As an update to my previous article, I’ll take a look at some other featured rookies this year and their path to the NHL.
Drafted 4th overall by the Maple Leafs in the 2015 NHL (National Hockey League) Draft, the Ontario native is only part of the tremendous rookie group on the Leafs this season. Marner was offered a scholarship from the University of Michigan, but was also drafted by the London Knights in the 2013 OHL (Ontario Hockey League) Priority Selection. After choosing to play for the Knights, he recorded 59 points in 64 games during his 2013 OHL rookie season. The following season, Marner started to make a name for himself by putting up an outstanding 126 points in only 63 games, coming in second only to Dylan Strome in scoring. That summer, Marner was drafted by the Leafs and signed an ELC (Entry Level Contract) but did not make the team. He was sent back to the Knights to play another season with current NHL rookie linemates Matthew Tkachuk and Christian Dvorak. Yet again, he finished second in scoring with an impressive 116 points in 57 games. Marner led the Knights to victories in both the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup, being named tournament MVP. Today, Marner is fitting in nicely with the Maple Leafs and has 37 points in 44 games this season.
Aho is a native of Finland who started his career in Liiga with Kärpät in 2013 playing on the U20 (under 20 years of age) Junior Liiga team for 44 games and 59 points. During the following 2014 season, he split time between the Junior U20 Liiga team with 10 points in 10 games and the Liiga team where he scored 11 points in 27 games. Aho was on loan to Ässät for a few games that season as well. In the 2015 NHL Draft, Aho went 35th overall in the second round to the Carolina Hurricanes, but continued to play on Kärpät. In the 2015-16 season, Aho continued to be a great player, making the all-star team, and averaging one point per game in 45 games. This season, he’s been one of Carolina’s top forwards with 12 goals and 13 assists in the 46 games he has played.
A very tall and speedy winger, Mantha was drafted 76th overall by the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the 2010 QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) Entry Draft, spending most of the season on his AAA team. The 2011 season was his first complete season playing 63 games and ending the season with 51 points. The next two seasons were where he really broke out. In his 2012 season, he scored a league leading 50 goals and 89 total points. The following 2013 season, Mantha excelled even more by scoring 57 goals and 63 assists leading the league in scoring. He was named top scorer, QMJHL MVP, and CHL (Canadian Hockey League) player of the year. Mantha was drafted 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings but spent the 2014 & 2015 season on the Grand Rapids Griffins scoring 33 points and 45 points respectively. Mantha was called up to the Red Wings in early November and has since been very effective on the team with 11 goals and 11 assists so far this season.
Vesey was originally drafted 66th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators, but instead, decided to attend Harvard University and play for their hockey team. Vesey excelled on the Harvard team where he was nominated for the Hobey Baker award twice, finally winning the award in his senior year. In his junior year, he scored 58 points with 32 goals in 37 games. At the end of his college hockey career, he averaged 1.13 PPG with 80 goals and 64 assists totaling 144 points in 128 games played. Although being initially drafted by the team, Vesey is not currently with the Predators. The Buffalo Sabres traded for his rights in June 2016 where he denied the deal, thus becoming an UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent). Vesey finally signed with the New York Rangers in August and quickly became a nice goal scoring fit on the team with his 19 points in 46 games.
Hartman grew up in a Chicago suburb loving the team he currently plays on: the Chicago Blackhawks. Starting in 2010, Hartman played on the US Development Team for two seasons, scoring an even amount of goals and assists for 76 points in 115 games. While he can put up points, Hartman receives a lot of penalty minutes no matter where he plays. He totaled 228 in his time in the USDP (U.S. Development Program). After his time on the Development Team, he moved on to join the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL. In his first season, Hartman totaled 60 points and 120 PIM in 56 games. The following 2013 season with the Whalers, he scored 53 points and dropped down to 91 PIM’s. Taken as the last pick in the first round, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Hartman in the 2013 NHL Draft. In 2014, Hartman continued to rack up plenty of penalty minutes as well as points in the AHL (American Hockey League) on the Rockford IceHogs with 120 PIM and 37 points in 69 games. Next season was similar, with 129 PIM and 35 points in 61 games. Hartman started this 2016-2017 season with the Blackhawks and has improved on his tempered play giving him 20 PIM and 19 points in 44 games.
Andrew Ostrosky is the “Global Puck” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @HockeyGuyFromSL.