FAIR WARNING – THERE’S going to be a few Montreal Canadiens on this list. The whole “rookie playoff double-down” routine is kind of their thing.
In 1984, it was a 22-year-old defenseman from the U.S. Olympic team who earned regular duty in the playoffs despite having just 12 regular season games to his name. Chelios put up just two points in his lateseason audition, but exploded for 10 points during Montreal’s run to the conference final.
The following season, Chelios established himself as a full-time NHL regular, finishing second to Mario Lemieux in the Calder Trophy race. He followed that up with another 10-point performance in the playoffs, although this time the Canadiens were eliminated in the second round.
As a reminder of how cruel this game can be, Chelios wasn’t even the Canadiens’ most important rookie double-dipper in those two playoff runs. That was netminder Steve Penney, who won 15 games over the course of two rookie post-seasons. But while Chelios went on to play an NHL-record 266 playoff games over the course of a 26-year career, Penney battled injuries and lost his starting job to some rookie named Patrick Roy. Penney never appeared in the NHL playoffs again.