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Ottawa, ON • Canada • 21 Years Old • Male
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Ryan Nugent Hopkins
(Edmonton Oilers)

Ryan Nugent Hopkins is this year’s first overall and like the many players taken at first overall before him, he plans on making the team right away. In fact, the last first overall pick not to start in the NHL the season that he was drafted was Erik Johnson in 2006. History of course is on his side, but do the Edmonton Oilers really have to rush their newest prized possession or should they send him back to the WHL for another year of seasoning? Like a lot of the other prospects on this list Nugent Hopkins dominated the WHL this season but unlike many of them he has yet to participate in the annual World Junior Championship tournament. The Edmonton Oilers will give Nugent Hopkins every chance to make the team and will probably keep him around till the 9th game of the regular season before making a decision on his future. If Ryan demonstrates good chemistry with future line mates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, the Oilers will have to make some trades to free up some space for him at center by trading one of their current centers. If the Oilers judge that he isn’t ready for a full season in the pro-ranks they will not hesitate to send him back to junior thanks to the number of NHL-calibre centers they already have under contract.

Brayden Schenn
(Philadelphia Flyers)

Has proved that he is too good to play with players his own age, and had a successful 7 game stint with the Manchester Monarchs last year where he put up 3 goals and 4 assists. Unfortunately Schenn struggled during the 8 games (2 points) he started with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. The Kings’ brass opted to send the young center back to Brandon of the WHL (2GP,1G, 3A, 4 points) and was then dealt to the Saskatoon Blades and put up 53 points in 27 games (21 goals, 32 assists). Schenn took the World Junior Hockey Championships by storm last December and proved to the world why he is considered the best prospect not currently playing in the NHL, recording 18 points in 7 games (8 goals and 10 assists). Schenn will be given every opportunity to make the Flyers roster this season after being part of the blockbuster trade involving former Flyers captain Mike Richards but will have to deal with the scrutiny that comes with playing in a large hockey market and replacing the teams beloved captain.

Sean Couturier
(Philadelphia Flyers)

Another star prospect who could crack the Philadelphia Flyers roster as soon as this October. Unfortunately for Couturier, the Flyers are deep at the center position so he might have to bide his time as a winger if he makes the team. The hot debate concerning Couturier is that the Flyers can always return him to his junior team because he still has a season of eligibility. But would this be beneficial for the player or could this affect his development. Couturier has already led the Quebec league in scoring with 96 points in 2009-2010. He also got to play for the Canadian National Team (under-20) at last year’s World Junior Hockey Championships where he put up 3 points in 7 games (2 goals, 1 assist). Keep in mind that Couturier was the only draft eligible player on the team. He also won the President’s cup with the Voltigeurs in 2009 and participated in the Memorial Cup tournament. Personally I think a return to QMJHL would set Couturier back in his development but I see the Flyers taking a good, long look at him and let him play at least the first 9 games of the season (before his entry-level contract kicks in) and then make a decision based on his play against actual NHL players.

David Rundblad
(Ottawa Senators)

David Rundblad was drafted by the St-Louis 17th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and was later acquired by the Senators for the 16th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Rundblad had the third highest point total in the Swedish Elite League last year as a defenseman. It was the second highest point total by a defenseman in the league’s history behind David Petrasek who scored 53 points in 2009-2010. Rundblad should start the season with the Senators this season even though they have a lot of NHL-ready defencemen. I expect him to climb the depth chart fairly quickly and to end up on the second pairing by the end of the season. He should also see his time on the power play increase as the season wares on.

Ryan Johansen
(Columbus Blue Jackets)

Once considered the heir to the throne that is being Rick Nash’s future playmaking center, Ryan Johansen will not start the season on the Jackets’ first line this season. He will however make the team and possibly start the season on the third line. There is an upside and a downside to this situation. The upside: Thanks to the acquisition of Jeff Carter, Ryan Johansen will not have to be the face of the franchise upon his first game for Columbus. During his first season he will learn what it takes to be a pro without the burden of having to put up superstar numbers. The downside: Johansen will have to learn to play a more defensive role than the one everyone was expecting of him before the Jeff Carter trade. All in all, I think Johansen will have a good rookie season and might get a chance at the first line center position if Carter and Nash can’t find any chemistry together. He will probably finish the season as the second line center.

10 rookies to watch during training camp (Part 2) to come later this week.

Mathieu Latourelle

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September 20, 2011 4:53 PM ET | Delete
I was hoping for maybe more of a "dark horse" rookie watch instead of more hype on the existing household names.
September 21, 2011 10:50 PM ET | Delete
A-Mar: Lander
September 22, 2011 1:52 AM ET | Delete
Thanks. I've got another: Matt Frattin.
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