Well there we have it. The 2017-18 is nearly in the rearview mirror (an inconsequential BOS/FLA makeup game awaits tonight), and it was an absolutely fantastic year for rookies. Barzal hit 85 points, blowing everyone's expectations away, and Vancouver has a new local legend in Brock Boeser (seriously, he's everywhere here now). But now its time for playoffs, and not all of these talented kids will be included. Some teams got knocked out, and some stronger teams will be a lot less generous with their ice time now that games amtter again. So let's do a quick run-down of the kids we may or may not see more of in the playoffs:
With Carlyle coaching, dont expect forwards like Roy, Terry, or Kossila to be in the lineup unless multiple injuries occur. Similarly, the current third pairing of Petterson and Welinski will only hang around until Fowler and Bieksa are ready to return (second or third round). I'm expecting minimal TOI all around.
Here we go – a team with real contributing rookies. If anything, McAvoy's 22 minutes/game will go up once the games start to really matter, but to save his energy I also expect him to see minimal powerplay time. Donato has played far fewer games than anyone else on the team and I expect that freshness will give him a boost. No reason he should slide off PP1 until Rick Nash returns. Meanwhile, DeBrusk and Heinen are holding down the 2nd line and swap in and out of PP2. With most teams sheltering their kids, Boston deserves our DobberProspects respect for letting them do their thing to the fullest.
Speaking of big-game rookies, who saw Sam Girard's performance last night with the teams playoff hopes on the line?? He stepped up to the plate and will be expected to do so even more with Johnson injured. Its very possible they lean on him on the PP to help keep Barrie rested. Kerfoot continues to bring streaky productivity to the 2nd line alongside a solid (but not top-level) Jost. Compher currently sits on the 4th line but moves up and down the lineup a lot and is a good candidate to be "that bottom six guy" that every team has that seems to step up in the playoffs.
Dubois' hype was rewarded this season as he steadily rose to the #1 centerman position. Him and Milano hold down spots on the top ES line and PP1 unit, and the Jackets have exactly the type of defensive players needed to let them take the OZ starts. This could be a perfect situation for the two rookies to rack up the points whie Letestu and Dubinsky take care of DZ starts. If you believe in Columbus to upset in the first round, these two are your fantasy targets. Kukan is on the 3rd pairing right now but barely sees any TOI so dont worry about it.
Despite being regular-season standouts, Kempe and Iafollo just dont have the linemates or TOI to be as productive as they were during the injury-riddled regular season. Kempe on PP2 is still a good chance for a few points, but Iafollo is off my draft list completely. Expect Ladue and Brickley to be ushered aside with Muzzin and Forbort's returns. Amadio could turn into a 4th line hero that LA loves to churn out, but there are safer bets to make.
The Wild bottom-six is centered by fantasy-relevant freshmen in Greenway and Eriksson–Ek. Neither exacly lit it up before now, but both play a complete, heavy, playoff-ready game and could easily break out. Kunin had surgery and is dunzo. Catastophic hits to the back end mean Seeler is on the second-pairing, but there isn't fantasy value there.
Eeli Tolvanen. Ultimate sleeper, pure sniper. Incredibly high payoff potential.
Top line center Hischier and winger Bratt will be getting lots of attention, but luckily they're also on PP1 so we can still expect them to be producers in some capacity. Speaking of PP1, Butcher is still a point machine and worth keeping in mind if you believe in the up