The NHL has become a playground for prospects to step in and take on substantial roles with their teams. The 2019-20 rookie class looks unlikely to change that.
Here's a look at the 10 rookies most likely to make big splashes with their respective teams, along with five more who are a little more under-the-radar but could be sleepers in a seemingly deep first-year class.
1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche
My early Calder Trophy prediction is Makar. It's not just because he was one of the most dominant collegiate defensemen I've seen since I started covering the sport. It's not just because he looked great in his 10-game playoff stint with the Avs, in which he registered six points in his first NHL action. It's largely because I can't think of a better fit between a team and a prospect than Makar and Colorado.
He plays the game at a high pace, thanks to explosive skating and elite hockey sense. He passes well and expertly surveys the ice. And as he showed in his 10 playoff games, he is more than prepared for NHL physicality and speed.