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Several rookies off to solid starts

by Brian Compton
Some of the game's youngest stars have reached or are about to reach the 10-game mark in the NHL, and have passed their first test with flying colors.   

Despite being held off the scoresheet for four straight games, John Tavares -- who was selected first by the New York Islanders in the 2009 Entry Draft -- is fifth among rookie scorers with 3 goals and 4 assists in 10 contests.

Meanwhile, the League's leading rookie scorer resides just across the East River. New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto -- who had to fight for a roster spot in training camp -- has 4 goals and 8 assists in 12 games. Del Zotto was chosen in the first round (No. 20) of the 2008 Entry Draft.

It's not difficult to see why the Colorado Avalanche currently sit atop the Northwest Division -- not when they possess two of the League's top rookie scorers. Ryan O'Reilly, the team's second-round choice this year, is second in the NHL with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists). O'Reilly, who doesn't turn 19 until Feb. 7, already has a plus-10 rating.

Matt Duchene, who went third overall to Colorado in June and has drawn comparisons to his boyhood idol, Joe Sakic, has a goal and 5 assists in 11 games.

Evander Kane, who went right behind Duchene to the Atlanta Thrashers, is also off to a solid start. The 6-foot-2 forward has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 8 games, tying him with fellow rookies Niclas Bergfors (New Jersey), Tyler Myers (Buffalo) and Michael Grabner (Vancouver).

Other rookies off to fast starts include Stars forward Jamie Benn (3-5-8 in 11 games), Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (8 assists in 12 games), Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (1-6-7 in 7 games) and Rangers center Artem Anisimov (3-3-6 in 12 contests).
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