Saturday, September 6, 2008

Who are the top rookies?

So, who will be the top rookie of the 2008-09 NHL campaign? It'll be one of these five players. How do I know that? It's easy.

They're among the annual bumper crop of first-year players who bring either excitement or dread, depending upon where you stand as a fan of NHL teams.

Though none is likely to supplant any of today's young stars this season, these five players will get to take the first steps of what their employers hope will be long and productive careers

No. 5: Kyle Okposo (pronounced OH-po-sew), right wing
New York Islanders
20 years old (4.16.88) / Drafted seventh overall in 2006
The skinny: The Islanders are beginning yet another youth movement, and Okposo is carrying the banner. With five points in a nine-game call-up last year, as well as 28 in 35 games in AHL Bridgeport, Okposo should make a seamless transition.

No. 4: Fabian Brunnstrom, left wing
Dallas Stars
23 years old (2.6.85) / Signed as a free agent in 2008
The skinny: Everyone seems to think he'll be this season's best player from Europe. My question, however, is will Brunnstrom be more like Peter Forberg or Andreas Karlsson? The Stars' brass and fans are hoping he's more like Foppa than Floppa. At 23, he'll be one of the NHL's oldest rookies.

No. 3: Drew Doughty, defense
Los Angeles Kings
18 years old (12.8.89) / Drafted second overall in 2008
The skinny: Given all the young talent that the Kings have stockpiled over the past few seasons, it makes sense that a resurgence is in the works. Doughty and teammate Jack Johnson should have a good handle on Los Angeles' blueline for quite a few years.

No. 2: Kyle Turris, center
Pheonix Coyotes
19 years old (8.14.89) / Drafted third overall in 2007
The skinny: Turris' expected appearance in the Coyotes' lineup should take some offensive pressure off of Peter Mueller and, perhaps, Shane Doan. Here's to hoping for two things: he handles the pressure and absorbs every bit of wisdom imparted by his coach, Wayne Gretzky.

No. 1: Steven Stamkos, center
Tampa Bay Lightning
18 years old (2.7.90) / Drafted first overall in 2008
The skinny: To some, it's nearly cheating to say the top pick of the most recent NHL draft will be the following season's top rookie. Stamkos, however, seems to be the complete package. I'm looking forward to watching him play.

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