3 rookies not named McDavid and Eichel to watch

Matt Kartozian / USA TODAY Sports

As a glut of veterans wait on the periphery, helpless, holding out hope that an executive will call to prolong a fading career, it's more apparent now than ever that the NHL is a young man's game.

Here are three rookies (not named Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel) to watch out for next season:

Max Domi, Arizona Coyotes

Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, and Laurent Dauphin will have opportunities next season, but Domi is the Arizona freshman most likely to move the needle.

Domi is the most exciting, potentially franchise-altering chip the Coyotes have as part of their unmatched prospect nucleus. With a larger-than-life persona as polarizing as his lineage and an ability to provide spurts of spectacular, Domi figures to be the chief protagonist in the Coyotes' build back to prominence.

He won't be a hero without plight, because Domi isn't without shortcomings, but will generate that all-important buzz.

I mean, c'mon.

Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes

Hanifin didn't sign a professional contract - scrapping his remaining seasons of collegiate eligibility - to suit up for the Checkers. The kid is gonna be in the NHL.

And there's plenty of room to develop, too. The Hurricanes' fifth overall selection, much like reigning Calder Trophy winner Aaron Ekblad, is entering an ideal situation for an 18-year-old NHL defenseman. That is, if there is such a thing.

He represents one of the first slabs of concrete on Ron Francis' foundation, so the pressure - in terms of winning - is minimal. But he also figures to have every opportunity to log big minutes, while beginning to learn and build a rapport with budding elite D-man Justin Faulk, in a pair designed to dominate in Carolina for years to come.

Aside from McDavid and Eichel, it's the smooth-skating, cerebral Hanifin who should have the most opportunity among June draftees to factor next season.

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings

It's always been about sequential steps inside the Red Wings' pipeline. But the team's highest draft selection in their near quarter-century run of playoff appearances has provided every indication he's capable of a major leap.

The highly skilled forward can't completely skip Detroit's compulsory AHL duty; Larkin made a brief appearance for Grand Rapids after signing away his NCAA eligibility last spring. But after scoring three goals and five points in his first six professional games - and leaving an important impression on current Wings coach Jeff Blashill - the former Michigan Wolverine may have generated enough momentum to avoid spending the bulk of his first pro season on a bus.

The Waterford, Mich., native has a leg up on his fellow prospects, namely Anthony Mantha, but will still have to be a force in camp as Detroit has a full slate of forwards on one-way contracts.

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3 rookies not named McDavid and Eichel to watch
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