Updated: Nov 11
Out with the old, and in with the new. Hockey fans see new players and faces each season, and this season isn't an exception. If you're interested in rookies, you've probably heard of Chicago Blackhawks star rookie Connor Bedard — unless you've been living under a rock. Bedard and nine other rookies should be on your radar for the 2023-24 NHL season. Here's my list of ten rookies who will make an impact this season. 10. William Eklund This isn't the San Jose Sharks' season. But if there's a bright spot in San Jose, it's William Eklund, a Sharks prospect forward who plays center and left wing. Eklund, now 21, was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by the San Jose Sharks. He reportedly recovered from left shoulder surgery and probably won't let anything hold him back. He scored his first NHL goal on March 14, 2023. He had a spectacular season with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda in 2022-23, where he recorded 41 points (17 points, 24 assists) in 54 games. He's ready for the NHL. 9. Matthew Knies The Toronto Maple Leafs will be all right. It's just a matter of how far they'll go in the playoffs. The same could be said for Maple Leafs prospect forward Matthew Knies. Knies, now 21, was drafted with the 57th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll likely split his time with the Maple Leafs and the AHL affiliate, Toronto Marlies, but he'll remain a regular for the former. He's excellent at creating space down low. 8. Logan Cooley The Arizona Coyotes are poised to be an improved team this season and beyond. The Arizona Coyotes were right to draft prospect center Logan Cooley with the third overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Cooley, now 19, spent just one season at the University of Minnesota in 2022-23 before signing an entry-level, three-year, $13.35 million contract with the Coyotes and avoiding a sophomore season at Minnesota. He recorded 60 points (22 goals and 38 assists) in 39 games in his freshman season, and he'll likely do the same in the NHL, but with a lowly plus-minus rating.
7. Brandt Clarke The Los Angeles Kings drafted prospect defenseman Brandt Clarke with the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Clarke, now 20, barely played with the Kings last season as he was a healthy scratch for the most part. Clarke's currently playing for the AHL's Ontario Reign, but he's a force on the ice. The Los Angeles Kings are an offensive-minded team, and Clarke is an offensive-minded defenseman. Clarke may not become the next Drew Doughty, but he can lead a top power-play unit this season. 6. Leo Carlsson The new-look Anaheim Ducks have a lot to look forward to, including prospect center Leo Carlsson. Carlsson, now 18, was drafted second overall in the 2023 NHL Draft by the Ducks. Since the Anaheim Ducks' roster consists of four veteran forwards, there's a chance we won't see and hear a lot about Carlsson this season. However, Carlsson seems like a forward in the Ducks' future plans and deserves as many minutes and power-play unit spots as possible. 5. Tyson Foerster You may not care about the Philadelphia Flyers, but you may want to keep an eye on prospect center and right wing, Tyson Foerster. Foerster, now 21, has seven points (three goals and four assists) in eight games, as of November 7, 2023. Foerster was drafted 23rd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2020 NHL Draft. Foerster's current NHL career hasn't been set in stone, as he spent some time with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but he could be the next big thing for the Flyers. His offensive talent can lead to a full-time role on one of the Flyers' forward lines. 4. Devon Levi The Buffalo Sabres are an NHL team on the rise and prospect goaltender Devon Levi appears to be in the team's short- and long-term plans. Levi, 21, was drafted 212th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL Draft. Levi had just seven games under his belt last season, but the back-to-back Mike Richter award winner was the top goaltender in college men's ice hockey history. Levi's one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and more than likely, he'll deliver to the Sabres so they can give other Eastern Conference teams a run for their money. 3. Adam Fantilli The Columbus Blue Jackets are on and off to start the 2023-24 NHL season. However, Blue Jackets prospect center Adam Fantilli is a glimmer of hope. Fantilli, now 19, was drafted third overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2023 NHL Draft. Fantilli's lone season at the University of Michigan was one of the best freshman seasons in NCAA history as the Nobleton, Ont. native recorded 65 points (30 goals and 35 assists) in 36 games. He'll likely make an immediate impact on the Blue Jackets as a three-zone contributor. 2. Luke Hughes The New Jersey Devils are dealing with the injury bug at the moment. But, if there's a silver lining, Devils prospect Luke Hughes is one of the team's top six rearguards. Hughes, now 20, was drafted fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft. Hughes had 39 points (17 goals and 22 assists) in 41 games and 48 points (10 goals and 38 assists) in 39 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons at the University of Michigan, respectively. Hughes is reportedly facing high hopes and maintaining the family legacy, but I think he'll be all right. His even-strength production is a high that can balance his low of little to no power-play time. 1. Connor Bedard The Chicago Blackhawks will likely finish as one of the NHL's worst teams this season. But, if you're a Blackhawks fan, you're probably hyped about prospect center Connor Bedard. Bedard, now 18, is arguably one of the greatest men's ice hockey prospects of his generation. Bedard was drafted first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft. Bedard's junior season with the WHL's Regina Pats saw a whopping 143 points (71 goals and 72 assists) in 57 games in 2022-23. He may be undersized at 5'10" and 185 lbs, but he can shoot the puck well and his freshman campaign in the NHL can help him receive first-line minutes in the near future.