Chicago Blackhawks’ Rookies: Past vs. Present

By Tony Gianares
CHICAGO - JULY 22: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks look on at the NHL Winter Classic 2009 press conference on July 22, 2008 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images for the NHL)
CHICAGO - JULY 22: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks look on at the NHL Winter Classic 2009 press conference on July 22, 2008 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images for the NHL) /
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Artemi Panarin

Let’s start with a recent rookie who most Blackhawks’ fans know and miss dearly, Artemi Panarin. I know the wounds are still fresh, sorry.

Panarin came over from Russia in 2015 and his presence was immediately felt. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) in 2015 and posted 77 points with an 8 ± in 80 games.

In 2 seasons, Panarin racked up 151 points (61G, 90A) with a 26 ± in 162 games with the Blackhawks.

Since then, he has taken the NHL by storm and earned himself a very hefty payday from the New York Rangers this offseason (7 years, $81.5 mil).

Alex DeBrincat

Believe it or not, Alex DeBrincat is now in his 3rd NHL season. Like Panarin, DeBrincat came into the NHL with guns blazing. In his 1st NHL season in 2017-18, he produced 52 points (28G, 24A) with a 6 ± rating in 82 games.

Along with those 52 points, DeBrincat also recorded 3 hat tricks and gave new meaning to Cat in the Hat.

Last season, Alex DeBrincat took his game to the next level and showed that he can be an elite scorer in the NHL. He posted career highs in just about every major offensive category. DeBrincat finished with 76 points (41G, 35A) and a 0 ± rating in 82 games.

The stats are obviously nice, but I can really appreciate the fact that he has not missed a game in two straight seasons. Let’s see how long he can keep this iron man streak going.

Jonathan Toews

Jonathan Toews’ body of work speaks for itself: 3 Stanley Cups, 8x All-Star, 1 Selke Trophy, 1 Conn Smythe trophy, and 1-time Mark Messier Leadership Award, etc.

Toews was impressive from the start. As a rookie back in 2007-08, he produced 54 points (24G, 30A) with an 11 ± rating in 64 games.

Since then, he has been the heart and soul of the Blackhawks and the city of Chicago. Just when you thought maybe he was slowing down, Toews went out and set career highs in multiple categories including goals (35), assists (46), points (81), TOI (1723), ATOI (21:00), and blocks (44). Keep in mind he did all of that as a 30-year-old in his 12th NHL season.

Patrick Kane

Where do I even start with Patrick Kane? Kane is already the best American-born hockey player and a living legend, especially around Chicago. He has the Stanley Cups, medals, various awards, and accolades to back it up.

The best part is that Kane is nowhere close to being done. He showed that last season, as he topped his 2015-16 MVP season by racking up 110 points (44G, 66A) with a rating in 81 games and making it look easy in his 12th NHL season. 30 truly never looked so good.

It comes as no surprise that Patrick Kane had a great rookie season as well. Kane started strong with 72 points (21G, 51A) and a -5 ± in 82 games.

Jeremy Roenick

Personally, I have a soft spot for Jeremy Roenick, as he and Chris Chelios were the two guys who really got me into hockey in the first place.

Just because I have a soft spot doesn’t mean he was soft when he broke into the NHL. It’s the exact opposite actually.

He started off strong in 1989-90 with a respectable 66 points (26G, 40A) with a 2 ± rating in 78 games. Roenick would finish 3rd in the Calder Trophy voting that season.

He is currently in the Top 10 of a few Blackhawks’ records. I always wonder what things would have been like if he didn’t get traded to Phoenix.

Eric Daze

If you’re looking for a blast from the past, look no further. Erik Daze was one of the few things that made it worth watching and following the Chicago Blackhawks in the late 90s.

He was one of my favorite players and I always wonder what could’ve been if it weren’t for his nagging injuries.

Back in 1995-96, Daze started his NHL career off strong by posting 53 points (30G, 23A) with a 16 ± in 80 games.

Eric Daze had a great career with the Blackhawks, as he posted eight consecutive 22+ goal seasons, including four 30+ goal seasons.

Denis Savard

Hall of Famer, Denis Savard had a brilliant NHL career. He started off hot with Chicago in 1980-81 by scoring 75 points (28G, 47A) with a 27 ± in 76 games. He never looked back after his rookie season.

Savard left his mark on the Blackhawks’ organization. In 13 seasons, he tallied a total of 1,096 points (377G, 719A) with a 104 ± rating in 881 games. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Steve Larmer

Of all the Chicago Blackhawks’ rookies, Steve Larmer probably had the best NHL debut of them all. He dominated right from the get-go.

Larmer scored seemingly at will, as he racked up a whopping 90 points (43G, 47A) with a 44 ± rating in 80 games.

He never scored less than 70 points in a full-time season with the Blackhawks. That’s one of the most dominant runs that I’m aware of. Steve Larmer is the gold standard when it comes to rookies in the NHL.

Honorable Mentions: Bobby Hull 47 points (13G, 34A) in 70GP, Eddie Olczyk 50 points (20G, 30A) in 70 GP