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Rookie watch: Hughes, Makar among power-play point leaders

Defensemen for Canucks, Avalanche excelling on man-advantage

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

The play of several high-profile rookies, including forwards Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks of the 2019 NHL Draft, respectively, is one of the major storylines of the 2019-20 season. Each Monday, will examine topics related to this season's class in the Rookie Watch.

This week, the top six NHL rookies in power-play points:


1. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: Hughes leads all NHL rookies with 17 power-play points (three goals, 14 assists) and average ice time on the power-play (3:56). He's third among rookies with 32 points (four goals, 28 assists) and first in average ice time (21:27) in 45 games. The Canucks are fifth in the NHL with a 24.1 percent power-play efficiency (41-for-170) and control 53.5 percent of all shots attempted when Hughes is on the ice 5-on-5.

"He's come a long way in learning how to be a top guy on the power play and move the puck and when to shoot and when to pass," Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. "It's way different than college; way less room and guys are way more responsible in their structure. We told him it's not going to be easy and he's definitely doing a good job kind of hanging out in the middle of the ice and making good decisions."

Video: CHI@VAN: Hughes hammers Miller one-timer home for PPG


2. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: Makar is tied for second with Buffalo Sabres forward Victor Olofsson among NHL rookies with 14 power-play points (three goals, 11 assists) in 37 games. He's second in power-play time on ice per game (3:38) and sixth in power-play points per 60 minutes (6.24) among rookies with at least 10 games played. Colorado controls 50.5 percent of all shots attempted with Makar on the ice at 5-on-5.

"Cale's got great deception on the blue line and he's a threat to score from the middle of the ice," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "He's been doing a really good job at selecting his shots (on the power play) and knowing when he can get into the middle of the ice and into a scoring position. If we have traffic in front of the net, he's getting pucks down there."

Video: STL@COL: Makar wrists home power-play goal


3. Victor Olofsson, F, Buffalo Sabres: Olofsson, who is out the next 4-5 weeks with a lower-body injury, leads all rookies with nine power-play goals and is tied for second with 14 power-play points in 42 games. Olofsson ranks first in average ice time on the power play (3:26) among rookie forwards.


4. Adam Fox, D, New York Rangers: The right-hand shot ranks third among NHL rookies with nine power-play assists and is tied with teammate Kaapo Kakko for third with 10 power-play points. He is third among rookie defensemen in power-play shots on goal (16) and average ice time on the power play (2:14). Fox is tied with Carson Soucy of the Minnesota Wild for second among rookie defensemen in goals (five) and ranks third in assists (19) and points (24) in 43 games. He's the first Rangers rookie defenseman to score at least 24 points through the first 44 games of a season since Brian Leetch in 1988-89 (45 points).

Video: NYR@NJD: Fox scores PPG in 1st period


5. Kaapo Kakko, F, New York Rangers: The No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft is second among rookie forwards with 10 power-play points (two goals, eight assists), first with six power-play primary assists and third with 19 power-play shots in 40 games. 


6. Nick Suzuki, F, Montreal Canadiens: Selected by the Vegas Golden Knights with the No. 13 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and sent to the Canadiens as part of the Max Pacioretty trade Sept. 10, 2018, Suzuki is sixth among NHL rookies with nine power-play points (four goals, five assists). He averages 15:31 in ice time and is fourth among NHL rookies with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 46 games. 

Video: MTL@OTT: Suzuki whips home PPG to kick off scoring


Head to Head comparison

(Games through Jan. 11)

Kakko leads all 18-year-old NHL players with seven goals and is tied for the lead in points (16) with Jack Hughes, who had missed the previous five games with an upper-body injury before getting an assist against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday


Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

Games: 37

G-A-Pts: 6-11-17

Shots on goal: 79

Avg. ice time: 15:58

Telling stat: The Devils control 48.9 percent of all shots attempted with Hughes on the ice at even strength.


Kaapo Kakko, RW, New York Rangers

Games: 40

G-A-Pts: 7-9-16

Shots on goal: 63

Avg. ice time: 15:05

Telling stat: He is tied for 10th among NHL rookies with Alex Nylander (Chicago Blackhawks), Eric Robinson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Suzuki with five even-strength goals.  


Morreale's Calder Trophy frontrunners

1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: Makar is first among NHL rookie defenseman with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) in 37 games.

2. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: One of four players to win the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas fan vote Saturday for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, Hughes is second among NHL rookie defensemen with 31 points (four goals, 27 assists) in 44 games. 

3. Victor Olofsson, F, Buffalo Sabres: Olofsson is first among rookies with 35 points, nine power-play goals and 99 shots on goal in 42 games.

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