Rookie Watch: Canadiens lead NHL relying on first-year players

Rookie Watch: Canadiens lead NHL relying on first-year players

Rookie Watch: Canadiens lead NHL relying on first-year players

The impact of multiple rookies on the NHL is one of the main storylines for the 2022-23 season. Each week, NHL.com will review topics related to this season’s class in Rookie Watch.

This week’s look at the top five NHL teams with the most games played by rookies (ranked by total games played by rookies):

1. Montreal Canadiens

Total number of matches played by rookies: 213 (8 players)

Players: Attackers Juraj Slafkovsky, Anthony Richard, Jesse Ylonen; defenders Arber Xhekaj, Justin Barren, Kaiden Guhlé, Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic.

Recruits to watch: The Canadiens have plenty to be excited about when it comes to their rookie class, and those making the biggest impact are defensemen Guhle and Xhekaj. Guhle (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) leads all Montreal rookies with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and is second among NHL rookies in blocked shots (65) in 36 games with an average of 20 :46 in ice time. Xhekaj (6-4, 238) is first among Montreal rookies with five goals and second among NHL rookies in hits (128). He has 13 points and an average of 15:23 in 42 games. Slafkovsky, the first pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, had 10 points (four goals, six assists) and an average of 12:13 of ice time in 39 games.

Video: MTL@CGY: Slafkovsky shoots at home 13 seconds in

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

Total number of matches played by rookies: 189 (12 players)

Players: Attackers Kent Johnson, Liam Foudy, Kirill Marchenko, Carson Meyer, Trey Fix Wolansky, Josh Dunne; defenders David Jiricek, Nick Blankenburg, Tim Berni, Jake Christiansen, Marcus Bjork; goalie Daniil Tarasov.

Recruits to watch: Johnson (6-0, 175), the fifth selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, leads the Blue Jackets rookies with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists). He has 54 shots on goal and an average of 13:37 of ice time in 39 games. Bjork (6-4, 211), undrafted and signed as a free agent on May 24, 2022, was a nice addition with 11 points (three goals, eight assists), 42 blocked shots and 35 hits. The 25-year-old right-hander averaged 19:01 of ice time in 26 games.

3. Winnipeg Jets

Total number of matches played by rookies: 150 (5 players)

Players: Attackers David Gustafson, Cole Perfecti, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Christian Reichel; defender Dylan Samberg.

Recruits to watch: Perfetti (5-foot-11, 177 pounds), selected 10th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, is tied for second among NHL rookies with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) and is averaging 14:56 of ice time in 39 games. The 21-year-old is also tied for first among Winnipeg freshmen with 13 takeouts. Samberg (6-3, 190), a left-handed defenseman, has eight points (two goals, six assists) and is tied for second among rookies with 65 blocked shots. The 23-year-old, selected in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, also averages 15:31 of ice time and is ninth among rookies with 57 hits.

4. Ottawa Senators

Total number of matches played by rookies: 134 (5 players)

Players: Attackers Shane Pinto, Marc Kastelic; defenders Jake Sanderson, Jacob Bernard Docker, Lassi Thomson.

Recruits to watch: Sanderson lived up to expectations in his first full season with the Senators. The 20-year-old (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), selected No. 5 in the 2020 draft, ranks second among NHL rookie defensemen with 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) and average ice time (21:06) in 42 games. He leads all NHL rookies with 69 blocked shots and is tied for fourth with 17 takeaways. Pinto is third among NHL rookies in goals (10) and tied for 10th in points (17) with an average of 15:55 of ice time in 42 games.

Video: MTL@OTT: Pinto moves to post and Senators

5. Buffalo sabers

Total number of matches played by rookies: 126 (4 players)

Players: Attackers JJ Peterka, Jack Quinn; defender Owen Power; goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Recruits to watch: Power (6-foot-6, 218 pounds), selected No. 1 in the 2021 draft, is second among NHL rookie defensemen in assists (15), first in average ice time (23:52) and fifth for blocked shots (48). Peterka (6-0, 189), selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 2020 draft, has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) and 60 shots on goal in 39 games; he averaged 13:54 of ice time. Quinn (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), picked 8th in the 2020 draft, is tied for sixth (Kent Johnson) among rookies with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 34 games, averaging 13 :31 ice time. Luukkonen (6-foot-5, 217 pounds), a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2017 draft, is 10-4-1 with a 3.43 goals-against average and save percentage. .896 saves in 15 games (all starts). The 23-year-old goaltender is 6-1-0 (3.22 GAA; .911 save percentage) in his last seven starts.

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