A first look at the year's rooks, draft prospects 

October, 21, 2009

On Wednesdays, I'm going to focus my attention on the league's top rookies and the prospects for the 2010 NHL draft. Today, I'll give you five freshmen who've sprinted out to strong starts, as well as five draft-eligibles currently skating in North America who are keeping amateur scouts busy.

Calder Watch

Michael Del Zotto, D, New York Rangers
The 19-year-old Del Zotto is the latest young defenseman to emerge from the talented class of 2008 (selected 20th overall). He earned his way onto the Rangers' roster with an impressive training camp. A strong skater with excellent puck skills, the Ontario native has been a big early-season help to a power play that struggled to score last year. Through Tuesday's games, he led all rookies with four goals and nine points. The Rangers' coaching staff has been careful not to overexpose their kid defenseman, keeping him to a reasonable average ice time of 15:25. So far, he has not looked out of place in the NHL.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.