Sadly, there are a few rookies that had a rough March 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 — March
Jesper Bratt — New Jersey Devils — Right Wing
The New Jersey winger tallied just two points in ten March games. He has been sheltered somewhat and does have decreasing possession metrics (-2.75% team relative). Also, his minutes have been curtailed to about 13 minutes a night, and Bratt has been scratched several times.
New Jersey has given Bratt chances, and the forward has not produced enough. He has not severely disappointed from an effort standpoint, but more from a production perspective. Bratt 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. Bratt played poorly against Pittsburgh, and that was noticed by the coaching staff. He did improve a little over his previous three games — totaling seven shots.
There is a good chance that this is just all apart of the learning curve for Bratt. With the playoffs coming up, do not expect the forward to see anything more than bottom six ice time.
J.T. Compher — Colorado Avalanche — Left Wing
Compher followed up a tough end to February with almost an equally rough March. The Avalanche winger had three points in 15 games, including three secondary assists. He played less than 14 minutes five times in the last month.
The forward started in the offensive zone over 70% in February. The young winger has been invisible at times and now has been passed on the depth chart temporarily by others.
Can Compher find his way next season? That is a great question. Colorado needs increased production from its depth as Nathan MacKinnon’s line cannot carry the Avalanche all the time. The last eight games of the season saw a forward, who hit the net just four times. Compher’s rookie season is a valuable experience for him going into next year.
Martin Frk — Detroit Red Wings — Right Wing
The Detroit forward plodded along in March 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 are in an impossible situation, and Frk is in one of those.
Frk battled many defensive lapses 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 start.
His ice time sheltered at around 10 minutes per night. Frk had 57%+ offensive zone starts but has +1.2% possession metrics to team relative. The ice time is fourth line minutes with a fraction of power play time.
Frk worsened in March, and April is uncertain as Detroit played out the string. The surprising part is that Frk has not been scratched more. His development makes many wonder if Jeff Blashill will be Detroit’s coach next season. Frk has been far from great, but several players on the Red Wings have been much worse.