The 2023-24 NHL rookie class tasks to be completely loaded. With the likes of Connor Bedard, Logan Cooley, Adam Fantilli, Luke Hughes, and lots of extra rookies anticipated to have large first years, I assumed it might be enjoyable to try 5 rookies who’ve one thing to show to their golf equipment. Which freshmen will likely be beneath the microscope?
Matthew Knies, 20, Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Matthew Knies obtained a pattern of the Nationwide Hockey League final season when he appeared in three regular-season video games and 7 playoff contests, amassing one objective and three assists. Knies will now battle for a full-time roster spot amongst different children within the Leafs system, like 22-year-old, injury-plagued Nick Robertson. With Knies wholesome and eager to make the leap to a full-time place, that is his likelihood to take action.
The 20-year-old collected 21 objectives and 21 assists for the College of Minnesota; he was named the NCAA B1G Participant of the 12 months, named to the NCAA West First All-Star Staff and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. After his efficiency in the course of the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which noticed Knies take common shifts throughout additional time intervals, it nearly appears sure he will likely be a roster lock.
Knies actually distinguished himself along with his dimension and was continuously capable of create turnovers on the forecheck; a group can by no means have sufficient gamers who can create time and area down low. With that, Knies might want to proceed to earn the belief of head coach Sheldon Keefe and new common supervisor Brad Treliving. The Phoenix, Arizona product has been skating on a line all through coaching camp with John Tavares and Sam Lafferty, an excellent indication of the long run.
Brandt Clarke, 20, Los Angeles Kings
The L.A. Kings’ younger blueline prodigy Brandt Clarke appears to have an enormous impactful season down in California. Clarke was chosen No. 8 total within the 2021 NHL Draft. He appeared in 9 video games final season with the Kings, the place he tallied two assists. The Kings returned Clarke to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, the place he massacred the league and notched 61 factors in 31 video games. He completed fourth amongst OHL defensemen in objectives and fifth in factors regardless of enjoying solely half a season.
It actually is barely a matter of time earlier than Clarke is maneuvering round like a highlight-reel machine on the ice. He additionally appeared in 5 video games with the Ontario Reign of the AHL on a conditioning task, the place he collected one objective and one help. The Kings made some modifications to their blueline this offseason, buying and selling Sean Walker and Sean Druzi. Their departures open up room for the 20-year-old to fit in and set up himself as a younger elite defender. With Drew Doughty ageing, Clarke is the proper alternative to turn out to be the Kings’ new powerplay service provider.
“He’s a type of youngsters who loves enjoying hockey, each second of it,” stated Kings director of newbie scouting Mark Yannetti. “Each time he goes on the ice, as an alternative of pouting, he’s like, ‘I’m going to attain.’ I’ve by no means seen a child come again to junior when he arguably has a professional case to be on the NHL group and do what he has achieved.”
Shane Wright, 19, Seattle Kraken
After falling out of the highest three within the 2022 NHL Draft, Seattle Kraken prospect Shane Wright should show he’s the true deal and prepared for the NHL. Wright spent the 2022-23 marketing campaign break up between the Kraken, the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL and the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. The Burlington, Ontario product appeared in eight video games, with the Kraken registering two factors. He was scratched for 5 straight video games earlier than being re-assigned to the Firebirds, the place he registered 4 factors in 5 AHL video games; then, within the rollercoaster of a yr it was, he rejoined the Kraken for one recreation earlier than being re-assigned to Canada’s World Junior squad.
Following the World Juniors, Wright was then despatched again to the OHL, the place the Windsor Spitfires acquired his rights. He notched 37 factors in 20 video games and three factors in eight OHL Playoff contests. Wright then re-joined the Firebirds for his or her 2023 Calder Cup run, the place he tallied 9 factors in 24 video games. Now, the NHL and CHL made an settlement on Wright, indicating if he doesn’t make the Kraken’s opening evening roster, he doesn’t need to return to juniors and, due to this fact, can play a full season with Coachella Valley. It is a large yr for Wright, who was at one level thought-about the bonafide No. 1 total choose on the 2022 Draft; that is his revenge yr.
Marco Rossi, 22, Minnesota Wild
Marco Rossi was chosen by the Minnesota Wild No. 9 total within the 2020 NHL Draft. The 2-way phenom dominated the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in his draft yr, registering 39 objectives and 81 assists for 120 factors in 56 video games. He additionally added an extra 22 factors in the course of the Ottawa 67’s playoff run. Rossi was awarded the OHL’s Crimson Tilson Trophy because the OHL’s Most Excellent Participant, in addition to the OHL Prime Scorer award and the Eddie Energy Trophy for OHL’s Most Factors. Rossi’s main junior dominance earned him an entry-level contract in October of 2020.
However since then, Rossi has struggled in his improvement path, and that primarily has to do with a medical battle with Myocarditis that sidelined him for almost the complete 2020-21 season. Rossi has continued to bounce up and down between the Wild and their AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Throughout the 2022-23 marketing campaign, he appeared in 19 video games with Minnesota, amassing only one help earlier than being wholesome scratched for 4 straight video games and re-assigned to Iowa. Whereas down in Iowa, he notched 16 objectives and 35 assists for 51 factors in 53 video games, he was second amongst Wild leaders. In two seasons with Iowa, Rossi amassed 34 objectives and 70 factors in 116 video games. There’s a whole lot of hope among the many Wild employees that Rossi can crack the opening evening roster and play out a full season within the NHL this yr. If he can keep wholesome, that is his yr to show he belongs within the NHL.
Dustin Wolf, 22, Calgary Flames
22-year-old Calgary Flames goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf has established himself as one of many prime elite younger goalies arising. Throughout the 2022-23 season with the Flames AHL affiliate, the Calgary Wranglers, Wolf put collectively a 42-10-2 report and .932 save share in 55 appearances. His stellar efficiency earned him the AHL Finest Goaltender Award for a second consecutive season, in addition to the AHL Most Helpful Participant Award. Wolf led all AHL goalies in wins, save share, goals-against common and 7 shutouts. With back-to-back seasons dominating the AHL, it’s about time Wolf will get the callup to backstop Flames beginning goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Wolf’s dominant reign isn’t new both; it has been occurring for years. Whereas he was with the Everett Silvertips within the WHL, he captured the CHL Goaltender of the 12 months Award and the WHL Prime Goaltender Award in 2019-20 after posting a .935 save share. The next season, he as soon as once more was named the WHL Prime Goaltender and helped Staff USA seize a gold medal on the World Juniors. However with Dan Vladar presently holding the backup place, Wolf has needed to battle all through coaching camp and preseason to safe a spot. He appeared in a single recreation with the Flames final season, incomes a victory and permitting only one objective. The rising star is prepared for a full-time gig. When he does get his likelihood, he’ll be on a mission to determine himself as Calgary’s future No. 1. However for now: he’s blocked. Flames GM Craig Conroy indicated this week that Wolf must begin the season within the AHL except they discover a commerce avenue for Vladar. It’s troublesome to think about Wolf spending one other total season within the minors, although. His time is coming.