Partly through design but mostly out of necessity, the Ottawa Senators found themselves with a pile of rookies in their lineup this season. Some played major roles, some played smaller roles. Some started hot and cooled off, some were steady and some only came on late in the year. With the number of quality young players playing in Binghamton and coming up through the system, there is plenty of reason for optimism in Sens land about the quality of the depth in the organization.
Today, I'm just curious, which rookie were you most impressed with this year?
Mika Zibanejad: For a kid that turned 20 in April and who had a year of development basically wasted last year, Mika Zibanejad was a very pleasant surprise this season. Despite joining the team a little late, Mika finished the season 4th in team scoring (8th in rookie scoring), and helped anchor a solid second line during the regular season. He had his fair share of struggles in the playoffs, but overall, a strong season.
Jakob Silfverberg: Mika's partner in crime didn't have the Calder season some Silfverböners were hoping for, but he put up 19 solid points, including 10 goals (4th in the league for rookies). He was 4th in the NHL among rookie forwards, playing just over 16 minutes a night. He played over a minute per game on the penalty kill as well, showing himself to be a strong two-way force in his first season in the league.
Patrick Wiercioch: How about Patty? A guy who, when drafted, was looked at to be a solid contributor, but who had fallen off in recent years. He showed he can play. Putting up 19 points in 42 games (tied with Silfver for 9th in rookie scoring), Patty was 2nd in the league for rookie d-man scoring ahead of vaunted rookies like Dougie Hamilton and Jonas Brodin. He showed great chemistry with Sergei Gonchar that helped keep the team afloat in the Karlsson-less days. He didn't get time in the playoffs, but certainly a successful season from PW.
Eric Gryba: I know he's getting Adnan's vote. Gryba came in when Erik Karlsson went down with his injury. While he's certainly no EK, he played solidly alongside Marc Methot, and for a rookie who wasn't supposed to see time, he played against some very tough competition. He was 5th among rookie skaters in TOI/G, and was 5th in hits. He even chipped in 6 points offensively including the first two goals of his career. Interesting to see what the future holds for Gryba.
Robin Lehner: So this guy is pretty good. A 2.20 GAA and a .936 SV% (both bests among rookie goalies), and he was something special in his 12 starts. Gone are the days of the hot-headed, cocky Lehner who believes the world should be given to him. In is a more mature young man who is learning, biding his time and making the most of his opportunities. With Craig Anderson playing like a world beater ahead of him, Lehner's time isn't now, but it isn't far off.
Hon. Mention: Andre Benoit, Cory Conacher, Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
So which one do you choose?
- Laugh at us because our predictions were (mostly) wrong! [SSS]
- Bobby churns out a wonderful piece looking at the many RFAs Bryan Murray will have to negotiate with this offseason. Seriously, this is really good. [SSS]
- A really excellent 15-20 minute interview with The Captain, Daniel Alfredsson. [Sens]
- Saying goodbye to The Tenderness. [WTYKY]
- Wanted: first line scorer for Jason Spezza. [SE]
- GIF-off over at RBM. [RBM]
- Really really really great work from Nichols on this Post-Mortem. [6thSens]