By Drew Cameron,
Sports Business Writer
As the NHL season continues to gain viewership as its season gets moving many fans must familiarize themselves with the new young faces in their teams’ lineup. Top draft picks Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers, first overall pick) and Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres, second overall pick) have not disappointed to this point. Most teams have eight to ten games under their belt at this point and have a good idea of which rookies will remain on their roster and which ones will be sent down to further develop their talents.
The ten game mark is important for every organization and coach. Once a player is in the lineup for 10 games his three-year entry level contract kicks in. Players may be sent down to a franchise’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, or sent to their respective junior hockey team before the 10 game mark with the most ease. If sent to a junior program the player must then play out the season at that level and cannot be recalled until their junior season comes to a conclusion. Of course players can be sent down at any time but teams often want a player to truly be prepared to thrive in the big leagues before allowing their entry level contract to commence.
As of Oct. 27, 10 players remained on NHL rosters who were approaching the 10 game milestone where their contract would automatically start. Of these 10 players, most are expected to remain with their NHL team past the 10 game point in order to make immediate contributions to their respective organizations. A whopping total of 65 first time skaters and six rookie goaltenders took the ice already this season. 25 rookie skaters have played more than seven games. Some of these rookies have already made their NHL debuts, debut but are considered rookies for statistical purposes.
The 10 game mark is just one deadline for these rookies however, the 40 game mark is also significant. Once 40 games are played the rookie will move one year nearer to becoming a free agent. If fewer than 40 games are played the countdown to free agency remains unchanged.
Many people are calling the 2015-2016 campaign the year of the rookie. Since the 2013 lockout the game has rapidly grown younger and quicker in nature. This season is no exception and many talented rookies are on the doorstep of the NHL ready to make a name for themselves. This year’s Calder Trophy race is definitely shaping up to be one of the most interesting one in the last decade as McDavid, Eichel, and Max Domi (Arizona Coyotes) have already made big impacts on this young season. The coming weeks will be very indicative of the Calder Trophy race, and whether certain rookies will continue to live up to the hype surrounding their play.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 3rd print edition.
Contact Drew at