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Top 10 NHL Rookies To Watch 2023

Ranking the best NHL rookies as we enter the new year such as Matias Maccelli, Cole Perfetti, Matty Beniers and many more


By Fan Rankings | December 05, 2022 - 07:39 PM

As the National Hockey League season approaches its halfway point, it's time to take a look at the top rookie performers so far. This year's rookie class features a number of highly-touted prospects who have already made an impact on the league, and it will be interesting to see how they continue to develop as the season progresses.

Honorable Mention

Kaiden Guhle

Team: Montreal Canadiens

Before we get to the top 10, let's start with an honorable mention. Kaiden Guhle has shown flashes of brilliance in his first few months in the NHL, and while he just misses the cut for the top 10, he has had a solid rookie season for the Canadiens with 2 goals and 14 points in 36 games while playing an average of 20:46 per game and he is definitely a player to watch as the season goes on.

Top 10 NHL Rookies 2023 Rankings

10. Kent Johnson

Team: Columbus Blue Jackets

Despite limited ice time (13.47) and playing out of position, Johnson has shown impressive offensive skill and potential as a top-line player with 8 goals and 8 assists in 31 games.

His quick hands, playmaking vision, and edge work make him a standout among the rookie class.

While he still has room for improvement in his defensive game, it may be time for the Blue Jackets to consider moving him back to his natural position at center and allowing him to thrive offensively in a larger role.

9. John-Jason Peterka

Team: Buffalo Sabres

Peterka has consistently been a key contributor for the Sabres, using his speed and strong work ethic to create scoring opportunities and drive play.

He has been particularly effective on the forecheck and has consistently produced on the scoresheet, ranking among the top rookie scorers with 7 goals and 10 assists for a total of 17 points in 33 games.

8. Fabian Zetterlund

Team: New Jersey Devils

Fabian Zetterlund has quickly become a valuable contributor for the New Jersey Devils, scoring 14 points in 31 games.

The 23-year-old Swedish forward is known for his physical play and ability to excel in dirty areas, making him a necessary addition to the Devils' lineup. He has also shown strong finishing skills and the ability to dish the puck to his teammates. Playing alongside high-end talent like Nico Hischier has allowed Zetterlund to thrive and make a significant impact earning the Devils an impressive league position.

7. Shane Pinto

Team: Ottawa Senators

Shane Pinto has had a strong rookie season for the Ottawa Senators, with an impressive 10 goals in 35 games. Despite being originally slated as the team's third-line center, Pinto has shone as a catch-and-release shooter, particularly on the power play.

Despite a decrease in production following the injury of teammate Josh Norris, Pinto has continued to take a high number of shots and has demonstrated his skills in the face-off circle, winning over 55% of his draws.

Although he has struggled to contribute as a playmaker, Pinto's strong overall performance and ability to score goals have made him an important player for the Ottawa Senators.

6. Matias Maccelli

Team: Arizona Coyotes

Matias Maccelli, a rookie forward with the Arizona Coyotes, has impressed with his playmaking skills and strong puck-handling abilities, recording 22 points in 30 games. Finnish fourth-round draft pick has impressed with his playmaking skills and ability to find open ice on the ice.

The Arizona Coyotes have benefited from his contributions, particularly on the power play. Maccelli has shown laudable progress in his defensive play and handling of the puck.

5. Cole Perfetti

Team: Winnipeg Jets

Perfetti has been a key player for the Jets, contributing to the team's improved goal-scoring and plus-15 goal differential.

Despite his lack of speed, he has used his intelligence and quick reads to make an impact in the offensive zone, earning impressive 6 goals and 14 assists for a combined 20 points in 21 games.

Perfetti's strong work ethic and attention to detail have allowed him to retain a consistent spot in the top six and make impressive plays.

4. Owen Power

Team: Buffalo Sabres

Owen Power, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL draft, has impressed with the Buffalo Sabres this season.

Leading all rookies in ice time and ranking 29th among NHL defensemen with an average of 23:33 per game, Power has shown that he has the potential to be a dominant player on both ends of the ice.

His impressive ability to control play, excel in transition, and make accurate outlet passes (ranking him third among NHL defensemen in entry passes per game) has made him a valuable asset on the Sabres' defense. Power is a player to watch as the season continues.

3. Jake Sanderson

Team: Ottawa Senators

Jake Sanderson has been a standout rookie for the Ottawa Senators, playing a prominent role as a second-pairing defenseman.

The 20-year-old, selected fifth overall in the 2020 NHL draft, has demonstrated his skills as a talented defenseman, accumulating an average ice time of 21:02 and recording two goals, 11 assists, and a plus-minus of +3 in 35 games.

Sanderson has proven to be advanced beyond his years with the puck and has been one of the club's top defensemen this season, making him one of the top rooks.

2. Logan Thompson

Team: Vegas Golden Knights

Logan Thompson has excelled for the Vegas Golden Knights this season, taking over as the team's starting goaltender after Robin Lehner was ruled out due to hip surgery.

The 25-year-old netminder has posted a .916 save percentage and 2.59 goals-against average while leading all rookie goaltenders in games played and wins.

His strong play has helped the Golden Knights become one of the best defensive teams in the league and has put him in contention for the Calder Trophy.

Thompson's performances have been crucial in the team's push for a playoff spot and will be key to watch as the season continues.

1. Matty Beniers

Team: Seattle Kraken

Matty Beniers has shone for the Seattle Kraken in his rookie season, leading all NHL rookies in scoring with 25 points in 34 games.

The 20-year-old center has played a key role in the team's success, earning a significant role in the top six and becoming a top candidate for the Calder Trophy.

Beniers' high-tempo, determined style, and clinical finishing around the net have made him a standout performer, and his strong two-way play has helped the Kraken contend for a playoff spot and solidified his place as one of the top rookies in the league.

In conclusion, the 2021-22 NHL rookie class has been full of exciting and talented players who have made an immediate impact on their respective teams.

From standout defenseman Jake Sanderson to playmaking winger Matias Maccelli, these rookies have shown their potential and promise for the future of the league.

It will be exciting to see how they continue to develop and improve as the season progresses, and which players will rise to the top in the race for the Calder Trophy.

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