NHL’s top 2016/17 rookies recognized by league

There’s been so much activity in the NHL over the past few weeks that it may have been easy to miss some of the more important announcements. The league handed out its annual awards in Las Vegas recently and also announced the 2016/17 All-Rookie Team. The rookie team included all three players who were finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy this year as Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski made the team along with centre Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine.

Matthews’ Toronto teammate Mitch Marner also made the squad along with New York Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Voting for the All-Rookie Team and the annual awards was done by the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) when the regular season concluded.

Goaltender Matt Murray has already won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but this was his official rookie season. He posted a 32-10-4 record this year with a 92.3 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average. He also recorded four shutouts in his 49 games. He’s the first rookie goalie to win 30 games since 2010/11 when Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks achieved it. The 23-year-old Murray’s 32 wins were also a rookie record for the Penguins franchise.

Brady Skjei of the Rangers is probably the least-known member of the rookie squad. He was chosen with the 28th selection in the 2012 draft and the 23-year-old ranked second in scoring for rookie defenceman this season. He scored five goals and 34 assists in 80 games and was a plus-11. Skjei became the top-scoring Rangers rookie blueliner since Brian Leetch had 71 points in 1988/89.

Zach Werenski was the league’s top rookie defenceman this season as he scored 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points in Columbus. He played 78 games and was also the best rookie blueliner when it came to plus/minus as he was a plus-17. The 19-year-old was drafted eighth overall in 2015 and he’s now ranked sixth overall for points by a teenaged rookie defender in NHL history. He also set new franchise records for rookie points and assists in Columbus and his 47 points is ranked second ever for points by a blue Jackets defenceman.

Winger Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets was chosen second overall in the 2016 draft and he was ranked second in rookie scoring last season with 36 goals and 28 assists for points in his 73 outings. His goals and points totals were rookie records for the Jets franchise. Laine led all rookies with a 17.6 shooting percentage and tied for power play goals with nine. He was top-10 in the league when it came to game-winning goals, shots on goal, and power-play assists and points. He also became the first player in league history to score three hat-tricks before turning 19 years old.

Mitch Marner was drafted fourth overall by Toronto in 2015 and the 20-year-old led all first-year players in assists with 42. He also had 19 goals for 61 points in 77 contests. Marner was top-10 in rookie power play assists, goals and points as well as goals, game-winning goals, points and shots on goal. He set a new Maple Leafs franchise record for assists by a rookie and with fellow first-year players William Nylander and Auston Matthews; Toronto became the second NHL team ever to have three rookies with at least 60 points in the same campaign.


Auston Matthews won the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year and was the first overall pick in the 2016 draft by Toronto. He finished the season with 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points in 82 games. He led all rookies in goals and points and his 40 goals ranked tied for second in league scoring. Matthews set a new franchise record for rookie goals and points and became the first NHL player in the modern era to score four times in his first league game. The 19-year-old led all rookies in game-winning goals with eight and shots on goal with 279. Matthews was top-10 for rookie power-play goals, assists and points as well as overall shooting percentage, and assists.