May 18, 2011, 5:21 PM EDT
No doubt about it, Tyler Seguin made a huge impact in his first two career playoff appearances. Some even think that he’s been good enough to make Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien look bad (even if his team managed to make the Eastern Conference finals without Seguin).
In the rush to crown Seguin the next big thing, it’s important to note that two games remain a small sample. Sure, his six-point start ties him for second place in NHL history for a player’s first two contests, but he has a way to go before he can join the ranks of the all-time best rookie playoff performers.
In a tribute to that sentiment (and also Seguin’s big night), Adam Proteau constructed his top 10 list of all-time rookie playoff performances for The Hockey News. The list includes memorable runs from Ken Dryden, Jeremy Roenick and even current Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney.
First, here are the two active players who made the list:
9. Cam Ward, Hurricanes
Just 22 years old at the time, Ward tasted his first playoff action in 2006 when he replaced Canes starter Martin Gerber in Game 2 of the first round against the Canadiens. Ward never surrendered the role the rest of the way, winning 15 games (including two Game 7s) and claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy as Carolina won its first Stanley Cup.
5. Ville Leino, Flyers
Though Leino played seven playoff games with Detroit in 2009, he was also still considered a rookie in his second playoff season. Leino was a relatively old 26 when he suited up for Philadelphia in 2010, but made the most of it, setting a new league record for playoff rookie assists (14) and tying Ciccarelli’s record for rookie playoff points (21) set in 1981.
Some might have actually ranked Ward higher than Leino because he was arguably even more valuable to his team as he won the Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup in 2006, but it’s tough to argue with Leino’s overall numbers.
Quite possibly the greatest goalie in NHL history and two scrappy overachievers round out the top three of Proteau’s list.
3. Claude Lemieux, Canadiens
One of the more underrated playoff performers in NHL history, Lemieux first showed his post-season chops as a 20-year-old in 1986, scoring 10 goals (including four game-winners) in 20 games and helping the Habs to another Cup.
2. Dino Ciccarelli, North Stars
A member of the most recent Hockey Hall of Fame class, the right winger was 21 and had only played 32 regular season games when the 1981 playoffs began. He then set a rookie record for post-season goals (14) and points (21) in 19 games for a North Stars team that lost the Cup final in five games to the Islanders.
1. Patrick Roy, Canadiens
The Canadiens legend was just 20 years old in 1986 when he powered the Habs to the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP thanks to 15 wins and a 1.93 goals-against average.
People often point the advantage of experience in the postseason, but those 10 players rank among the players who were quick learners. Will Seguin force his way onto later top 10 lists like this in the future? He’ll need to keep his hot streak going to have a chance.
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