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Draft Guide

Struggling Young Players

by Brian Rosenbaum
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Which rookie or second-year player has been the biggest disappointment to this point?

Brian Rosenbaum: For me, it is Marko Dano. Hyped as the major part of the Brandon Saad deal, he was supposed to play on the Blackhawks' top line alongside Jonthan Toews and Marian Hossa. Instead, he was shipped out to the AHL just before the end of the pre-season and has had a couple of uneventful callups since which yielded only two points in 13 games. Dano is not ready to be a productive NHL player at this time and he has not earned Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville's trust. He's been a major disappointment thus far. 
Ryan Dadoun: Is it fair to say Connor McDavid?  I'm not trying to be hard on him for having a broken clavicle, but there's no question that him suffering a long-term injury is my biggest disappointment so far this season.  I wanted him to be the exciting new player the Edmonton Oilers and, to an extent, the league needs and it was looking like he would be a player capable of living up to the hype.  He still might, but he hasn't played since Nov. 3, preventing what might have been an interesting Calder Trophy race between the young phenom and the KHL-turned-NHL star in Artemi Panarin.

Corey Abbott: McDavid's injury has certainly been disappointing, but his play on the ice has been special.  He was more than living up to expectations prior to getting injured.  I had David Pastrnak penciled in as a sleeper candidate after a solid rookie campaign.  Getting a chance to fulfill his potential with David Krejci as a linemate was tantalizing, but he didn't do much offensively with Boston before he fractured his foot.  He hasn't played in the NHL since Oct. 31, but just returned to the action in the AHL.  Pastrnak has been loaned to the Czech Republic for the World Junior Championship in Finland and when he comes back I'll be keeping a close eye on him.  

Michael Finewax: Pastrnak sure has been a disappointment. I've been a bit disappointed in the play of Sam Bennett.  He was highly touted last season and when he finally returned from surgery he was outstanding in the playoffs.  This year he got off to a nice start but has only one assist in his last 12 games. I thought the Flames might send him to the World Juniors to jump start his confidence but apparently not.

Ryan Dadoun: I had high hopes for Bennett as well.  I'm still hoping that he turns things around in the second half, although I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to bet on that.  Thus far we've focused on rookies or players that played too much in 2014-15 to qualify for this season's Calder Trophy, but still didn't have a full campaign in the NHL under their belt when October rolled around.  And there's a reason for that I felt was worth highlighting: This hasn't been a season where we've seen much in the way of sophomore slumps. Three of the top four rookie scoring leaders from last season (Johnny GaudreauMark Stone, and Mike Hoffman) are on pace to do even better this season.  The exception there is Filip Forsberg, but it's hard to be too hard on him when he's bounced back this month with 11 points in 12 games. Things have been similarly rosy when it comes to sophomore goalies looking to build off of a strong rookie campaign, but there is a noteworthy exception in Michael Hutchinson.  His 2.89 GAA and .906 save percentage in 16 contests has left plenty to be desire.

Corey Abbott: From this year's rookie crop, I thought Jack Eichel and Nikolaj Ehlers would be making bigger impacts on the Sabres and Jets, respectively.  I wouldn't label Eichel as a disappointment exactly, but I didn't think he would struggle this much to maintain offensive consistency.  Ehlers has been in a funk since he had a strong start to the season and he has been dropped down the depth chart as a result.  I'm still high on both of their futures, though.  I also believe Eichel will pick it up in the second half.
Michael Finewax: I don't think Eichel has been a disappointment at all. He is going to be a superstar and his four point effort this week against Boston is just the tip of the iceberg. I was disappointed in Daniel Spring but from a Penguins point of view. He was drafted 45th overall in June, made the team, and then was a healthy scratch too many times.  They should have given him a taste of the NHL and quickly send him back to Juniors. As nice as it is to stay in the NHL, he would have been better served in the QMJHL.
Brian Rosenbaum: This was the season I thought Ryan Strome could become a star. After registering 50 points in 81 games in 2014-15, his first full NHL season, a 60-point plus campaign seemed to be well within his reach. Instead he has managed to register only 11 points in 24 games and had to be demoted to the AHL for a stretch as he was not generating enough scoring chances according to Islander coach Jack Capuano

Brian Rosenbaum
Brian Rosenbaum is the Senior Hockey Editor of Rotoworld.com. He's run the hockey coverage since its inception in 2000.