should be fun. While you ponder where to draft Sidney Crosby given the uncertainty of his return date, let’s take a look at the top 10 rookies.
1. Zac Dalpe, C, Carolina Hurricanes: Simply look out if this kid gets started early. That will be key as Dalpe will be given every chance similar to last season’s breakout for Carolina, Jeff Skinner. Dalpe produced 57 points in 61 games for AHL affiliate Charlotte last season and there is no reason why he won’t crack the big club this season. Some say he may lack the ability to concentrate defensively, but offensively he has unquestioned ability. How Dalpe expends energy in the next level could be key if he truly fulfills his sleeper potential.
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Colorado Avalanche: This does not sound like much of a risk, but with Colorado, you never know. If Landeskog is paired with Paul Stastny and David Jones, then expect the unexpected. The Avalanche is a team of potential along with potential contradictions and conflicts. If his linemates stay healthy, Landeskog can not only create his own offense but thrive with the others. That potential alone makes him a worthwhile sleeper and Calder candidate.
3. Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey Devils: What you need to know is that Larsson will have some rough patches, but the defenceman was taken fourth overall this year for a reason. That reason is he is good. If you watched the two preseason games that he has skated in, one would immediately understand why. The pace is not quite NHL level, but Larsson’s poise and ingenuity almost make it too easy for him out there. While he may not put up 50 points just yet, that shot and passing ability will serve him very well from the blueline this season.
4. Brayden Schenn, C, Philadelphia Flyers: The trade to Philadelphia may have been the best thing to ever happen to a talent like Schenn, who had no prayer in Los Angeles. The player many consider the best not in the NHL last season will likely centre the second line which will mean plenty of scoring opportunities. Some consider him a Calder Trophy favourite, and while we don’t think he’s a shoo-in, we acknowledge he will be up there. Certain things have to break right for Schenn to take home that top prize.
5. Jonathon Blum, D, Nashville Predators: Blum did not look like a rookie at all last season and could really break out for the Preds this season as a potentially better alternative than even Ryan Suter in time. The possibility is there for 35-to-40 points or maybe more for this talented defenceman as his upside will only get higher and higher. Discipline will be key in his first full season in the NHL.
6. Jon Huberdeau, LW/C, Florida Panthers: Huberdeau will likely get ample chances to make an impact because Florida really has nothing to lose. What is the harm, right? Exactly. Florida does not have much in the way of top line talent, but Stephen Weiss and David Booth are not too shabby. With some blueline mentorship from the likes of Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski, Huberdeau should be in some pretty good hands. Expect the youngster to have a much better second half than first half.
7. Ryan Johansen, C, Columbus Blue Jackets: Johansen has a considerable shot if the top six sputters and he impresses enough. He will get a boost from Jeff Carter’s arrival and the simple fact that he will not have too much pressure, too soon. Johansen is another one of those guys who will have a more productive second half because of what he learns in the first half.
8. Blake Geoffrion, C, Nashville Predators: Geoffrion has the pedigree, but more importantly he plays with grit on the ice and shows humility off of it. He may not win the Calder more than likely, but Geoffrion will give Nashville fans reason to believe that there is some realistic offensive spark in that town.
9. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers: There is a part of me that thinks it would be best for Nugent-Hopkins to go back to Red Deer (WHL), but the Oilers may try to keep him up. He does have the talent to play in the NHL, but can he handle the pace? That is an answer that Nugent-Hopkins may not have just yet.
10. Mark Dekanich, G, Columbus Blue Jackets: Honestly, Steve Mason is not that good. He is not awful by any stretch but his time seems to be coming close to an end. If Dekanich can dodge injury, then he has the talent to challenge Mason and potentially surpass him. Needless to say he is on the bubble of the Top 10 here, but the upside is very high.
Well, that will do it. Now let us have it with any other questions. Our podcast runs Sundays and Wednesdays for two hours starting at 8 p.m. ET for a reason: to give you, the fans, a chance to let your voices be heard. Check out The Program on iTunes for some top notch –and free — Fantasy hockey advice. Good luck, everyone.