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Rookie watch: Top performers from 2017 Draft

Makar of Avalanche, Suzuki of Canadiens, Necas of Hurricanes among best in class

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com 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, NHL.com will examine topics related to this season's class in the Rookie Watch.

This week, a look at the top five NHL rookies selected in the 2017 NHL Draft:

 1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: The 21-year-old leads all NHL rookies selected in the 2017 NHL Draft with 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists), 28 even-strength points, 17 power-play points and four game-winning goals. Makar, the No. 4 selection, is also first in average ice time (20:55) and takeaways (32) and third in blocked shots (43) in 53 games.

"He has great deception on the blue line and he's a threat to score from the middle of the ice up," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "He's been doing a really good job at selecting his shots and knowing when he can get into the middle of the ice and into a scoring position or if we have traffic in front of the net."

Video: COL@OTT: Makar cranks home heavy one-timer for PPG

2. Nick Suzuki, F, Montreal Canadiens: The 20-year-old ranks second among players selected in the 2017 draft with 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) and 27 takeaways, and first with 116 shots on goal averaging 15:54 in ice time in 64 games. The Canadiens control 51.6 percent of all shots attempted with the No. 13 selection on the ice at 5-on-5.

Video: MTL@DET: Suzuki earns PPG on Weal's gorgeous feed

3. Martin Necas, F, Carolina Hurricanes: Selected with the No. 12 pick, the 21-year-old ranks third among players chosen in the 2017 draft with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) and 23 takeaways averaging 14:06 in ice time in 57 games.

Video: CAR@TOR: Necas roofs backhander home from the slot

4. Mario Ferraro, D, San Jose Sharks: Selected in the second round (No. 49), the left-handed shot is first among NHL rookies chosen in the 2017 draft with 104 hits and 46 blocked shots, third in games played (56) and fifth in average ice time (15:21). He has eight points (one goal, seven assists) and 51 shots on goal in 56 games.

"He's a guy who made the team out of training camp, strictly because of his tenacity, how aggressive he is, how he plays and how he practices and handles himself," Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. "He plays a responsible game for a guy that age (21) and never really spending too much time in the minors. He's an in-your-face kind of guy, takes time and space away down low, is physical, and he's a good puck mover so he's helped us all year."

5. Emil Bemstrom, F, Columbus Blue Jackets: The 20-year-old has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) and 80 shots on goal in 49 games. Chosen in the fourth round (No. 117), the right-hand shot ranks tied for eighth among 2017 rookie draftees with 44 hits and the Blue Jackets control 51.2 percent of all shots attempted with Bemstrom on the ice.

"My goal when I came over was to play in this league and now that I'm here, I have to prove myself more," Bemstrom said. "I think I'm getting scoring opportunities, but not scoring. I don't have that confidence like I had last season, but it will come if I keep going. When you start scoring goals and getting points, you become more comfortable and you just keep going after that."

 

Head to Head comparison

(Games through Feb. 23)

Makar and Quinn Hughes are separated by four points atop the rookie scoring race. Only two seasons in the NHL modern era (since 1943-44) have concluded with a defenseman leading all rookies in scoring (outright or tied): Bobby Orr (41 points in 61 games, 1966-67) and Brian Leetch (71 points in 68 games, 1988-89).

Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks

Games: 60

G-A-Pts: 8-41-49

Shots on goal: 114

Avg. ice time: 21:42

Telling stat: Hughes has 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) and 11 primary assists on the power play.

Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

Games: 53

G-A-Pts: 12-33-45

Shots on goal: 113

Avg. ice time: 20:55

Telling stat: Makar has 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) and eight primary assists on the power play.

 

Morreale's Calder Trophy frontrunners

1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: Makar leads all NHL rookie defensemen in points-per game (0.85) and game-winning goals (four) and the Avalanche control 52.2 percent of all shots attempted with him on the ice at 5-on-5.

2. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: Hughes, who has 49 points this season, had two assists in a 9-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday to become the second rookie defenseman in team history to have at least 40 assists in a single season (Dale Tallon, 42 assists, 1970-71). He also joined Bryan Berard (40 assists, New York Islanders, 1996-97), Janne Niinimaa (40, Philadelphia Flyers, 1996-97) and Nicklas Lidstrom (49, Detroit Red Wings, 1991-92) as the fourth rookie defenseman to achieve the feat in the past 30 years.

3. Dominik Kubalik, F, Chicago Blackhawks: The 24-year-old leads all NHL rookies with 26 goals and 33 even-strength points (23 goals, 10 assists) and is fifth with 39 points in 60 games. If he can reach 35 goals, it would be the third-most in a season by a Chicago rookie behind Steve Larmer in 1982-83 (43 goals in 80 games) and Darryl Sutter in 1980-81 (40 goals in 76 games).

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