While the meeting between the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils last week was no clash of the titans by any means, the game did feature an extraordinary amount of rookies – eight of them to be exact, many of whom contributed offensively in an eventual 4-3 New Jersey overtime win. As more freshmen make their season debuts, here’s a look at some of the news on the newbies.
Calder-eligible by the slightest of margins (he played 25 games last year, the most a rookie’s allowed to play before he loses his eligibility), Couture is starting to give the Sharks scoring depth past the big top line. The two-way pivot has four points in his past two games and 10 overall through 16 contests.
Called up from Albany last week, the smallish speedster with quick hands has made an immediate impact for the flailing Devils, popping two points in three games, including his first NHL goal on a power play vs. Edmonton. He also played more than 17 minutes that night. Ironically, his points pace is better in the NHL than it was in the American League this year.
At 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, the 24-year-old Kassian has little to fear on the ice and he showed it in his second NHL game, dropping the gloves with Blue Jackets scrapper Jared Boll. With Derek Boogaard and John Scott both gone, the Wild can use another set of fists and Kassian proved his worth against the more experienced Boll.
Snake-bitten early in his NHL career, the hardworking Marchand broke through in style, scoring his first goal on a shorthanded breakaway against Buffalo. The diminutive Marchand has been a solid spoke in the B’s wheel, contributing six points through 15 games.
With the Avs getting killed by injuries on the blueline, Shattenkirk (along with Colby Cohen and David Liffiton) came in to stanch the bleeding. The puckmover – and former Boston University star – has played big minutes of late, including 21:17 in a loss to the Red Wings. He has also been lauded for his leadership skills throughout his young career.
Small and speedy, Ennis has gotten back on track lately, lining up with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy for an effective scoring line. He has three goals in his past four games and is tied for second in rookie scoring with Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle – four points behind Carolina’s Jeff Skinner.
The Maple Leafs were dying, so they brought in Kadri and defenseman Keith Aulie from the AHL’s Marlies to inject some life into the lineup. Kadri’s creativity in the offensive zone certainly inspired, as the Buds put up eight goals in his first two games. He only factored into one of those markers – helping to set up a Kris Versteeg power play goal – but logged a lot of ice time, including a shade under 20 minutes in a win over Nashville that broke Toronto’s eight-game winless streak.
There’s more to the game than just scoring and Martin has proven to be an effective energy player for the Isles. With 50 hits in nine games, the former Sarnia Sting winger is the runaway leader in the category among rookies and he’s already dropped the gloves three times.
It’s difficult to replace a blueliner like Andrei Markov, but that’s the boat in which the Habs find themselves once again and the onus will fall on Subban to pick up the slack. With eight points and a plus-6 rating in 18 games, the affable defenseman (and recent THN cover boy (http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/36330-This-Week-in-THN-Nov-22-2010.html)) is certainly doing his part. Plus, the Habs are hot with Carey Price, so life is good in Montreal.
Much of the Sabres’ game plan revolves around the comfort of having Ryan Miller in net, so when the all-world goalie was sidelined with a leg injury, Enroth had a big task on his hands. And while the Swedish rookie’s personal numbers aren’t flattering, his most important stat is his record of 2-1-1. For a team that struggled to get points early in the season, Buffalo must be happy with that.
The Rookie Report covers the top performances from first year NHLers. From Calder candidates to brief call-ups, we’ll bundle all the best together every other week only on thehockeynews.com
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