2008-09 NHL Draft Kit: Rookies
We continue the 2008-09 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit today, as Steven discusses the top rookies you’ll need to keep an eye on this season.
Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa’s first-round pick (first overall) is supposed to be NHL-ready, and he’s receiving particular praise for his shot and skating The Lightning are suddenly very deep so Stamkos won’t have the pressure of carrying the team, but he’s expected to garner second-line minutes and even some PP time.
Kyle Okposo, RW, New York Islanders: Okposo has been rushed up to the NHL because the Islanders have so little talent. He played a few games at the NHL level last season and didn’t look out of place at all, potting five points in nine contests. But the Islanders really want him to succeed, so he should get lots of opportunities this season, especially now that rookie-hating head coach Ted Nolan has left the Island. The organization fully expects Okposo to receive regular playing time and to contribute immediately; take your cues from them.
Zach Bogosian, D, Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers signed the defenseman to a three-year deal with the goal of moving him into the defensive rotation right away. The word is he was the best defenseman at the NHL Prospects Tournament. Bogosian, the third overall pick in this year’s entry draft, is a huge Bobby Orr fan, which should tell you something about his style of play, however, asking someone who just turned 18 to have an immediate impact as an NHL defenceman may be a bit much.
Nikita Filatov, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets: Columbus asked him to stop playing exhibition games with his Russian club, which seems a strong indication the Blue Jackets are ready to drop him into the NHL as soon as possible. First, of course, he’ll have to get over a hairline fracture in his fibula, an injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined another couple of weeks. He may not miss the beginning of the season, fortunately.
Kyle Turris, C, Phoenix Coyotes: Don’t be fooled by his one point in a three-game call-up last season. He’s a sleeper pick with a lot of upside and he’s expected to play on the second line in Phoenix, which means plenty of minutes.
Nikolai Kulemin, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs: With the Leafs in hardcore rebuilding mode, it seems to make sense the 2006 second-round pick will make the team. Kulemin’s alleged speed might make for a good pairing with Jason Blake. If nothing else, at least Kulemin has superstar Evgeni Malkin’s endorsement.
Artem Anisimov, C New York Rangers: The Rangers’ 2006 second-round pick has long been rumoured to be NHL-ready. He put up 43 points in the AHL last season and with the Rangers shockingly short of snipers, he could find his way onto the opening day roster. The only concern about him seems to be his weight — he’s 6′4″, but just 200 pounds — and the team would like to see him fill out before he’s ready to handle the rigours of NHL duty. This is a player to watch very closely in training camp, as his play will dictate whether he forces his way onto the roster or not.
Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings: The Kings gave their 2008 first-round (second overall) pick a three-year entry-level contract, meaning they probably intend to play the 18-year-old defenseman. Unlike a lot of NHL rookies who desperately try to put on the weight, Doughty has been shedding pounds to make himself more mobile. As long as he gets off to a decent start in camp, he should make the opening day roster for LA.
Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues: The St. Louis Blues defenseman is supposed to be NHL-ready. The first-round (fourth overall) pick is also supposed to have a bit of a scoring touch, although who knows how that will translate to the NHL level. He just signed a three-year contract with the Blues, though, so at least the paperwork is all set. If it’s any indication, Pietrangelo looked very good at the NHL Prospects Camp, logging two assists on Tuesday.
T.J. Oshie, C, St. Louis Blues: The 2005 first-round pick (24th overall) is expected to make the Blues this training camp. The center is supposed to have a lot of talent, but the Blues have a history of moving rookies in and out of position and on and off lines, so it could be a rough adjustment. The early results at the NHL Prospects Camp have been promising, as Oshie potted a pair of goals Tuesday.