NHL.com’s Ben Golliver breaks down the top free agents heading into the 2018-19 season and how they’ll impact the league’s top-line.
Article By Ben Gissner, NHL.COMThe NHL will have a record-setting season this season with six rookies on the ice for the first time in team history, as they’re all vying for a spot on the All-Star Team.
Here are the players you need to know heading into this season.
Players to watch:Alexandre BurrowsAlexandre BournivalAlex Burrows (C)Alex Burks (C), a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
He signed a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.5 million on July 1, 2018, the same day he was drafted.
Burrows played his first NHL game on March 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has played for four teams.
Burrows, 19, has made 26 appearances for the Lightning, scoring two goals and adding seven assists for 18 points in 27 games.
He will be a restricted free agent on July 11 and has a cap charge of $3.5.
The 21-year-old is the fourth-youngest player in NHL history, trailing only players like Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Leetch and John Tavares.
He has a career goal differential of +19.9, which is the best in the league and is tied for the best among rookie goalies.
He is second among NHL rookie goalmakers with 17 wins and is averaging 16:47 of ice time per game, third among rookie defensemen with 13:19 of ice on goal per game and second among all rookie defenseman in shots faced per game (3:02).
Burrows’ goal-scoring ability, speed and offensive instincts are complemented by an ability to score on the rush.
He leads the Lightning in both offensive zone faceoffs (927) and shots (2,717) and ranks second in scoring chances (1,816).
He has 10 power play goals, second on the team behind defenseman Victor Hedman with eight, while he ranks first in shorthanded scoring (2.3) and fourth in plus/minus (+7).
Burks was acquired by Tampa Bay from the Philadelphia Flyers in a blockbuster trade on June 12, 2018.
He played five games for Tampa Bay during the 2017-18 season before being acquired by the Lightning on July 10, 2018 in a trade with New Jersey.
The Lightning selected Burks with the 30th overall pick in 2016.
The Lightning’s first-line center is a power-play specialist who can create offense for Tampa in the offensive zone.
He had a career-high 11 power play points in 2017-2018.
Burks is a solid skater and a physical presence.
He doesn’t have a great first step but has quick feet to get into position on the puck and is an effective forechecker, especially when he’s out on the forecheck.
He’s also strong on his skates, using his body to generate a physical edge in the defensive zone.
Burries is the Lightning’s third-leading scorer in the AHL with 15 goals and 26 points in 35 games this season, and has scored at least 20 goals in every season of his professional career.
He earned his first pro contract on July 17, 2018 and is one of just three Lightning forwards to have more than one point in the first 20 games of a season.
The 22-year.old has six goals and 19 points in 29 games this year, and leads the team in points per game with 16.5, tied for second among Lightning forwards.
He was selected to the AHL All-Rookie Team this season after posting nine points (three goals, seven assists) in 12 games.
Burcks, who was selected by the Flyers in the second round, was acquired in a June 12 trade with the Philadelphia Devils.
He appeared in 11 games for the Flyers, scoring one goal and adding four assists for nine points in six AHL games.
The 19-year old was drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry draft.
The 27-year.-old is coming off a season that saw him score 10 goals and 28 points in 60 games for Pittsburgh.
He led the Penguins in scoring in the regular season, as he led the NHL in goals with 52 and points with 55.
Burks is one goal shy of tying his career high with 57 points and has recorded at least two goals in each of the last three seasons.
He also has nine assists.
Burts, a first round pick in 2014, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Lightning at the end of the 2016-17 season.
He made 27 appearances for Tampa, earning six assists and a plus-two rating in 15 games.
Burcks spent the majority of the past two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres