- Neil Greenberg, NHL
Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers was the league's top rookie last season, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy with 14 goals and 17 assists while playing all 48 games. So far this season, he is only off slightly from that pace (four points in seven games). Fellow finalists Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens and Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks also have not missed a beat. Saad has five points in six games for the defending champions, while Gallagher is just shy of a point-per-game pace despite logging just 14:24 per night.
Other notable rookies from last season, such as Minnesota Wild blueliner Jonas Brodin, have also seen a spike in production. The 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft has two goals and three assists in seven games, and is skating 25:16 per night in all situations (2:24 on the power play and 2:20 shorthanded), second on the Wild behind franchise defenseman Ryan Suter (28:54).
Conventional wisdom suggests big rookie campaigns are often met with disappointment the following season, during the "sophomore slump." But is that actually true? As it turns out, a particular position is more affected by a second-season downturn than others.
Neil Greenberg analyzes whether the sophomore slump actually exists in the NHL. While it may not be the case for forwards, statistics back up the claim for defensemen.