Whether your league requires you to ice a rookie, or you want to take a chance and hope to land the next superstar, here are 10 NHL rookies worth drafting for the coming season of fantasy hockey.
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1. C Jack Hughes, NJD
The No. 1 selection from the 2019 draft will likely be the first rookie taken in many leagues, and for good reason. He should have no trouble securing a spot in the Devils top six and will gain even more value if he has Taylor Hall on his wing. If you want to draft the player with the highest ceiling, draft Jack Hughes.
2. RW Kaapo Kakko, NYR
The No. 2 pick from the 2019 draft should be the first rookie winger off the board. Kakko joins a revitalized Rangers squad including the likes of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba among others. There is a case to be made on drafting Kakko ahead of Jack Hughes, as it’s typically easier to find talent at center than it is at wing. The Finn could work his way onto the top line alongside Mika Zibanejad and Panarin, giving him plenty of upside.
3. D Cale Makar, COL
Makar turned heads with how well he played right out of the gate – posting six points in 10 playoff games last spring. Now that the Avalanche moved out Tyson Barrie, Makar will find himself in a prominent role all season. While he may not match Barrie’s 25 power-play points, Makar has the luxury of stepping into the vacant role on the first power-play unit.
4. D Quinn Hughes, VAN
In similar style to Makar, Hughes made his NHL debut late in the season and made a good first impression. Quinn’s skating and ability to make a breakout pass is exactly what the Canucks have been missing for years. Despite Alex Edler being the usual power-play quarterback, Quinn should find himself overtaking that role as the season progresses.
5. G Mackenzie Blackwood, NJD
Blackwood appeared in 23 games this past season, winning 10 contests with a 2.16 GAA, .918 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. Not too shabby for a 22-year-old getting his first taste of NHL action while playing for the 29th ranked Devils. He’ll be sharing the crease with Cory Schneider, but they could easily split the workload, given Schneider’s recent health concerns. New Jersey has a very different looking team going into 2019-20, which should mean even better numbers for Blackwood in his first full season.
6. C Sam Steel, ANA
Steel also enters the season with some NHL experience, having played 22 games last season. He primarily played on a line with Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg, which resulted in Steel registering 11 points. The Ducks have a void at center with Ryan Kesler reportedly out for the season after hip surgery. Steel should be a lock to make the roster out of training camp, and if he can center the first line again, look for him to have a productive year.
7. LW Max Comtois, ANA
Steel isn’t alone among NHL rookies that could make a difference in Anaheim. Comtois came out hot last October, scoring seven points in 10 games. He was ultimately sent back down to the QMJHL, where he tallied 48 points in 25 games and captained Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He should be considered the favorite to lock down the second-line left wing position.
8. D Evan Bouchard, EDM
Bouchard got a seven-game stint in the NHL before being sent back to the OHL last fall. He was brilliant in the playoffs – racking up 21 points in 11 games for the London Knights, followed by 8 points in as many games for Bakersfield in the AHL. He looks poised to take the next step, which could be on the Oilers second pair. His skill set should also grant him power-play minutes. If he can beat out Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom to get on that first unit alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, he’ll be golden.
9. G Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ
The departure of Sergei Bobrovsky leaves a huge void in the Columbus crease. Joonas Korpisalo remains with the club, but he has struggled in a backup role and hasn’t convinced anyone that he’s ready to be the new starter. Enter Merzlikins, a 2014 3rd round draft pick coming over from the Swiss League (NLA). It remains to be seen how his game will translate to the NHL, but the door is wide open for him to be the No. 1 between the pipes. He’s a complete wildcard, but worth taking a flier on with a late round pick.
10. D Dante Fabbro, NSH
The Predators are known for pumping out great defensemen, and Fabbro looks to be the latest one. Nashville’s defense drops off after their big three of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. With P.K. Subban traded to New Jersey, the opening on the second pairing is his to lose. He’s surrounded by talent and is in a system that will help him reach his potential.
Other NHL rookies to consider: RW Drake Batherson, OTT; Erik Brannstrom, OTT; D Bowen Byram, COL; D Adam Fox, NYR; C Morgan Frost, PHI; LW Taro Hirose, DET; RW Vitali Kravtsov, NYR; C Ryan Poehling, MTL; RW Eeli Tolvanen, NSH; RW Filip Zadina, DET
Which NHL rookies are you targeting? For more great stuff from the fantasy ice, check out our full slate of NHL content.
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