Landeskog could make it two consecutive Kitchener Rangers for the Calder

By Andrew Knoll

 

Photo: Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog had a lot to celebrate during the 2011-12 season, and he may be celebrating a Calder Trophy win come June (courtesy of

Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
 

While this season’s rookie class may not quite rival that of last year’s youngsters, there have been several impact rookies. Here is a look at three Calder Trophy favorites and their achievements this season.*

Second Runner-Up: Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

If not for having missed 20 games and struggling slightly before and after his injury, Nugent-Hopkins could have easily captured the Calder. While some questioned his physical readiness for the NHL, Nugent-Hopkins broke strong and established himself as the early favorite while the Oilers floated around the top of the Northwest Division. Nugent-Hopkins finished with 52 points in 62 games and skated at a -2 rating, a respectable rating on a team that just won the draft lottery for the third straight season. Nugent-Hopkins showed extended flashes of a complete offensive game and a brilliant hockey imagination. He seems to think two plays ahead of any given moment. He has also established himself as a brilliant man-advantage player, racking up 20 power-play assists this season and demonstrating explosive potential as a playmaker.

First Runner-Up: Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers

Read has been arguably the most versatile player in the NHL this year at any experience level. He can play literally anywhere in Philly’s top-nine forward rotation, having played on all three lines and played all three forward positions for the Flyers this season. Read also killed penalties and played the point on the power play, making him a true player for all situations. In addition to playing such a wide variety of roles, Read produced within them. He was perhaps the year’s most unlikely 20-goal scorer, finishing with 24 goals, 23 assists and a +13 rating. Read also had six game-winning goals, four of which came in one-goal games. An older rookie, Read still exceeded any realistic expectations in terms of his poise, professionalism and proficiency as an exemplary utility player for the Flyers.

Winner: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Landeskog should make it back-to-back Calder wins for Kitchener boys after his old roommate, Jeff Skinner, won the award last season. The Swedish neophyte played in all situations but did most of his damage at even strength, where he scored 38 of his 52 points. Landeskog was among the most polished and physically prepared rookies in the 2011 draft. He certainly put that muscle to use, dishing out 219 hits and finishing with a +20 rating. Landeskog had not only the most comprehensive contribution of any rookie, but he was among the most complete players in the Western Conference. In addition to imposing his will physically, his mix of strength, skill and fluidity also allowed him to gain steam as the season progressed. Landeskog closed out the year with 25 points in 29 games from February onward, posting season-bests in literally every statistical category during that time frame.

*Editor's note: This Calder article represents the trophy selection according to one of our NHL writers. We will still be posting the Calder Poll article in which a player is chosen as HF's top pick for this trophy, along with information on other notable NHL rookies.