Early-season rookie watch

Rasmus Dahlin has logged over 17 minutes of ice time for the Buffalo Sabres in each game he's played this season. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There are many NHL newcomers nearing, if not already at the nine-game audition plateau. This is an important touchstone, as the first year of a player's entry-level deal kicks in with their tenth game played. Here's a look at which of these neophytes fantasy managers should expect to remain in the NHL going forward, and who might be in danger of demotion. Most importantly, we'll take a closer look at exactly what each of these rookies has to offer us moving forward, from a fantasy perspective.

Sticking around

Casey Mittelstadt, C, Buffalo Sabres (74.8 percent rostered): Despite the goose egg in the goals column, Mittelstadt (who does have one assist) is secure in his centerman's role with the Sabres. Buffalo remains willing to stick with their worthwhile "work in progress," as should those invested in him in fantasy. The fact is, the 19-year-old is playing well, which expects to translate into more entires on the scoresheet soon enough. Fantasy managers who don't currently have Mittelstadt on their roster should also keep an eye on their compatriots who may be losing patience in him. He could make for an exceptionally rich waiver pickup in the weeks to come.

Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks (73.0 percent): Was there ever any doubt he would stick around? Maybe earlier this summer, but certainly not in recent weeks. Due back any day now after sustaining an early-season concussion, the 19-year-old center can be expected to build on his collection of five goals and three assists though five games. While that torrid pace is hardly sustainable, Pettersson could easily finish the season with 70 points. If somehow this talented kid is available in your league, give him a long, hard look.

Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres (51.0 percent): Having this year's No. 1 draft pick play anywhere other than in Buffalo has likely never been a serious subject of conversation for the Sabres. While his (relatively) meager output of three points through nine contests hasn't exactly produced a "wow factor," it's worth noting that the 18-year-old is feeling more and more comfortable, game by game. Plus, he's anchoring the Sabres' top power play, of which there's a lot to like. In leagues where he is still available, fantasy managers are advised not to hold off claiming Dahlin -- a potential fantasy blue-line jewel.

Maxime Lajoie, D, Ottawa Senators (26.2 percent): Helping to partially fill the void left by Erik Karlsson (along with Thomas Chabot), Lajoie is off to a good start, with seven points in eight games -- including four goals. The 20-year-old top-four defenseman, who is also an anchor on Ottawa's secondary power play, isn't going anywhere. Fantasy managers in the deepest of fantasy leagues will also appreciate that rookie forward Colin White has been instructed to find permanent accommodations in Ottawa. With two goals and two assists to date, the 2015 first-round draft selection is now playing on a scoring line with Matt Duchene. Keep an eye on him as well.

Henri Jokiharju, D, Chicago Blackhawks (5.2 percent): One of this fall's more pleasant surprises, Jokiharju is establishing himself as a fixture on Chicago's blue line, as he's already playing top-four minutes. While some fantasy managers will feel frustrated by the 19-year-old's lack of production since he broke out with five assists in two early games, six full game ago, there's every reason to stick with this offensive talent. A continuing role on the Blackhawks power play ensures the points will flow again soon enough. Honestly, this kid's ceiling is high.

Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ottawa Senators (5.1 percent): Never mind any silly notion of demotion, the Senators can hardly wait to have their 19-year-old firecracker back in the lineup. While Tkachuk nurses a torn ligament, that return date is currently set around mid-November. Erupting for three goals and three assists in four games, this kid is going to be a gem for the Senators this season, health willing. Don't let him wallow too long on waivers ahead of his return.

Max Comtois, LW, Anaheim Ducks (2.4 percent): With 10 games under his belt, Comtois is already beyond reassigning for the sake of deferring the first year of his entry-level deal. However, the 19-year-old has recently slid out of a top-six role, down to a less imposing unit (production-wise, anyway) alongside fellow rookie Sam Steel. The big-bodied banger has only one assist, averaging just under 12 minutes per game, in his past three contests. There's not a lot of fantasy flair here, beyond hits, at the moment.

Dominik Kahun, C, Chicago Blackhawks (0.5 percent): Skating on a top Blackhawks line with Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat, Kahun has a goal and five assists though nine contests. He's slotted to play his 10th game on Thursday against the Rangers. Still adapting to the NHL game after four full seasons as a pro in Europe, the 23-year-old boasts legit value in deeper leagues for as long as he remains both on Chicago's top line and their secondary power play.

Warren Foegele, LW, Carolina Hurricanes (0.3 percent): Moments after his No. 2-overall selection in this year's draft, Andrei Svechnikov was essentially marked to compete for the Hurricanes this season. Foegele, however, was thought to be a wobblier bet all summer. If anything, the hype surrounding 19-year-old Martin Necas, who has already been relegated to the AHL, or Valentin Zykov, who is seeing bottom-six minutes was more rousing. Yet, Foegele remains in the NHL. He has three goals and two assists, and is competing on a top-six line with veterans Jordan Staal and Justin Williams. A regular turn with the man-advantage would raise Foegele that extra fantasy notch.

On the edge

Michael Rasmussen, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (3.4 percent): The latest scuttlebutt suggests the Red Wings are likely to run with Rasmussen past nine games, even though the young forward hasn't sparkled so far. Frankly, he appears to be overwhelmed, particularly by the speed of the game at this level. Perhaps a few more weeks of adjustment will make a significant difference. As it stands, however, the 2017 No. 9-overall pick's one assist doesn't live up to his earlier sleeper promise. He could also be reassigned at a later date.

Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Edmonton Oilers (2.0 percent): Thanks to the quirky NHL "slide rule," Yamamoto can again be designated to the AHL when his nine-game audition runs out. Unless the just-turned 20-year-old starts to shine on a top line with Connor McDavid soon -- he's just been "okay" in that role this past week -- the Oilers may well opt for that route. Seven games in, the 2017 first-rounder has a couple of contests remaining to put his best skate forward. Fantasy managers in deeper leagues will want to track Yamamoto's performance in Thursday's tilt with the Capitals. If the former Spokane Chief can gel on that top unit before forward Ty Rattie heals up, or before coach Todd McLellan gives his lineup another shuffle, he could be in for one heck of a campaign.

Evan Bouchard, D, Edmonton Oilers (0.6 percent): Since the rookie defenseman has appeared in only six games thus far, the Oilers have a bit of time left to decide exactly what to do with Bouchard. The 19-year-old skated fewer than nine minutes in Tuesday's tilt with the Penguins, which suggests he could be bound to re-join the OHL London Knights shortly. But some argue the "heir-apparent" (eventually) to the role of anchoring Edmonton's top power play will learn more -- and at an accelerated rate -- by being challenged at the highest level, even if that means enduring limited minutes. However it shakes out, Bouchard isn't shaping up to be the fantasy sleeper some thought him to be ahead of camp. Outside of deep dynasty leagues, the 2018 No. 10-overall draft pick remains relatively uninteresting for now.