2009 NHL Youthful Impact
Total Pro Sports – This years NHL youth movement may prove to have had the greatest impact when the season is all said and done. The surprising fact is that Steven Stamkos is not leading the way in terms of value to his teams roster, that honorable mention can be credited to Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
There are a number of players that are also having great first years, so let us take a look at some of them
1. Steve Mason (Columbus Blue Jackets) – Mason is enjoying a career year thus far, and is a front runner for the Calder trophy, with Martin Brodeur out for an extended period of time he may have a chance at the Vezina trophy as well. Steve Mason has carried the team on his shoulders, as injuries have depleted the Blue Jackets roster, they have stayed competitive thanks to Mason’s great goaltending.
His numbers are pretty good considering he is playing in Columbus, here is how they stack up, a 16-10-1 record with a 1.61GAA and .936 save percentage. He is making approximately 26 saves per contest and has 6 shutouts already this season, very impressive.
2. Bryan Little (Atlanta Thrashers) – Bryan Little may be a name that few people have heard before, the reason is because he plays for the Atlanta Thrashers. He is quietly having a terrific season, through 42 games, Little has notched 20 goals and 13 assists, he has a -2 rating which is not bad considering where he plays, 7 of those goals have come on the power play and he has tallied 3 game winning goals. He is reaping the benefits of playing alongside Slava Kozlov and should have an increased role next season.
3. Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins) – The 6-4, 220lb power forward is one of the main reasons the Boston Bruins sit atop the Eastern Conference. His feisty play coupled with his nose for the net allows him to blend in nicely on a line with Phil Kessell. Lucic has 11 goals, 15 assists and is a +16 already this season, he also has 84 penalty minutes and is not afraid to drop the gloves when his team is in need of a momentum swing. This guy will be a fixture on the wing for a long time for the Bruins, his game really marvels that of Boston legend Cam Neely.
4. (St. Louis Blues) – We knew this kid was going to be something special when he played for Sweden at the World Juniors, who knew it would have happened so quickly. Berglund is your prototypical center, has has size, speed and a set of great hands, he has maturity beyond his years as this is evident in his +13 rating. He has contributed an even 14 goals and 14 assists on arguably the worst team in the league. The Blues are grateful to have selected Berglund and he will be their No.1 center for years to come.
5. Kris Versteeg (Chicago Blackhawks) – Kris Versteeg is flying right below everyones radar, the Balckhawks have a plethera of young talent and Versteeg is right up there among them. In 41 games this year he has registered 13 goals, 4 on the power play, 2 short handed and 2 game winners. He has 23 helpers and a +16 rating, that gives him 36 points on the season second on the team behind only Patrick Kane. That is quite impressive considering Chicago is a playoff contender and may possibly make a Stanley Cup run.