The NHL is becoming a younger league with each passing season. Players are making their debuts in their teen years and becoming superstars in their early 20’s. All hockey fans around the world love seeing players making their debuts and seeing them thrive and make an impact in the game. For all of those who have become jersey collectors or are fans of the game, the hottest jerseys on the shelves are those of the newest players in the league. If you are someone thinking about purchasing a jersey of one of this year’s rookies here are five players that are must-have jerseys for this year’s rookie class.
5. Ottawa Senators- Brady Tkachuk
Brady Tkachuk was drafted 4th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft out of Boston University. The American born winger followed in the footsteps of his dad Keith, and his brother Matthew by playing in the NHL. Through 16 games in his young career, Brady is a point per game player and he brings a gritty style of play to the Senators lineup. He earned the respect of hockey legend Don Cherry after his fight with Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings. Brady has the skill and the grit to his game that will make him a force in this league for a long time coming.
4. Dallas Stars- Miro Heiskanen
One of the biggest topics of the 2018 NHL offseason was where Erik Karlsson would end up. The Dallas Stars were one of the teams interested and the Senators asking price was their top prospect Miro Heiskanen. The Stars declined to go through with that trade route and kept their top prospect. That decision turned out to be a great one for the Stars. The 3rd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has been a staple at the blue line for the Stars. Coming out of the draft Miro drew comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. His puck moving skills are very similar to that of Letang. The Finnish born blueliner has a tremendous offensive upside and is magic with the puck. Heiskanen shined in his NHL debut and took all of two shifts in the NHL to wow the fans. Miro Heiskanen will become a household name and will have a phenomenal career down in Dallas.
3. Montreal Canadiens- Jesperi Kotkaniemi
The 3rd overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft became the first athlete born in the 2000s to play in a North American major professional league. Kotkaniemi is a Finnish born center that possesses a high hockey IQ with a dangerous shot. Going into the draft Kotkaniemi sat outside the top 10 on the draft boards for all the NHL insiders. When the Montreal Canadiens were on the clock with the 3rd pick, they knew they had something special in Kotkaniemi and in his first season, he is turning heads. The 18-year old drew comparisons to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings when he was drafted back in June and he is playing the role that Kopitar does for the Canadiens. The high hockey IQ that was seen by the scouts has come to show in the NHL game. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is going to be a staple down the middle for the Montreal Canadiens and is a great cornerstone to build a franchise around.
2. Buffalo Sabres- Rasmus Dahlin
The team that won the NHL Draft Lottery was getting the prized possession of Swedish born defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. The Buffalo Sabres won the draft lottery and welcome Dahlin with open arms. The Swedish born defenseman drew high praise from a fellow countryman in Detroit Red Wings legend Niklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom was asked about Dahlin and said, “He is better than what I was at that age.” One of the best defenseman in the history of the game saying that you are better than them is one of the best compliments a player can get. Dahlin has made a ginormous impact on the Buffalo Sabres this year. The Sabres have gone from the bottom of the league to the top in just one season. Dahlin has made nothing but highlight reel plays with and without the puck. Hockey fans around the world are in for a treat watching this once in a generation player night in and night out. If Dahlin can fulfill his prophecy he is on pace to have a hall of fame like career.
1. Vancouver Canucks- Elias Pettersson
Drawing the respect and comparisons to The Great One by The Great One himself is one heck of a way to start a career. Elias Pettersson was drafted 5th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Ever since making his NHL debut he has done nothing but score and put up points for the Canucks. Pettersson became the youngest player in NHL history to score 10 goals in his first 10 games. The highlights of Pettersson have been plentiful. Against the Red Wings he scored on a booming slap shot that drew comparisons to Wayne Gretzky’s famous slap shot goal and after getting tripped up he made a nice pass to set up teammate Brock Boeser for a goal while lying on his stomach. In the Canucks yearly skills competition Pettersson won the hardest shot completion with a shot of 99.4 MPH. The shot wowed fans all over the world due to the fact he still only weighs 176 lbs. Once he develops and becomes bigger, his shot can become lethal to opposing teams and goalies. Pettersson, in his very young NHL career, is close to a point per game player with 42 points in 38 games and is already being considered a lock for the Calder Trophy(Rookie of the Year). Vancouver has something very special in Pettersson and for hockey fans and jersey collectors around the world, his jersey is a must-have.