With all the hype surrounding Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Dion Phaneuf, Thomas Vanek, and Marek Svatos, it’s important the other rookies in this year’s double cohort are not overlooked – especially in keeper leagues.
Here’s the second tier of this year’s freshmen and a quick look at where they are heading, both from a career standpoint and the current season. (To read Part 1, click HERE)
Kyle Wellwood, Toronto. AHL scoring machine has pretty much forced his way onto this team. Coach Pat Quinn is not the biggest supporter of smaller players, nor is he the biggest fan of rookies, but this 22 year old has left Quinn little choice but to find him some ice time. Wellwood has an excellent chance of becoming a big scorer in the NHL, with an upside of around 85 points. He may not achieve that in Toronto, but he could attain it somewhere else down the road nonetheless. Don’t expect his current 40 to 45-point pace to change this year.
Brandon Bochenski, Ottawa. WCHA graduate is making the most of his opportunity in Ottawa. His job is safe for the rest of this season due to Martin Havlat’s injury and he has the ability to clear 60 points. There is still some questions concerning whether or not he needs solid linemates in order to produce, but should still be a 65 to 75-point player down the road.
Andrej Meszaros, Ottawa. As if the Senators didn’t have enough talent, along comes Meszaros to not only lead the NHL in plus-minus, but to also chip in the odd point. Just 20 years of age, Meszaros has the ability to become a 50-point defenseman. That will depend on Ottawa’s ability to hang onto its top two defensemen (Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara) after this season. If the Sens have to let one go, Meszaros will fill in nicely. Should finish in the low 30-point range this year.
Alexander Perezhogin, Montreal. One of the most offensively skilled rookies in the NHL this year, Perezhogin should take a healthy run at 40 points and he’ll do it on 10 or 11 minutes of ice time per game. He has the ability to become an 80-point player someday and is one of the rookies who is most likely to achieve his potential.
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota. Brother of Montreal’s Saku, Mikko plays an all-around game. From an offensive standpoint, I wouldn’t expect the younger Koivu to ever reach 70 points in a season. Plus, there is a history of injuries (one thing he has in common with his brother). Should round into a 60-point player, but will not get more than 40 this year.
Zach Parise, New Jersey. Do not be fooled by the low offensive start to his career – he will be a superstar, it just may take a few years. He is definitely worth owning on your keeper league team and will be well worth the wait. Will be lucky to reach 35 points this season.
R.J. Umberger, Philadelphia. Immensely talented, but the year he sat out (2003-04) may have hindered his development. He shows flashes of offense, but will never be more than a 60 or 65-point player. This season he will bounce back and forth from the NHL to the AHL, and will likely have 25 or 30 points in 50 or 60 games.
Rostislav Olesz, Florida. Highly skilled, all-around hockey player who is showing some signs of fragility already. He still seems to be improving and his potential is unlimited. He could wind up consistently producing anywhere from 60 to 90 points per season down the road – health permitting. In less than three years, Olesz has had a serious concussion and a sprained MCL – and he just turned 20.
Robert Nilsson, NY Islanders. This 20 year old has tons of skill and Islanders management behind him. He will have every opportunity to put up the numbers, even though he failed to do so in the NHL this year. Currently in the AHL, Nilsson will eventually wind up a 70-point NHL player – it just may take three or four years.
Milan Michalek, San Jose. 21 year old seems to always run into injury problems. His potential is massive, but his health may never let him achieve it. If Michalek can string together a couple of healthy seasons, it may allow him to grow into a 65 or 70-point player.
The 2005-06 season showcases a very promising rookie class with these 25 being among the most notable. Other rookies to keep an eye on include Tomas Plekanec, Marcel Goc, Lukas Krajicek, Keith Ballard, Ryan Whitney, Erik Christensen, Jim Slater and Jason Pominville. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are currently in the AHL, but no doubt will be called back up soon.
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