Each week all through the 2020-21 season, we’re highlighting a handful of rookie performances and milestones from across the league.
Robertson seems to be able to problem for rookie scoring title
The Dallas Stars debuted a line Thursday evening in opposition to Tampa Bay so enjoyable and so productive that Stars author Saad Yousuf of The Athletic dubbed it the “SuperLine.”
The road was the results of head coach Rick Bowness placing his high three forwards collectively: Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and rookie Jason Robertson, who’s been a revelation in Dallas and will get severe Calder Trophy consideration as this season progresses.
So tremendous was this line that it produced three of Dallas’ objectives in a 4-3 win over the reigning Cup champs. The Lightning merely had no reply for the trio, which left the rink Thursday with a mixed eight photographs on purpose and eight particular person factors. Robertson registered a purpose and an help within the matchup, marking his third straight recreation with no less than one level.
In 25 video games this season, Robertson has tallied 5 objectives and 15 assists for 20 factors, which has him sitting second solely to Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov (27 factors) within the league’s rookie scoring race. Amongst his Dallas teammates, he has the second-most assists and third-most factors (tied in each classes with defenceman John Klingberg).
Maybe the funnest factor about Robertson’s recreation proper now’s you could see him getting increasingly more snug, shining brighter and brighter because the season goes on. Take the previous week, for instance, which noticed him common almost 20 minutes of ice time and put up 19 photographs over 5 video games — far more than throughout some other stretch.
Lots of his success is because of his plain chemistry with Hintz, with whom he is been paired so much this season. His rising confidence was evident Thursday evening, when the duo was joined by an elite veteran like Pavelski.
“In case you watch them, Roope is skating nicely and Robo [Robertson] has discovered his recreation and located his confidence with the puck and they’re sensible gamers,” Pavelski informed reporters following Thursday’s recreation (quote by way of Yousuf). “So it was simply inserting myself and maintaining.”
Smith has Devils poised for brilliant future
It hasn’t been a straightforward season for the New Jersey Devils, however there are brilliant days forward because of a younger core that is actually starting to blossom. An enormous a part of that’s defenceman Ty Smith. The 2018 first-rounder simply turned 21 on Wednesday and is celebrating his birthday week with 5 factors (all assists) in 5 video games, along with a present three-game level streak he’ll look to increase Friday in opposition to Washington.
He leads the Devils in assists (16) and ranks second in general factors (18 — only one shy of Pavel Zacha’s team-leading 19). The highest rookie rearguard within the league by a fairly large margin at this level, Smith is tied with Kaprizov of the Wild for essentially the most assists by a rookie, and is tied with Senators centre Josh Norris for the fourth-most factors.
Wahlstrom bringing spark to Islanders’ offence
Winners of three straight and eight of their final 10 video games, the New York Islanders are sitting atop the highly effective East Division and present no indicators of slowing. Whereas stable goaltending, shot suppression, a masterclass in teaching and lockdown defending are so usually their keys to victory, they have a rookie jump-starting issues on offence: Oliver Wahlstrom.
The 20-year-old bought 9 video games value of expertise final season, however in the end did not stick. This time, he is clearly right here to remain and a degree streak has him climbing up the rookie scoring race. A five-game level streak that started March 16 has seen him rating 4 objectives and add a pair of assists. That is really his second five-game level streak this season — he registered three objectives and three assists over a handful of video games from Feb. 22 to March 2.
Wahlstrom’s 9 objectives on the season marks the third-highest whole for NHL rookies proper now, and his 16 factors in 27 video games rank him sixth.
Sorokin retaining streak alive
After all, we can not speak concerning the Islanders with out additionally highlighting the efficiency of rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin. It is robust to face out amongst this robust crop of rookie netminders we’ve got this 12 months, however Sorokin is doing simply that along with his stellar win streak.
Contemplating the robust play of Semyon Varlamov (14-6-3, 2.20 GAA, .923 SV% in 23 begins), New York can afford to be conservative with Sorokin and set him up for fulfillment, and that strategy has clearly been working extremely nicely. After dropping his first three begins, all in January, the 25-year-old has put up eight consecutive wins, six of which have come this month as he sees increasingly more time within the blue paint.
Amongst rookie netminders with no less than 10 appearances, Sorokin has the perfect goals-against common (1.97) and second-best save proportion (.922).
The goalie with the perfect save proportion? He is over in Carolina…
Nedeljkovic emerges at proper time for Hurricanes
Between Kevin Lankinen in Chicago, Vitek Vanecek in Washington, and the Ottawa Senators’ rookies, we have had no scarcity of nice shock goaltending performances this season. At present within the midst of a exceptional run with the Carolina Hurricanes, we will formally add Alex Nedeljkovic to that record.
Whereas Nedeljkovic hasn’t precisely emerged out of nowhere — he is a second-rounder, in spite of everything — he is been within the Hurricanes’ system since 2014 and it felt unclear at instances if he would actually step into an NHL position. The 25-year-old had a mixed six appearances throughout three seasons previous to this one, and this time round he is actually wanting NHL-ready.
Twelve video games into his 2020-21 marketing campaign, Nedeljkovic has an 8-2-2 file, a 2.05 goals-against common, .929 save proportion, and two shutouts. He hasn’t misplaced in regulation all month (seven begins in March), and is rapidly climbing the leaderboard. That save proportion is the perfect amongst all rookie netminders with 10-plus begins this season.
After his eighth win Thursday evening, he is now needed in Columbus for theft:
The Hurricanes are wanting poised for a post-season run, and so they would possibly simply have the correct mixture within the crease this time round.
Senators’ Gustavsson the newest to grab the crease in Ottawa
In the case of unlikely heroes seizing the crease, the Ottawa Senators are principally writing the ebook on that. Following the unbelievable efficiency (and unlucky harm) of Joey Daccord earlier this month, the Senators introduced in one other rookie netminder: Filip Gustavsson. The 22-year-old bought his first profession NHL begin Monday in opposition to the Flames, and stopped 35 of 36 photographs for his first profession win.
Two nights later, he backstopped the Senators to yet one more victory over the Flames — once more, letting only a single puck previous him for an additional victory.
Can the rookie make it three?