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Rookies hit the ground running
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - San Jose Sharks 19-year-old rookie forward Tomas Hertl had a hat trick in just his third career game Tuesday against the New York Rangers, but it was his fourth goal that will gain him the most recognition.

It's a play I can't really do justice in writing, but let's just say Hertl was skating from left to right and, when directly in front of goalie Martin Biron, tapped the puck backwards through his legs and shot it around his left leg into the upper-left corner of the net.

In his first three career games, Hertl, the No. 17 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, has six goals, seven points, 13 SOG and a +5 differential.

Amazingly, he leads the rookie scoring race by just two points.

That's because Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames -- the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft -- has three goals, two assists and 12 SOG in his first four games.

Meanwhile, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche has picked up four assists in his first three games to help the Avs to a surprising 3-0-0 record, and No. 2 overall pick Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers has one goal, one assist and seven SOG in his first three games.

Once Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones, the 2013 No. 4 overall pick, gets going, this has a chance to be the best rookie class since 2006-07, when Evgeni Malkin had 85 points, Paul Stastny 78 and Anze Kopitar 61.

However, fantasy owners shouldn't get carried away with these fast starts.

We saw plenty of rookies hit the ground running in 2012-13 -- Vladimir Tarasenko had 10 points in his first eight games, Justin Schultz had five in his first four, Cory Conacher had 12 in his first seven and Damien Brunner had 16 in his first 21. None finished in the top five in rookie scoring.

Only one rookie from 2008-09 to 2011-12 reached 60 points in a season -- Carolina's Jeff Skinner in 2010-11 -- and during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, leaders Nail Yakupov and Jonathan Huberdeau both finished on pace for 53 points per 82 games.

That doesn't mean this class won't be different, it just means that if another owner offers you proven fantasy stars for your rookies, it would be wise to pull the trigger.

If you can only pull mid-level veteran talent in return, however, don't rush to deal them.

The race for the Calder Trophy should be fierce.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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