Rookie Watch: Power, Sanderson among average ice time leaders

The impact of multiple rookies on the NHL is one of the main storylines for the 2022-23 season. Each week, will review topics related to this season’s class in Rookie Watch.

This week, a look at the top five rookie skaters with the most average time on the ice (minimum 15 games):

Owen PowerD, Buffalo Sabers: The No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft is first among rookies in average ice time (23:46) and equal-strength average time (20:42) in 32 games. The 20-year-old is one of three rookies (Jake Sanderson, Kaiden Guhlé) on average more than 20 minutes per game. Power has 12 points, is tied with Guhle for second among rookie defensemen in assists (12) and is fifth in blocked shots (42). Buffalo controls 54.2 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts while on the ice. Power missed four games with a lower-body injury in December but has two assists and a plus-3 rating in three games since returning Dec. 29.

Jake SandersonD, Ottawa Senators: Ranked second among rookies in average ice time (21:04) and first in average shorthanded time (3:01) in 37 games. He’s third among rookie defensemen in points (13), fourth in assists (11) and second in power-play points (six), behind the Minnesota Wild defenseman. Calen Addison (12). The 20-year-old is also second among rookies in blocked shots (63) and tied for fourth with 13 takeaways while playing alongside the 32-year-old. Travis Hamonic.

“There have been a lot of good things,” Sanderson told the Ottawa Sun. “Personally, for me, I would like to shoot the puck more, score more, but at the same time, I really want to defend well. There are elements of my game that I can change, but I’m pretty happy with the way things are going for me.”

Kaiden Guhle, D, Montreal Canadiens: The No. 16 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft is third in average ice time among rookies (20:46). He’s tied with Power for second among rookie defensemen in assists (12), second in points (14) and first in even-strength points (14) in 36 games. The Canadians had Guhle in a first couple role with a 29-year-old veteran Joel Edmundson, but the rookie suffered a lower-body injury in the third period against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 29 and will miss Montreal’s game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. He is first among NHL rookies in blocked shots (65) and takeouts (21), and second in hits (72).

Marcus BjorkD, Columbus Blue Jackets: The right-hander, who signed as a free agent on May 24, ranks fourth among rookies in average ice time (19:28) in 22 games. The 25-year-old has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and is seventh among rookies with 39 blocked shots. It is linked with Nick Perbix the Tampa Bay Lightning ranked eighth among rookie defensemen with 32 hits.

“He’s very calm,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “He’s at speed and it’s not a degrading thing. There’s no panic when there’s a mistake, that’s what I like. He settles down, comes back to structure and he’s strong (6-foot-4, 211 pounds).”

Jordan HarrisD, Canadians: The 22-year-old has played in 33 games and is fifth among NHL rookies in average on ice (18:29). Selected in the third round (71st overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft, Harris finally gets his chance after four seasons at Northeastern University. He scored one goal in 10 games when he signed after his final year in 2021-22, but he earned a top-four role next to Justin Barren. Harris is fourth in blocked shots (52) and tied for fourth in takeouts (13) among rookie defensemen.

“He plays very well, he defends himself well, he defends himself with his feet and his [stick]”, said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. “He can also be a bit physical. It’s rare that he’s not in a good position defensively, so he brings a bit of attack in transition. We talk a little less about Jordan, but he does his job.”

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