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Rookie Watch: Blocked-shot leaders

Roy of Kings, Bear of Oilers among best first-year players

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 blocked shots:

1. Matt Roy, D, Los Angeles Kings: The seventh-round pick (No. 194) in the 2015 NHL Draft has provided steady production in a top-four role. Roy (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and a plus-6 rating while averaging 17:16 of ice time in 41 games. The 24-year-old right-hand shot leads all NHL rookies with 62 blocked shots and is sixth with 59 hits. He split time between the Kings (25 games) and Ontario of the American Hockey League (45 games) last season before earning his fulltime role this season. The Kings control 56.8 percent of all shots attempted 5-on-5 when Roy is on the ice.

"I think I can play like that all the time," Roy told the Los Angeles Times. "It's just a constant stay and having beliefs myself. I always knew I could play like this."

2. Ethan Bear, D, Edmonton Oilers: The fifth-round pick (No. 124) in the 2015 NHL Draft ranks second among NHL rookies in average ice time (20:57) and has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and 53 shots on goal in 41 games. The 22-year-old (5-11, 197) ranks second among rookies and fourth on the Oilers with 53 blocked shots.

"He has been calm under pressure because he's skilled with the puck," Oilers assistant coach Jim Playfair told the Edmonton Sun. "He's shown he can get into a good defending position and by doing that, he is getting a greater awareness of where his outlets (passes) are. Then his offence comes from the defending."

3. Adam Fox, D, New York Rangers: The right-hand shot ranks third among rookie defensemen with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 38 games. Acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on April 30, Fox has eight power-play points and ranks third among rookies with 51 blocked shots.

"He's absolutely worth everything we gave up, and more," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "One of the things I've been impressed with Adam from the start was his commitment to playing defense and managing his offensive ability; knowing when to get involved offensively."

4. Dante Fabbro, D, Nashville Predators: The No. 17 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft has eight points (three goals, five assists) and 50 shots on goal in 38 games this season. He ranks fifth among rookies in average ice time (19:14) in a top-four role despite hardly getting much time on the power play. He is fourth among NHL rookies with 49 blocked shots.

5. John Marino, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: The 22-year-old ranks fourth among NHL rookies with 47 blocked shots while earning 20:03 of ice time in a top-4 role. He has 15 points (four goals, 13 assists), 52 shots on goal and a plus-15 rating in 36 games. Marino was selected by the Oilers in the sixth round (No. 154) of the 2015 NHL Draft and traded to the Penguins for a conditional pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on July 26.

6. Vladislav Gavrikov, D, Columbus Blue Jackets: The 6-3, 213-pound left-handed shot ranks sixth among rookies with 44 blocks. A sixth-round pick (No. 159) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Gavrikov has six points (four goals, two assists), 47 shots on goal and a plus-5 rating in 37 games.


Head to Head comparison

Hughes ended an 18-game goalless streak when he scored in a 7-1 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 23. Kaapo Kakko returned to the lineup on Friday after missing two games with a bruised left leg. He has six assists in his past 18 games.

Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

Games: 35

G-A-Pts: 6-10-16

Shots on goal: 75

Avg. ice time: 15:59

Telling stat: He ranks fifth among rookies in shots on goal.

Kaapo Kakko, RW, New York Rangers

Games: 34

G-A-Pts: 6-8-14

Shots on goal: 59

Avg. ice time: 15:17

Telling stat: He is tied for eighth with Alexandre Texier (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Kirby Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) in goals among rookies. 


Morreale's Calder Trophy frontrunners

1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: Makar returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the previous eight games with an upper-body injury. He ranks second among NHL rookies with 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 30 games. He is the fifth defenseman in NHL history to score at least 29 points through his first 30 games.

2. Victor Olofsson, F, Buffalos Sabres: Olofsson is first among rookies with 16 goals and 34 points, nine power-play goals and 97 shots on goal in 39 games. He ranks second among NHL rookies in even-strength points (20).

3. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: Ranks third among rookies with 27 points (three goals, 24 assists), is first in average ice time (21:17) and leads all rookies with 15 power-play points (two goals, 13 assists) in 38 games.

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