On Sunday we looked at three rookies who had a solid month of the February
Sadly, there are a few rookies that had a rough February for one reason or another. The field was tough to narrow down but here are three of the players one may keep an eye on in our “Rookie Cold Watch.”
NHL Rookies On Cold Ice — February
Will Butcher — New Jersey Devils — Defenseman
The New Jersey defenseman had just one point in 15 February games. He has been sheltered heavily and does have good possession metrics (+7% team relative). However, that is clouded a bit by his 64.7% offensive zone percentage.
New Jersey has given Butcher chances, and the defenseman has not produced enough. He has not severely disappointed from an effort standpoint, but more from a production perspective. Butcher misses the net at a high frequency and has too many zero shots on goal nights. This is why he is further down on the depth chart for now.
It will be intriguing to see how he handles the decreased role in back to back scenarios, especially. Butcher played under 14 minutes several times in February and that was by design. It is not like he has played awfully, but there have been a few sluggish games recently.
There is a good chance that this is just all apart of the learning curve for Butcher. Chance generation will be vital as much as the defensive part of his game. All are works in progress.
Mikhail Sergachev — Tampa Bay Lightning — Defenseman
Sergachev followed up a rough January with almost an equally tough February. The Tampa defenseman had four points in 13 games, including three secondary assists. He played less than 13 minutes three times in the last month.
The defenseman started in the offensive zone over 70% in February. The young defenseman has been invisible at times and now has been passed on the depth chart temporarily by others.
Can Sergachev find his way? Tampa acquired Ryan McDonagh to further nurse the young Russian along. A 19-year-old trying to play a full NHL schedule is difficult. Unfortunately, his shot rate and defensive awareness are not where they need to be currently. Those numbers dropped again slightly in February. Sergachev finishing a bit stronger remains a possibility because of Tampa’s depth.
Alexander Kerfoot — Colorado Avalanche — Center
The Colorado forward plodded along in February with just four points in 14 games. Worse, his shot and chance production dropped progressively. His time on ice lowered to the point where he was teetering near being a healthy scratch. Some rookies just hit the wall and Kerfoot, like Will Butcher, is no exception.
Kerfoot battled a minor injury or two but has stayed healthy for the most part in his rookie campaign. That is the good news. The points and shots have dropped off after a hot stretch.
His ice time sheltered at around 14 minutes per night. Kerfoot had 54%+ offensive zone starts but has +1.5% possession metrics to team relative. The ice time dropped to fourth line minutes.
Kerfoot slipped in February and March is uncertain as Colorado is in the midst of a playoff race. The center scratched in certain situations would not be surprising. Maybe that rest benefits Kerfoot.