Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been very good early in the 2011-12 season, but he isn’t the only player from his draft class making an NHL splash. After the jump, a quick recap of the players selected in 2011 currently playing in the NHL.
1st overall: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Nobody in Edmonton needs a long write-up on the performance of Nugent-Hopkins; he’s been very good early, posting four goals and an assist over five games and averaging more than 17:00 per contest. Between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, he’s been one of the Oilers’ most effective offensive weapons in the early going.
2nd overall: Gabriel Landeskog
Colorado’s selection has also played very well, recording two goals and an assist through six games. His 13 hits is also the second-highest total on the team. He’s also played in all situations for the Avalanche, picking up a hair under 2:00 per game on both the power play and the penalty kill.
4th overall: Adam Larsson
Unlike the other players on this list, Adam Larsson doesn’t boast flashy offensive totals. Even so, he’s been really impressive. Larsson has been averaging more than 24:00 per night, the highest total of any defenseman on the team. According to the Devils’ blog In Lou We Trust, Larsson has a plus-8 scoring chance rating through four games – and while he’s been given a lot of time in the offensive zone, he’s also played against high-end players.
8th overall: Sean Couturier
One of the things that Sean Couturier was known for before he made his major-league debut was his penalty-killing. Even so, it is a rare thing for an 18-year old rookie to play major minutes on an NHL penalty kill. Couturier is one of the rare exceptions – he’s averaging 4:27 per game killing penalties for the Flyers. That’s not the only thing he’s done well, either; he’s been on the ice for more defensive zone faceoffs than any other forward on the team, and has a plus-4 rating and three points through five games.
Those four aren’t the only 2011 draft picks to make their NHL debut this season, but others have struggled. Mika Zibanejad, the sixth overall pick, is having a hard time of it in Ottawa – he has yet to hit the 15:00 mark in any game, has one assist and no goals in six contests as well as a minus-3 rating (despite cushy minutes, the Senators have been heavily outshot and outscored while he’s been on the ice). In Winnipeg, Mark Scheifele has been unable to generate offense despite playing carefully sheltered minutes – including three offensive zone starts for every defensive zone start – and the Jets have also been heavily outshot with him on the ice. Finally, in Chicago,43rd overall pick Brandon Saad surprised many by making the team out of camp, but was sent down after two games.
Even with the disappointing results posted by that trio, the 2011 class is off to a strong start as a group.