The 2017-2018 NHL season has produced some fantastic plays by the league’s veterans, but don’t sleep on the rookies that have come into their own over the course of the season. As the playoffs get closer, let’s shine a light on some of the youngest talents who joined the national league this 2017- 2018 year.
Nico Hischier: New Jersey Devils
At only 19 years old Nico was the first overall NHL draft pick in 2017. Hischier joined the New Jersey Devils and immediately started proving himself, scoring a total of 7 points in only four games during the preseason. The Devils head coach John Hynes only has great things to say about his rookie, he’s earned his spot in the second line with Marcus Johansson and Drew Stafford.
Nico is expected to be centering the first line powerplay alongside Johansson, Hall, and Palmieri. Basically anywhere the coach can put Nico he will to ensure they’ll have a great season. If Nico continues on his goal streak, there’s definitely a strong chance at a playoffs spot with the Devils name on it. Hischier is definitely skating his way towards being a Calder Cup candidate. Not to mention his baby face is too adorable for words, so his skating abilities are just an added bonus to the ladies!
Charlie McAvoy: Boston Bruins
At only 20 years old McAvoy is one of the best defensive players in the league. Charlie was the 14th overall NHL draft pick in 2016. After finishing up a very successful season at Boston University, scoring 26 points in 38 games when he was only 18 years old. The Bruins knew they just had to have him.
He’s been a real asset to helping the Bruins make it to the playoffs this season. Despite having a health-related setback with his knee, McAvoy was back on the ice skating with his team now. We’re all rooting for you, Charlie!
Alex DeBrincat- Chicago Blackhawks
At 20 years old Alex fresh out training camp made the Blackhawks roster at the start of the 2017-18 season. He made his NHL debut on October 5, 2017, in a 10-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins! On October 10th DeBrincat scored his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens on goaltender Carey Price.
Alex is also the second youngest Blackhawks player to score a hat-trick. Which he accomplished on November 27, 2017, against the Anaheim Ducks. Alex’s second hat trick followed shortly after, earning him another record of being the youngest rookie to score two regular-season hat tricks in one season. When Alex scored his third hat trick, the Blackhawks knew they struck gold. DeBrincat set a new rookie record for the Blackhawks and tied with Tony Granato for most hat tricks made by a U.S. born rookie in a season.
Matthew Barzal- New York Islanders
At 20 years old Matthew is playing center for the New York Islanders. Barzal was the 16th overall NHL draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Barzal’s first NHL goal took place on October 19, 2017, against Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
Barzal’s first multi-goal game and his first hat-trick occurred on December 23, 2017, against the Winnipeg Jets. Which resulted in a 5-2 win for the Islanders. On January 13, 2018, Barzal accomplished one of his proudest achievements yet. In an Islanders 7-2 win over the Rangers, Matthew became the 5th player in the history of the NHL to have two 5-point games in a season before his 21st birthday.
These four rookies are the ones to watch as playoffs get closer, but who actually wins the NHL Rookie of the Year award remains anyone’s guess. These four rookies are arguably the best that have played so far, but there is stiff competition out there for the Calder Memorial Trophy.