The NHL rookie class is starting to come into its own as we get into the second month of the season. Players are starting to get more comfortable, finding their roles on their respective teams, and most of all, they are beginning to understand what they can and can’t do at the NHL level. Aside from some of the early contenders for the Calder Trophy, there have been plenty of freshman NHLers that stood out recently. Here are three with surprising performances last week.
Owen Power(s)-Up Offensively
Everyone knew this was coming at some point, but the 2021 first-overall pick is finally starting to find the scoresheet a bit offensively.
Power has five assists in his last four games, looking all the more like the puck-moving dynamo that Buffalo drafted to help change their franchise’s fortunes. The former Michigan Wolverine has been manipulative and skilled with the puck, and his defensive numbers have been quite good as well.
Power's been paired with a few players throughout the short season so far, but he’s found his most success with two players in particular – one expectedly and one quite unexpectedly.
His time with Rasmus Dahlin was fun hockey. They played to roughly even results but produced some entertaining offensive rushes.
The most success Power has found from a play-driving and shot-share perspective has been with Kale Clague. They’ve been one of the best pairs in the league at driving play. It comes as no surprise that Power’s production has spiked in that time. One of the pre-season favorites to win the Calder is working his way back into the race.
Matias Maccelli Heats Up In The Dessert
With four assists – all primary – in his last four games, the 2019 fourth-round pick found his groove when the Coyotes finally played a few games at home recently. Maccelli is a playmaking Finn who tore up the AHL last year and looked solid in a limited NHL run. With a role on the big club full-time to start this season, Maccelli is tied for fourth in team scoring and sits tied for second among all NHL rookies.
Maccelli found a way to be a productive player on a team lacking offensive talent. His shiftiness and creativity along with his slick passing ability have allowed him to make life easy for his teammates.
It’s going to be tough for him to keep up in the rookie-scoring race as the Yotes may struggle to score throughout the season. If Maccelli can keep up and stay in the race, the environment that he plays in should be a boost to his Calder case.
Logan Thompson Takes the Vegas Crease
The Golden Knights came into the season with a strong roster that wasn’t plagued by injuries as much as last season. The one exception to that was in net where one of the league's best netminders, Robin Lehner, was set to be out for the season due to off-season hip surgery.
That gave the crease to a cast of characters that included Laurent Brossoit, Adin Hill, and a 25-year-old rookie that was the favorite to take the starter reigns in Logan Thompson.
To say that Thompson has taken the starter's role and run with it would be an understatement early in the season. His numbers have been among the league's best netminders. He’s tied for the league lead in shutouts and sits in the top five in save percentage.
It's not all due to a strong defense, either. Thompson also sits eighth in goals saved above average, which factors in the quality of shots faced, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Thompson shows he can make most saves look easy, and when he’s had to come out of his structure to make the big save, he’s done just that. His Calder case continues to build.