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Behind The Numbers

10 rookies in position to succeed

Jokiharju on top pair for Blackhawks; Comtois, Steel making impact for Ducks, statistics show

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor goes behind the numbers to assess which rookies should earn a full-time roster spot beyond a nine-game trial. A player on an entry-level contract can skate in nine games before teams must decide whether to send him to the American Hockey League or junior hockey and delay the start of their contract to the following season. Based on time on ice, lineup trends, special teams play and 5-on-5 statistics, the following 10 rookies should play a full season in the NHL. The rookie skaters have been ranked in alphabetical order.


Dennis Cholowski, DET -- The Detroit Red Wings defenseman ranks first in ice time per game (22:10) and 11th in power-play time on ice (5:19) among NHL rookies at the position. He's playing on the top defense pair with Danny DeKeyser in place of Mike Green, who could miss a month with an illness. If the high ice time continues, Cholowski could rank among other notable rookie defensemen over the past three seasons: Charlie McAvoy (22:09; 2017-18), Ivan Provorov (21:59; 2016-17) and Zach Werenski (20:55; 2016-17.

Worth noting: Cholowski is day to day with an upper-body injury.

Max Comtois, ANA -- With forwards Ondrej Kase (concussion), Ryan Getzlaf (lower body), Corey Perry (knee) and Patrick Eaves (upper body) dealing with injuries for the Anaheim Ducks, Comtois is skating in the top six alongside wing Jakob Silfverberg. Comtois ranks sixth among rookie forwards in time on ice per game (15:13), second in hits per game (4.0) and tied for second in even-strength goals (2).

Video: ANA@SJS: Comtois scores on first shot in NHL debut

Warren Foegele, CAR -- The Carolina Hurricanes wing ranks first among rookies in 5-on-5 shot attempts (48) and is second among rookie forwards in time on ice per game (16:05). Foegele leads all rookies in shorthanded time on ice (8:23) and is skating on the second line with center Jordan Staal and wing Justin Williams at even strength.

Miro Heiskanen, DAL -- The Dallas Stars defenseman ranks second behind Cholowski in time on ice per game among rookies (21:26). Heiskanen ranks fifth in shorthanded time on ice (2:29) and fourth in power-play time on ice (2:29) among rookies at the position. He's skating on the second pair with Marc Methot, who was Erik Karlsson's defense partner for more than five seasons with the Ottawa Senators.

Henri Jokiharju, CHI -- The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman ranks fourth among rookies in points per 60 (5.09; min 3 games) and tied for third in shots on goal (10). Jokiharju ranks sixth among rookies in time on ice per game (19:39) playing on the first pair with Duncan Keith. He also practiced on the first power-play unit on Tuesday, signifying that he could take on an expanded special teams role.

Elias Pettersson, VAN -- The Vancouver Canucks center is leading all rookies in points (6) and points per 60 (8.0). He's seen his ice time increase in three straight games from 9:46 in his NHL debut to 16:05 in his second game and 19:10 in his third game. He is skating on Vancouver's top power-play unit and ranks first among rookies in power-play time on ice per game (3:35).

Video: CGY@VAN: Pettersson nets first NHL goal after prank

Sam Steel, ANA -- The Ducks center leads all rookie forwards in time on ice per game (16:47) and in defensive zone face-off wins (9). Steel has no points through the first week of the NHL season but his 5-on-5 zone starts percentage (41.38) shows that he is starting in the defensive zone nearly 60% of his shifts, an indicator that he is relied upon to play a two-way game.

Antti Suomela, SJS -- The San Jose Sharks center leads rookie skaters in 5-on-5 shot attempts percentage with 78.05 and is third among all NHL skaters in shot attempts (46). He ranks fifth in face-off wins among rookies (14) and tied for third in shots on goal (10). If Suomela continues to drive possession, he could see an increase in ice time from his 10:56 per game.

Andrei Svechnikov, CAR -- The Hurricanes right wing is one of three rookie forwards to be playing at a point per game pace or better (minimum three games). He ranks tied for fifth in shots on goal (7), fifth in goals per 60 (2.51) and sixth in assists per 60 (2.51) among rookie forwards. Svechnikov is producing despite playing 11:56 per game (38th among rookies).

Brady Tkachuk, OTT -- The Ottawa Senators left wing missed the first two games of the season with a lower-body injury. Despite missing time, he ranks first in goals per 60 (4.24) and fourth in 5-on-5 shot attempts (10) among rookie forwards. He ranks 10th among rookie forwards in time on ice per game (14:09) and is skating on the top line with center Matt Duchene and wing Mikkel Boedker.

Video: PHI@OTT: Tkachuk tallies first two goals of career

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