Surprise NHL breakouts? Zach Benson, Brock Faber and top 10 under-the-radar rookies

Hockey Fans Are in for a Treat with This Stacked NHL Rookie Class

Hockey fans are buzzing about the exceptional talent in this year’s NHL rookie class. While the spotlight is often on the big names, there are plenty of exciting up-and-coming players flying under the radar. In this article, we’ll shine a light on some of these under-the-radar rookies who are exceeding expectations or fighting to stay in the NHL. We’ll focus solely on skaters, excluding goaltenders. Let’s dive in.

1. Giovani Poitras

Age: 19
Draft status: No. 54 pick in 2022
Stats: 6 GP, 3G-1A-4P, 14:11 ATOI

How he’s looked: Giovani Poitras has made a significant impact in his first six games as a 19-year-old second-round pick. He has already scored three goals, including some highlight-reel plays. However, his patient and intelligent playmaking skills are what stand out the most. Poitras excels in tight quarters, maneuvering the puck with ease and always keeping his head up to assess his options. His cerebral style combined with his elusive edge work makes him a challenging opponent for defenders. It’s clear that Poitras is ready for the NHL, and if he continues this level of play, sending him back to junior won’t be an option for Boston.

2. Artem Mintyukov

Age: 19
Draft status: No. 10 pick in 2022
Stats: 6 GP, 1G-2A-3P, 19:26 ATOI

How he’s looked: Artem Mintyukov has been exceptional as a 19-year-old rookie defenseman for the Ducks. His four-way skating ability, defensive reach, and two-way skills make him a key player for Anaheim’s future. Mintyukov’s defensive sequence against Morgan Geekie showcases his talent and strength on the ice. In addition to his defensive prowess, he has also earned a spot on Anaheim’s top power-play unit due to his excellent puck skills and playmaking vision. Mintyukov’s play-driving numbers and overall performance validate his potential as a future star in the league.

3. Simon Faber

Age: 21
Draft status: No. 45 pick in 2020
Stats: 6 GP, 1G-1A-2P, 23:27 ATOI

How he’s looked: Simon Faber has exceeded expectations in his role as a defenseman for the Wild. Leading the team in average ice time per game and ranking eighth among all NHL defensemen in five-on-five ice time, Faber has proven himself as a top-four player. While his underlying numbers may appear rough in this small sample, they don’t reflect his true abilities. Faber’s sturdy defensive play, combined with confident and assertive puck movement, make him stand out on the ice. Minnesota has found a future linchpin in Faber, whose skating and size are the foundation of his impressive defensive skills.

4. Ridly Greig

Age: 21
Draft status: No. 28 pick in 2020
Stats: 6 GP, 1G-4A-5P, 15:16 ATOI

How he’s looked: Despite unexpected circumstances that propelled Ridly Greig to Ottawa’s second-line center position, he has excelled in a middle-six role. Greig’s five points, all accumulated at five-on-five, solidify his impact on the ice. His speed and skill make him a threat in the offensive zone, especially when facing tough defenders. Greig’s ability to make plays in high traffic and his agitator demeanor have caught the attention of both teammates and opponents. Whether he transitions to the wing or not, Greig has already proven himself as a valuable asset to Ottawa’s forward lines.

5. Jack Benson

Age: 18
Draft status: No. 13 pick in 2023
Stats: 5 GP, 0G-2A-2P, 13:20 ATOI

How he’s looked: At just 18 years old, Jack Benson’s hockey IQ and competitiveness have catapulted him into the NHL shortly after being drafted. Standing at 5-foot-9 and 163 pounds, Benson exemplifies that size isn’t the sole determinant of success. His sublime playmaking skills and defensive prowess make him a valuable asset to his team. Benson’s ability to disrupt plays and battle for loose pucks showcases his defensive capabilities. Although he has faced some setbacks recently, Benson’s overall performance displays his potential to be a key player for Buffalo in the future.


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