5 rookies turning heads in the preseason

by Craig Hagerman
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

Who says preseason games are meaningless?

Sure, results might not be the top priority, but for many players - especially those getting their first NHL tastes - preseason hockey allows players the opportunity to make an impression on coaches and management.

This exhibition season has been no different. Roughly two weeks into training camp, several rookies are putting up strong numbers and have made it hard not to take notice and consider a roster spot.

Here are five rookies who have turned heads this preseason:

Brock Boeser - Canucks

The last two seasons haven't been fun for the Vancouver Canucks. However, if there's one bright spot in the organization it might very well be Brock Boeser.

The former University of North Dakota star signed with the Canucks last season, and after a small nine-game stint at the end of the year - when he scored four goals - he's giving some hope to Canucks fans.

Through three preseason games, Boeser paces the NHL with four goals and six points. The Canucks had the second-worst offense last season, so Boeser looks to be just what the doctor ordered.

Clayton Keller - Coyotes

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Keller has long been on the NHL radar, and a spot on the Arizona Coyotes' roster this season was assumed, but nevertheless the 19-year-old has had an extremely productive preseason.

In two games, Keller has two goals and three assists - tying him for second in preseason scoring - highlighted by a two-goal, one-assist outing in a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks earlier in the week.

Keep your eyes on Keller, as it looks like he could be in the running for the Calder Trophy this season.

Kailer Yamamoto - Oilers

It might be early, but it looks like the Edmonton Oilers may have snagged a steal in this year's draft.

Yamamoto - plucked with the 22nd overall pick - is quietly making a solid impression in his first taste playing against men. In three preseason contests, Yamamoto shares the league-lead in goals (four) with Boeser, and also has an assist.

He might still be a stretch to crack the Oilers' roster at just 18 years old, but he's certainly put the club on notice.

Logan Brown - Senators

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

Other than defenseman Thomas Chabot and arguably Colin White, the Ottawa Senators' prospect with the biggest upside is 2016 first-round pick Brown, and this preseason he's proving why.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has the body to be a menacing power forward and he looks to have the hands to be effective in tight. Thanks to a two-goal, one-assist performance Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, Brown has a respectable three goals and four points in two games.

Derick Brassard is out with a shoulder injury, and while his return appears to be imminent, Brown is proving he can challenge for a center spot.

Tomas Hyka - Golden Knights

Tyler Wong might have gotten most of the spotlight after scoring three goals and an assist in the Golden Knights first preseason contest, but Hyka has been equally impressive.

In two games, Hyka has three goals and four points, with two multi-point contests.

He was one of the Golden Knights' first free-agent signings in June after coming over from the Czech Republic, and unlike many rookies, has age on his side at 24 years old.

Hyka has the hands and offensive awareness to jump to the NHL, and with more experience playing against older competition, he should have an edge on many other first-year players.