Rookies to Watch in 05-06

Because of the lock-out, several notable rookies that would have debued last “season” have had a further year of development. This means that the race for the Calder Trophy, normally a race between a one-year-lucky goalie and a couple of 40 point scorers, could become just as exciting as that for the Hart, Norris, Vezina, or Art Ross. Here’s a preview in my view of the rookie class of 2005-06. An “A” means they should be able to win it, no matter what their supporting cast, a “B” means it will take luck, and a “C” means that they might not make they’re debut, or else they’ll be a darkhorse, but shouldn’t be counted out.“A”

Kari Lehtonen:

The most hyped goalie making a debut as a starter, it’s between him a Fleury as the goalie candidate, atleast one of them will be nominated.

Jeff Carter

The leading scorer of the AHL champs, as a rookie a few days out of junior, except big things, unless Sharp, Primeau, Handzus, and Forsberg block his way.

Sidney Crosby

The player with the biggest chance and undebatably the person expected to win the Calder, older teammates taking up roster spots might stunt this expectation.

Marc-André Fleury

Still a rookie by a few games, he might even be able to beat Crosby as rookie of the year, and has the outside edge over Lehtonen.

Carlo Colaiacovo

The second best defenseman in the rookie class, if he makes the top-4 he could legitimately be a finalist, at least.

Kyle Wellwood

One of the best rookies in the AHL two years ago, and the 4th leading scorer this year, his chance rests with good line-mates, but even without them he’s a threat.

Alexander Ovechkin

Most people would but him up against Crosby as the only two rookies with a shot at the Calder, but I think he’ll need abit of development before reaching his potential and his subpar team won’t give him much support

Dion Phaneuf

The best defenseman of the class, he probably would have won it in 2004-05 if there’d been a season.

Mikko Koivu

Minnesota’s slowly hyped and developed centre, if he plays with Gaborik and plays like his brother he could put up really good numbers, especially if his play at the World Cup is any indication.

“B”

Brandon Coburn – Might get playing time

Zach Parise – Madden or Kozlov’s replacement, might take abit of time to adjust to the new Devil’s lack of talent.

Andrei Meszaros – It’s between him and Volchenkov to crack the top 4, if it’s him…watch out!

Mike Richards – Depth at centre will scar him from being in the A class, because he’s only 6th on the Flyers depth chart at centre. Doesn’t posses quite the skill as Carter.

Eric Fehr – The best player in the WHL last season could do decent if he plays with Ovechkin.

Ryan Getzlaf – A top 6 forward because of Anaheim’s lack of depth, especially at left wing, He might be a slow developper but he’s been one of the WHL’s best and most consistant players.

Dany Fritsche – Already played a game or two for Columbus, if he makes the team, imagine him between Nash and Zherdev. This London Knight could put up real good numbers just do to sheer star power among line-mates.

Niklas Kronwall – Niklas Lidstrom’s eventual replacement, Delmore, Lilja, Schneider, Lidstrom, and Chelios will make him last of the top-6, but if he plays well enough he could be #2 next year, given Schneider and Chelios retiring.

Jiri Hudler – It’s doubtful he’d make the team at Centre, but if he plays rightwing he could play alongside Datsyul and Zetterberg, or Yzerman and Shanahan, or Draper and Maltby. Either of the 3 pairs would give him a good season.

Dustin Brown – Still a rookie, he might have a decent season, but the Kings don’t have a history of fast-developping rookies.

“C” (Other Notable Rookies)

Jack Johnson, CAR

Cam Ward, CAR

Rostislav Olesz, FLO

Tomas Plekanec, MTL

Josef Balej, NYR

Hugh Jessiman, NYR

Al Montoya, NYR

Henrik Lundqvist, NYR

Brandon Bochensky, OTT (AHL Rookie of the Year)

Antero Niittymaki, PHI

Ryan Whitney, PIT

Alexander Steen, TOR

Miroslav Zalesak, WSH

Corey Perry, ANA

Milan Michalek, SJ

Jeff Woywitka, STL


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