It's the best time of year!
By Jeff Angus, Dobber Hockey
As we continue Fantasy Week here at RLD, we take a look at five rookies that will make the greatest fantasy impact in their first NHL season.
1. Ryan Johansen
The do-it-all center will have a shot at playing top-six minutes right away in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have rushed prospects in the past, but Johansen has nothing left to prove at the WHL level. Jeff Carter and Antoine Vermette will center the top two lines, but both can play on the wing. Even if Johansen ends up on line three, he’ll have some good wingers to play with, including the likes of Matt Calvert and R.J. Umberger. He is one of the best prospects to own in keeper leagues, as his offensive potential is sky high, and the Blue Jackets would love nothing more than to finally develop their own top line center.
2. Brayden Schenn
The Flyers got great value back from the Kings when they traded away Mike Richards, and Schenn was the centerpiece. Like Johansen, he has nothing left to prove at the WHL level. Again, like Johansen, he will probably start off on the third line, but should still get to play with some pretty good wingers. He’s a fantastic playmaker who will always be among the league leaders in assists once he hits his prime.
3. David Rundblad
Rundblad had a season to remember in 2010-11, amassing over 50 points in the Swedish Elite League. He’s big, mobile, extremely confident with the puck and he loves to make plays in the offensive zone. Ottawa fans are extremely excited at the potential power play duo of Rundblad and fellow Swede Erik Karlsson for the next decade. Sergei Gonchar is in the mix, and he’ll want to prove he has some hockey left to play. Rundblad probably won’t see top unit power play time unless Gonchar struggles again, but he should still find a way to produce as an NHL rookie.
4. Gabriel Landeskog
The most NHL ready forward from the 2011 draft class is looking to solidify a top-six spot with the Avalanche at training camp next month. He’s never going to win any Art Ross trophies, but Landeskog is a very smart two-way player with great skills and a lot of intangibles. His competition for ice time on the left side in Colorado is almost non-existent. Expect him to make the team and rank among the rookie scoring leaders in 2011-12.
5. Adam Larsson
Like Landeskog, Larsson is an NHL ready prospect. The Devils lacked puck movers on the back end last season and made zero changes during free agency. Larsson will be expected to step in and play important offensive minutes right off the bat. He’s been playing against men in Sweden for the past few years and has looked dominant against his peers at various World Junior tournaments.
Photos credit: Getty Images
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