The Toronto Maple Leafs are in Winnipeg on Wednesday night to visit the Jets in a battle of two young teams trying to take a big step this season. It’s the first matchup between the top two picks of the 2016 NHL Draft, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.
However, Laine and Matthews are far from the only two rookies in the game; 11 of the 40 players dressed are rookie NHLers. The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle called it “The Calder Bowl.”
League-wide, 592 players have played in at least one game this season, and 11 per cent (67 players) of them are rookies. The NHL defines rookies as players under the age of 26 who have played less than 25 games the prior season, or more than six games in each of the two preceding seasons.
The NHL has been getting younger year-over-year, for three reasons: rookies are cheap, fast, and skilled. With the salary cap not going up as much as expected, and the game faster than ever, rookies are more valuable than ever.
Last year, 226 of the 898 players who appeared in at least one game were rookies. That’s a full one-quarter of the NHL.
Here’s a look at the rookies on each NHL roster: