The NHL All-Star Game will host a slew of rookies this year, who will take part in the skills competition. But based on injuries to several veteran stars, a spot in Sunday’s showdown was opened up for one of those deserving freshmen.
The phenomenal Canes teen is heading to his first All-Star Game and not just as part of the rookie skills complement – he’s in the big game. Skinner is running away with the freshman scoring title. His 40 points put him eight up on San Jose’s Logan Couture and the Calder race is looking like a battle between those two and Philly goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Bruins had a need for another puck-moving defenseman after trading Matt Hunwick and Kampfer has stepped into the role effortlessly, showing confidence on the rush and logging big minutes. In the past three games, he’s played more than 21 minutes per contest and has eight points through 23 games.
Goaltending has been all the rage on Long Island lately – pun intended – but in the midst of the chaos, Poulin has stood tall. The former Victoriaville Tigres netminder has put in some good work on a poor team and leads the Isles in goals-against average (2.59) and save percentage (.925).
Only two rookies have faceoff win percentages better than 50: Couture and Pittsburgh’s Mark Letestu. Couture is at 51.5 percent, but he can also lay claim to the distinction of being the first freshman to hit the 20-goal mark this season. His contributions in San Jose have been a welcome development in a down season.
Reimer’s run over the past month has been a rare bright spot for the Maple Leafs this season and actually raised more questions about the future of Toronto’s crease, but the numbers don’t lie. The former ECHLer boasts a 2.24 GAA and .933 save percentage in eight appearances. With a bigger sampling, those stats would qualify among the best in the entire NHL.
Clifford made the Kings thanks to his role as an energy player who can protect his teammates and the youngster hasn’t wasted any time in that department. The former Barrie Colt is top-10 in the league in fighting majors and leads all rookies in PIM with 81 through 45 games. He’s also chipped in eight points.
He may have cooled off a little since his hat trick debut in the NHL, but Stepan is providing the Blueshirts with some much-needed secondary offense, totaling 30 points through 52 games. His ice time is also trending upward as a result, with 19-minute appearances becoming more common.
The diminutive Byron (amazing how many Sabres stories start with that adjective) has two NHL games under his belt and two points to show for his efforts. The Ottawa, Ont., native even got his first goal in front of family and friends when the Sabres bested the Senators Jan. 25. He was a big scorer in the Quebec League before turning pro.
The Wild have been snakebitten by goalie injuries this season, but Khudobin has saved Minny’s bacon lately. The colorful Kazakh has given up just four goals in his past three starts and boasts an overall GAA of 1.59 to go with a .942 save percentage. With Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore back, though, Khudobin was recently sent back to American League Houston.
It’s clear Edmonton has the offensive horses to do damage in the near future, but what about on the back end? Petry, a 6-foot-3 Michigan State alum, looks like at least part of the answer. Through 13 appearances this season, the big man has logged major ice time, including more than 27 minutes in a recent shootout loss to Nashville. He’s third among rookies in the category at 21:27 per game.
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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