Playing for a disappointing Ottawa 67's team that was one of the weaker teams in the OHL last season, Calgary Flames rookie Sean Monahan was overshadowed by forwards such as Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Memorial Cup-winning Halifax Mooseheads heading into the 2013 NHL Draft.
The two young centers are off to fast starts in the NHL this season and share the top spot in the Hockey's Future staff's inaugural Calder Trophy poll for the 2013-14 season.
1. (tie) Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames
Drafted 6th overall (1st round) in 2013
Expected to be one of the league's doormats this year, the Flames have been competitive on a nightly basis and Monahan has been a big part of their early season success. Having just turned 19 and eligible to return to juniors for another season, Monahan scored six goals in his first eight games.
While he didn't gain as much attention as forwards like Drouin, MacKinnon, Florida's Aleksander Barkov or Carolina's center Elias Lindholm – all taken before him in the 2013 NHL Draft – Monahan entered the draft as perhaps the most complete two-way player among the forward prospects, which has shown to be the case so far.
After his fast start, Monahan has cooled a bit, with just one point in his last four games. In 12 games in October he scored six goals (including two on the power play) and had four assists, finishing -6 while averaging 15:51 minutes of ice time.
1. (tie) Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks
Drafted 17th overall (1st round) in 2012
The Sharks once again had a disappointing playoff run after being one of the NHL's top teams in 2012-13, and some feel the window for them to compete for a Stanley Cup may be closing. Hertl has been a key addition this year, sharing the team lead in goals with Sharks leading scorer Patrick Marleau, as San Jose is again competing for the league's top record as the season heads into November.
Though four of his eight goals, including a between the legs move on a breakaway that made most of the highlight shows, came in one game (San Jose's 9-2 drubbing of the New York Rangers in the third game of the season), the Czech center has averaged almost 15 minutes of ice time per night.
In 13 games in October, Hertl scored 8 goals with 3 assists and was +8 with no penalty minutes.
The top defenseman taken in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones has stepped right into the lineup for Nashville. Paired with veteran all-star Shea Weber on the Predators' top defensive pairing for much of the season so far, Jones has averaged nearly 25 minutes of ice time per game, the most among NHL rookies.
The 19-year-old came into the NHL with high expectations due to his unique blend of size, strength, skating and stick skills and has lived up to his advance billing.
Jones scored two goals with three assists and was an even plus/minus with two penalty minutes in his first 12 NHL games in October.
4. Nathan MacKinnon, RW/C, Colorado Avalanche
Drafted 1st overall (1st Round) in 2013
The Avalanche have been by far the NHL's biggest surprise after the first month of the season — winning 10 of their first 11 games — and MacKinnon has fit right in with a balanced Colorado attack that has ten players with five or more points.
MacKinnon turned 18 in September but has proven to be up to the challenge of skating against much older players. Playing right wing for Colorado after skating as a center in junior hockey, MacKinnon has flourished in his new role under first-year Avalanche coach Patrick Roy.
MacKinnon scored one goal with six assists and was +2 with six penalty minutes in his first 11 NHL games, averaging 13:33 minutes of ice time.
Much like current Ottawa Senator Cory Conacher last year, the undersized and unheralded Arcobello has emerged as one of the top rookie scorers after being one of the top offensive players in the AHL the previous season.
Never drafted, Arcobello graduated from Yale in 2010 and split his first pro season between Oklahoma City (AHL) and the ECHL's Stockton Thunder before receiving an NHL contract offer from Edmonton in April of 2011. He spent the next two seasons with Oklahoma City, leading the Barons with 22 goals and 46 assists in 74 games in 2012-13 and making his first (and only) NHL appearance in a February game against Dallas.
Moved to left wing by the Oilers to start the season, Arcobello made the Oilers out of training camp and in 14 games was +3 with 10 assists and four penalty minutes, averaging 17:45 minutes of ice time per game.
After spending his first pro season in North America with Anaheim's AHL affiliate Norfolk last season — missing over two months due to concussion symptoms — the Swedish 19-year-old has made a smooth transition into the NHL.
Anaheim, like Colorado and San Jose, has gotten off to a fast start in the Western Conference race and Lindholm has been in the middle of that success. One of two rookies seeing regular time on the blue line with the Ducks (along with former Norfolk teammate Sami Vatanen), Lindholm has averaged over 19 minutes of ice time per game so far, which places him third amongst Anaheim defensemen. His calling card is his two-way play as well as his passing skills and ability to analyze the play as it happens.
In Anaheim's first 11 games in October, Lindholm recorded two assists and was +10 with four penalty minutes.
After being recalled by the Stars after spending most of the season in the AHL with Texas, Chiasson made an impressive NHL debut at the end of last season, scoring six goals with one assist in seven late-season games.
Now in his second pro season following three years of college hockey at Boston University, the 23-year-old picked up right where he left off at the end of last year. A streak scorer who must still work on his two-way play, Chiasson scored goals in the Stars' first three games this season and had nine points (five goals, four assists) in the Stars' first nine games this year.
In 12 games in October, Chiasson finished with nine points, registering a -2 with 6 penalty minutes while averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game.
8. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers
Drafted 2nd overall (1st Round) in 2013
Barkov's size, skill level and mental composure obscure the fact that he, like MacKinnon, just turned 18 in September. The son of a former Russian national team player who spent much of his pro career in Finland's SM-Liiga, Barkov played for his father's former club, Tappara Tampere, last season and is making the jump directly from the Finnish pro league to the NHL.
Skating with a variety of linemates, including 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau, Barkov has averaged over 16 minutes of ice time and is tied for second in points with veteran Brad Boyes (seven each), two points behind Panthers' leading scorer Tomas Fleischmann.
Barkov scored three goals with four assists in his first 12 games in October and was -1 with no penalty minutes.
Murphy made his NHL debut in 2012-13, playing in four games with Carolina before returning to the Kitchener Rangers to finish his final junior season. A captain for the Rangers last season and a member of Team Canada at the 2013 U20 World Junior Championship, Murphy has made a successful jump from juniors to the NHL.
Usually partnered with veteran Jay Harrison on the Hurricanes' third defensive pair, Murphy has also been used on the Carolina power-play; he scored his first NHL goal with the man-advantage in the Hurricanes' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Toronto on Oct. 17th.
In his first 11 games, Murphy scored one goal with four assists and was +1 with two penalty minutes while averaging 18:40 minutes of ice time per game.
Trouba, the fourth defensemen to make the poll for October, was logging huge minutes for Winnipeg before suffering a scary injury when he went crashing head first into the boards in the first period in a game against St. Louis on October 20th. While he could miss up to a month due to a sprained neck, things looked much worse when the injury occurred.
One of the key players for the USA's gold medal-winning team at the 2013 U20 World Junior Championship, Trouba also won a bronze medal skating for Team USA at the 2013 World Championship last spring following his freshman season at the University of Michigan.
Trouba signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Jets in April of 2013. foregoing his final three years of college hockey. The 19-year-old has proven up to the task of playing a huge role as Winnipeg makes the move from competing in the Eastern Conference to playing a Western Conference schedule.
In eight games, including the game against St. Louis when he played just over six minutes, Trouba has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time and was -3 with one goal, one assist and two penalty minutes.