Photo courtesy of https://www.hockeywilderness.com/
With injuries, postponements, and COVID-19 beginning to pile up for teams during this young season more and more rookies are getting their opportunity this season. While the teams may not be too happy having to rush the development of their prospects it sure gives the fans around North America something to salivate about. If you’re a fantasy manager looking to build a true dynasty these players should all be in your plans.
Kings Crowned with NHL Firsts
A pair of Los Angeles Kings players recently earned their first NHL goals with the club. American-born Arthur Kaliyev reminded us how good of a goal scorer he was in the OHL claiming his first goal in a Kings uniform in his first NHL game. The goal came in the young winger’s first game with the team back on February 2, 2021, against the rival Anaheim Ducks.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan also accomplished the same feat a few days after Kaliyev, on February 7, 2021, against the Vegas Golden Knights. Unlike Kaliyev, Dolan has played nine NHL games over his previous two seasons after playing the majority of those seasons in the AHL.
The Kings have been riddled with injuries early on in the season, which has forced these two youngsters into the lineup. Expect Dolan to have closer to a full-time role this season compared to Kaliyev while both of them can continue to be monitored as far as fantasy appeal goes.
Young Ducks Looking to “Quack” NHL Lineup
If you haven’t jumped onto the Trevor Zegras train yet you better do it before it takes full flight. In case you missed his performance in the 2021 World Junior Championships, Zegras led the tournament in scoring with 18 points in seven games and even claimed tournament MVP honors. He picked up right where he left off to begin the AHL season with the Anaheim Ducks minor league affiliate and has already tallied five points in two games to kick off his professional career.
Jamie Drysdale joins Zegras as another promising prospect in the Ducks organization who has two points through his first two games. Drysdale should be on fantasy radars in dynasty only leagues as he will likely need some further seasoning before jumping into NHL action. As for Zegras, he is a must-own player in all dynasty formats and could be a solid contributor in redraft leagues and take over a top-six role for the Ducks once they inevitably start moving players out closer to the trade deadline.
Not many would have predicted that defenseman K’Andre Miller would be the most productive rookie for the New York Rangers 11 games into the 2020-2021 campaign but here we are. Miller was taken 22nd overall in 2018 and has been a staple alongside Jacob Trouba as the team’s shut down pair right out of training camp. The outcasting of Tony DeAngelo should only leave more minutes for Miller to absorb as the season goes on. The 6-5 blueliner has been used in game-closing situations and on the penalty kill and has one goal and three assists to go along with a plus-7 rating.
Alexis Lafreniere on the other hand has continued to struggle in his first season with the team tallying only one goal through his first 11 games in the NHL (albeit it was an overtime game-winner). It has been tough for the 2020 first overall selection to find some chemistry with linemates as he has been featured on each of the team’s top three lines thus far.
The upside for Lafreniere remains through the roof from a fantasy standpoint and the Rangers have several other elite players who have underperformed, making Lafreniere a prime buy-low trade target in fantasy leagues. Miller on the other hand has quickly become a serviceable multicategory D-man who will provide owners with hits, blocks, and some offensive upside.
Kirill the Thrill
After a long-awaited NHL debut, the Minnesota Wild have found what looks to be a future star in the making. Kirill Kaprizov has injected a much-needed dose of skill, speed, and swagger into a lineup notorious for being dull and stale, without much pop to their game.
The 23-year-old still categorizes as a rookie despite his age and his experience in the KHL has proven to be a major asset. He leads all rookies in points (9) and assists (3) through his first 11 games at the NHL level. The winger has been shuffled up and down the team’s lineup, but his offensive ability makes him a lock on the team’s first powerplay unit. The Russian has come exactly as advertised so far this season and his arrow is pointing straight up. He has the chance to develop into a premier goal scorer in this league and is the early-season favorite to take home the Calder Trophy.
While no one wants to see injuries or COVID run ramped in the league, we can be a little selfish and enjoy all these high flying rookies night in and night out. Make sure to keep up to date on the latest prospect ramblings and reach out to me with your latest fantasy questions and comments on Twitter @JulianMongillo!