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, NHL.com will examine topics related to this season's class in the Rookie Watch.
Dominik Kubalik of the Chicago Blackhawks was having one of the most productive seasons by a rookie forward in recent history before the NHL season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
This week, a look at the six highest even-strength goal scorers among NHL rookie forwards in a season since 1999-2000:
1. Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs (32 even-strength goals, 2016-17): The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Matthews led all rookies in goals (40), points (69) and shots on goal (279) and won the Calder Trophy for the 2016-17 season receiving 164 of 167 first-place votes. Since the 1999-2000 season, Matthews ranks tied with Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks, 2010-11) for second with eight game-winning goals among rookies. He was the first rookie to score 40 goals in a season since Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals had 52 in 2005-06 and set a Maple Leafs rookie record for goals and points in a season, surpassing Wendel Clark's 34 goals in 1985-86 and Peter Ihnacak's 66 points in 1982-83.
Video: MTL@TOR: Matthews tallies his 30th goal of the season
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals (28 even-strength goals, 2005-06): He became the fourth rookie in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Teemu Selanne (76, 1992-93), Mike Bossy (53, 1977-78) and Joe Nieuwendyk (51, 1987-88). The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin finished third in the League as a 20-year-old with 106 points (52 goals, 54 assists) and was first with 425 shots on goal in 81 games to win the Calder Trophy in 2005-06. He became the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 goals in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Feb. 22, joining Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).
3. Patrik Laine, RW, Winnipeg Jets (27 even-strength goals, 2016-17): The No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, Laine had 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games and was second among rookies in goals and points leading the Jets in goals. His 36 goals were the seventh-most in NHL history by an 18-year-old player, and the most since Sidney Crosby had 39 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005-06. Wayne Gretzky, who turned 19 halfway through the 1979-80 season, set the record with 51. Laine was second in even-strength goals and tied for first with William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) with nine power-play goals as a rookie.
Video: MIN@WPG: Laine roofs one-timer from the slot
4. Michael Grabner, LW, New York Islanders (26 even-strength goals, 2010-11): Selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 14 pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Grabner played 20 games with the Canucks in 2009-10 before he was traded to the Florida Panthers on June 25, 2010. He was waived prior to the season and claimed by the Islanders on Oct. 3, 2010 and finished third in the Calder Trophy voting in 2010-11 when he scored 52 points (34 goals, 18 assists) and finished second in the NHL with six shorthanded goals in 76 games.
Dominik Kubalik, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (26 even-strength goals, 2019-20): The 24-year-old leads NHL rookies with 30 goals, 38 even-strength points, 26 even-strength goals and 157 shots on goal and is third with 46 points in 68 games. Kubalik became the fifth player in Blackhawks history to score at least 30 goals as a rookie, and the first since Artemi Panarin did it in 2015-16. Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round (No. 191) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Kubalik was traded to the Blackhawks on Jan. 24, 2019.
Video: NYR@CHI: Kubalik scores on breakaway for second goal
Mike Hoffman, LW, Ottawa Senators (26 even-strength goals, 2014-15): The fifth-round pick (No. 130) by the Ottawa Senators in the 2009 NHL Draft, Hoffman had 48 points (27 goals, 21 assists) in 79 games as a rookie and finished sixth in the Calder Trophy voting. He led the Senators in goals in 2014-15 (27) and 2015-16 (29) and has scored at least 22 goals in each of his full six NHL seasons.
Head to Head comparison
Kubalik, Grabner and Hoffman are in a three-way tie for fourth place with 26 even-strength goals in a rookie season since 1999-2000. Grabner scored 34 goals in 2010-11 and Kubalik has 30 this season. Let's compare the statistics for Grabner and Kubalik in their rookie seasons this week.
Dominik Kubalik, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (2019-20)
Game-winning goals: 3
Shots on goal: 157
Points per game: 0.68
Telling stat: Has 38 even-strength points
Michael Grabner, LW, New York Islanders (2010-11)
Game-winning goals: 3
Shots on goal: 228
Points per game: 0.68
Telling stat: Had 41 even-strength points