This is one of the most exciting times of the year. This last week has been a roller coaster of emotions for all NHL hockey players, teams and their fans.
For some rookies it’s a dream come true, making the cut and now just waiting to play their first game in the NHL. For others, it’s a time of great disappointment, getting cut and sent down to affiliate leagues or sent abroad.
But as every athlete knows, most times in order to achieve victory one must first taste defeat. That being said, here are my top three surprising rookie cuts.
1. Forward William Nylander
Nylander was chosen by the Toronto Maple Leafs and made a very good first impression throughout training camp.
His speed is what really stood out in camp and throughout the team’s preseason campaign. Nylander did score a goal and accumulated assists in preseason. He could’ve easily been the fourth line centerman for the Leafs this year.
But at 18, Nonis and the Leafs decided that Nylander needed more time to improve his skills and become a stronger player. That philosophy is valid but he shouldn’t have to go all the way back to Sweden for that. Nylander should’ve been given a position on the Marlies.
Now he’s just going to continue playing on the larger ice surface in Sweden and get back to what he’s used too. He should be playing with the Marlies so he can get used to the smaller ice surface, faster pace and more intense, physical style of hockey.
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2. Forward Max Domi
Max Domi was given an entry level contract by the Arizona Coyotes.This kid had an extremely impressive resume coming into training camp.
He was one of the OHL’s top scorers last season. He has exceptional puck handling skills, knows how to score goals and isn’t afraid to shoot from anywhere. He seemed nervous at times and struggled but should have been given a chance.
Regardless, he’ll be a solid injury reserve option for the Coyotes this year and at least London Knights' fans will get to watch him score goals and carry their team to victory.
3. Forward Hunter Shinkaruk
This kid had a pretty impressive preseason campaign for the Vancouver Canucks. He scored two goals and accumulated two assists. He was quickly becoming a fan favorite as the center of the all-rookie line with Horvat and Jensen.
GM Trevor Linden was impressed with his stick handling ability, speed and shot. But with Horvat and Vey making the team, it seems Shinkaruk just missed the cut. However, he’ll be a fantastic call up for the Canucks if injuries occur. I’m confident fans will get to see him in a Canucks jersey again at some point this season.
These are three somewhat surprising cuts. However, I'm confident fans will see at least two of these players return to the NHL at some point this season.