The past several NHL seasons have shown that rookies can make an impact, and this year’s incoming class is generating a lot of attention, especially regarding European prospects. Rasmus Dahlin and Miro Heiskanen are highly touted defensemen. Forwards Elias Pettersson and Eeli Tolvanen had historic seasons in two of Europe’s top pro leagues, while Russian power winger Andrei Svechnikov had one of the best goal-scoring seasons by a draft eligible in the OHL over the past 10 years.
If you were looking for the NHL’s youth movement to be a fad, you’re out of luck.
Here’s a look at several prospects likely to make an impact as rookies, including their fantasy hockey outlooks.
Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres
It is only natural to expect big things for Dahlin, given the hype that has surrounded his name in the past year, but it isn’t a bad thing to temper expectations a little. On top of making the jump to the NHL, Dahlin has to manage the transition to North American ice. That said, Dahlin’s hockey sense is among his best attributes and a big reason I think he’s going to be able to make the transition rather seamlessly. He also had an unprecedented season in terms of point production as a U18 player, with 20 points in the Swedish Hockey League last year. In a lot of ways, he is a freak of nature.
Even knowing that, the Sabres probably won’t rush him into anything he isn’t ready for, and it might require some patience as he finds his NHL legs, as all young defensemen tend to take some time to adjust. I think his entry into the league can be a little bit more of a slow burn, but I have no doubt that he is only going to get better and better as the season progresses and he gets more comfortable. He has already shown in the preseason that he isn’t afraid to be himself.
Fantasy impact: Dahlin is sure to be selected in most leagues and is worth rostering right away, but just be patient if the points don’t come immediately.