Defenseman Zach Bogosian, 19, is a plus player on defensively challenged Atlanta Thrashers team. Tampa Bay rookie Steve Stamkos and St. Louis Blues rookie Patrick Berglund both have scored 21 goals, the same number that Patrick Kane scored last season when he was NHL Rookie of the Year.
But Doughty, Bogosian, Stamkos and Berglund all may struggle to even make the top four in the Rookie of the Year race this season.
“Have you seen a better crop of rookies than we have this year, because I know I haven’t,” St. Louis Blues President John Davidson said to me earlier today.
My answer is that I haven’t seen a rookie class that goes as deep as the 2008-09 group.
Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan is a rookie 30-goal scorer, and there are six other rookies with 20 or more goals. James Neal of Dallas has 24 goals and you never hear his name. Matt Hunwick is plus-18 on Boston’s defense and he has received no attention because Columbus goalie Steve Mason has been nearly invincible and Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has been nearly as impressive. Ryan is also in contention for the Calder Trophy, and Boston’s Blake Wheeler will receive votes because he’s a 20-goal man, plus he’s plus-36.
“If (T.J.) Oshie didn’t miss those 25 games, he would be there as well,” Davidson said.
Despite playing only 54 games, Blues rookie Oshie has 14 goals and he’s plus-15. Scouts love the energy he brings to the rink. Davidson hopes the Americans will look at him next season for an Olympic roster spot.
It’s almost been forgotten that Columbus rookie Derick Brassard has 25 points in 31 games before he suffered a season-ending injury. That’s how strong this rookie crop has been. “We all talk about Mason, but Rinne has been unbelievable in Nashville,” Davidson said. “This rookie group is fascinating.”
This rookie crop may be the most productive rookie class in NHL history.