A new NHL season brings hope and excitement to teams and fans alike. Potential stars of the future are part of that.
The Canadian Press takes a look at six rookies to watch in 2022-23.
OWEN POWER, BUFFALO SABRES
The six-foot-six, 213-pound defenceman from Mississauga, Ont., has a small NHL sample size, playing just eight games and recording two goals and an assist for Buffalo last season after leaving the University of Michigan. The top pick at the 2021 NHL draft, who has played on big stages like the world juniors and Winter Olympics, will get a chance against the game’s best at age 19.
MASON MCTAVISH, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Similar to his Olympic teammate, McTavish played just nine games and produced two goals and one assist last season in Anaheim. But the 19-year-old centre, who is the betting favourite to win the Calder Trophy with some bookmakers, has real momentum going for himself. The third pick in 2021 was the leading scorer at the 2022 world juniors, recording eight goals and nine assists in seven games. With the investment into its future, Anaheim hopes the six-foot, 213-pound McTavish is a star in the making.
MATTY BENIERS, SEATTLE KRAKEN
The second overall pick in last year’s draft, Beniers was easily the most productive of his fellow draft mates in the running for this year’s Calder Trophy. The 19-year-old scored three goals and notched six assists, with four of his points coming on the power play, in just 10 games last season. For a Seattle team that recorded the fifth-lowest goal total last season, that production could provide a much-needed boost as the team looks to take a step forward this year by way of its young talent.
SHANE WRIGHT, SEATTLE KRAKEN
Wright fell to the fourth pick of this summer’s draft despite being the projected No. 1 overall selection for most of his junior career. Wright will have every opportunity to prove why he was thought to be the consensus top draft choice on a Kraken team that will rely on its young talent to produce. The 18-year-old is coming off a 2021-2022 season where he recorded 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL.
MARCO ROSSI, MINNESOTA WILD
It’s been quite a road to play in the NHL for the ninth overall pick in 2020. Rossi, 21, played just one game for the ZSC Lions in Switzerland where he was loaned to until training camp began. When the 2020-2021 season’s start was pushed to January due to the pandemic, he returned to his native Austria to rest after complications from COVID-19. In 2021-2022, he played just two games for Minnesota in between AHL stints where he recorded 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in 63 games. Now, the five-foot-nine centre is looking to prove himself on the fifth-highest scoring team from last season.
JURAJ SLAFKOVSKY, MONTREAL CANADIENS
Things haven’t always gone smoothly since being taken with the top pick of the 2022 draft. After the Canadiens passed on Wright, Slafkovsky has taken some time to get accustomed to the NHL game. The 18-year-old Slovak, who won bronze at the Beijing Olympics earlier this year, got a shot to play on the top line during pre-season play this week. Head coach Martin St. Louis acknowledged he's shown more confidence, but Slafkovsky knows he has some work to do.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2022.
Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press