There are so many intriguing stories set to play out over the 2009-2010 NHL season. One of the more interesting stories will be the rookie of the year race (let’s face it, we can’t spend another year waiting to see if Marian Hossa made the right choice by signing in Chicago).
While I don’t believe this summer’s draft was a strong as the year previous – the 2008 draft saw Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn among the top selections – 2009′s draft was still very strong. Of course John Tavares went first (did anyone seriously think the New York Islanders and Garth Snow would select anyone else?) and Matt Duchene’s dream came true by getting selected by his favorite childhood team (Colorado Avalanche). And Brian Burke didn’t get Brayden Schenn (the Los Angeles Kings drafted him). That was funny.
So who of that crop will be this year’s rookie of the year? Will it be a player drafted in a previous year? Fantana did a great job of previewing this season’s rookies. Without a doubt I think the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2nd overall pick Victor Hedman will be this year’s rookie of the year.
Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning
By far the most ‘NHL-ready’ player from 2009′s draft, Hedman is probably the biggest (new) defenseman set to debut in the NHL (Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres comes close). Aside from his experience in the Swedish Elite League, Hedman is set up to succeed with a team the Lightning can actually be competitive with this season. Having Hedman play with Mattias Ohlund will help his transition to North-American hockey as well as off ice adjustments. For Hedman to succeed goals need to be generated by the forwards and Tampa has a few stars – Vincent Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steve Stamkos. Add in players like Ryan Malone and you have a balanced attack. I think Hedman needs to develop a bigger mean streak (he should probably watch more videos of Chris Pronger in the playoffs) and if he can, his mobility, size and skill will all flourish. I like John Tavares but he’ll have to do everything on his own in New York. I don’t believe the Islanders have insulalated Tavares as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning have with Victor Hedman. The pressure will be significantly lower for Hedman than Tavares and the weaker Southeast division may play a little role in stat-padding for Hedman too.
Victor Hedman will be the NHL’s 2009-2010 rookie of the year. Who’s your pick?
Stay classy, NHL rookies.