Bring in the rookies
What the Puck?!
With the start of another season just around the corner, National Hockey League training camps are in full swing. And with multiple young guns vying for just a few open spots on their team’s respective rosters, the competition amongst teammates will be tough to ignore.
Going into the 2011-12 season, most fans are curious to see which rookies will be able to make an immediate impact. First-overall pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is hoping to make the jump from juniors to the show in his first attempt. Although some fans may think sending Nugent-Hopkins back to the minors could be beneficial in the long run, it is doubtful the Edmonton Oilers will wait on him.
Being a bottom-basement team for the last two seasons, the Oilers do not really have anything to lose by bringing Nugent-Hopkins up to play with the big boys. In 2010, first-overall pick Taylor Hall was able to do quite well as an 18-year-old in the league – that is, before he made the stupid decision to fight and suffered a season-ending injury on March 3. Beyond his poor decision making and fighting abilities, however, Hall still managed to post 42 points in 65 games, including the most goals on the team with 22.
No one is expecting Nugent-Hopkins to come in and produce the same amount as Hall, but expecting him to compete is not a stretch for this 18-year-old in the least.
Other rookies looking to make an impression and finally make it to the NHL include Ryan Ellis of the Nashville Predators and former Regina Pat, Colten Teubert, whose rights now belong to the Oilers.
After being drafted 11th overall in 2009, Ellis was sent back to juniors, where he developed an incredibly impressive resume. Ellis was a member of the Windsor Spitfires from 2008-11 and won back-to-back Memorial Cups with the club in 2009 and 2010. Ellis was also a member of Team Canada for the last three years, winning one gold and two silver medals, respectfully. However, even with all of these credentials, Ellis has not been able to make the final Predators’ roster and is back to try again this year.
The only knock on Ellis is his size – he is listed as five-foot-nine and seems even smaller in person. His compact frame will make it difficult for him to battle with other defenceman in the league, nearly all of which are over six-feet. However, Ellis’ claim to fame is he can run a power play as good or better than any current NHL defenceman. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ellis was sent down to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, only to be pulled up for a few games throughout the season.
One player that both Regina residents and Ellis know well is Colten Teubert. Teubert and Ellis played together on Team Canada for two years, winning gold and silver medals together. Teubert was originally drafted 13th overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings, but has since been traded to the Edmonton Oilers since the Kings had a cornucopia of skilled defenceman. Teubert spent the better part of last year with the Oilers new AHL farm team: Oklahoma City Barons.
Teubert showcased his skills at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton this year, where prospects from five teams in the NHL went to war. However, Teubert was done the tournament early after having his nose broken in a fight.
Rookies will have a short time to make a case for themselves, as the regular season is set to start Oct 6.