What happened to last season's rookies?
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In the 2013-14 hockey season, we've been treated to tremendous rookie campaigns from 18-year-old wunderkind Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and 23-year-old Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But what happened to last season's rookies? They've all disappeared off the fantasy radar.
While they weren't as impressive as MacKinnon or Palat have been this season, Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers and Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers still had very good years in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, posting 31 points apiece in 48 games.
Undrafted Cory Conacher finished third among rookies with 29 points in 47 games for the Lightning and Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad recorded 27 points in 46 games and the Montreal Canadiens duo of Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk had 28 and 27 points, respectively.
Highly touted defenseman Justin Schultz generated 27 points of his own for the Oilers.
This season, only two of those seven players has more than 32 points and none have more than 45.
It's been particularly rough sledding for Yakupov, who has accumulated just 11 goals, 13 assists (24 points) and a putrid -33 rating in 63 games. He's done for the season with a fractured ankle.
Calling that a "sophomore slump" doesn't quite cover it.
Huberdeau, the Calder Trophy winner last season, hasn't been much better. He has nine goals and 19 assists (28 points) in 67 contests.
Conacher had just 20 points in 60 games with Ottawa before being claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Sabres. He's played 16 games for the NHL's worst team and added six points to his total.
Galchenyuk and Schultz have delivered more points this season than they did as rookies, but not by much. Galchenyuk has played 16 more games this season but only has four more points and Schultz has skated in 24 more but only has five more.
Saad and Gallagher are the saving graces of the group, as they both have exceeded 40 points this season, but only Saad has produced points at a higher rate than last season.
This has been a trend since 2008-09. Just 15 players from who ranked in the top 10 in rookie scoring from 2008-09 to 2011-12 produced a higher point-per- game average the following season.
One of those 15 players was Steven Stamkos, who went from 46 points in 79 games as a rookie to 95 points in 82 games the following season.
The other 14 players had an average increase of 0.17 ppg in their second season.
You can add Saad, Jacob Silfverberg, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Killorn to the list of players who ranked in the top 10 in rookie scoring and increased their ppg average the following season.
Collectively, though, they've only had an increase of 0.07 ppg over what they averaged in 2012-13, or roughly six points per 82 games.
That's not enough to offset just how far the rest of the top 10 dropped off.
In 2014-15 NHL fantasy drafts, be wary of picking any sophomores not named MacKinnon.
04/09 16:38:47 ET