Since the last time every NHL franchise was active, we had one of the best draft classes in quite some time. Led by Chicago Blackhawks phenom Connor Bedard, we’re set to see a handful of the top prospects head straight to the NHL – something that isn’t always a given these days.
Most teams will have at least one rookie featuring in their full-time lineups in 2023-24. Some others might call one or two up throughout the year who might not hit it big for another year or two.
With that in mind, here’s one NHL rookie to watch on every NHL team this season:
Anaheim Ducks: Leo Carlsson, C
Carlsson might not command the same attention some of the other top 2023 NHL Draft prospects attracted, but he’s NHL-ready. The 6-foot-3 center is a difficult player to contain, and after an impressive season playing against men between Orebro and Sweden at the IIHF’s World Championship, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Carlsson this season. He can hang with quality talent, and with the Ducks hoping to take big steps forward, Carlsson has the chance to be the team’s No. 1 center. He’s injured right now, with no clear outlook about what’s next, though.
Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C
He’s ready. Cooley has already dazzled in his brief NHL tenure, scoring his first goal in a Coyotes uniform in Australia, of all places. One of the top contenders for the Calder Trophy, Cooley had a dominant season in the NCAA and decided it was better for him to make a run at Arizona’s top six instead. Barrett Hayton is the Coyotes’ No. 1 center for now, but how long until Cooley changes that? Look for Cooley to have a mega season.
Boston Bruins: John Beecher, C
Beecher is never going to be a big-time producer. He wasn’t at the University of Michigan, and he certainly wasn’t with Providence. But what he does bring is size, strength and the ability to play an effective two-way game. On an inexpensive entry-level contract, Beecher could be exactly what the team needs in the bottom six.