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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.*
Fans of the Edmonton Oilers have demonstrated their patience over the past number of years, buying into the mantra of a wholesale rebuild. After two seasons in the NHL’s basement however, expectations are rising and that patience is wearing thin. Fortunately for the Oilers faithful, a lot of the team’s future is on or near the NHL roster and there is still a wealth of quality talent coming down the pipe. Unlike years past, much of the current talent in the prospect pool is complementary and demonstrates a wide range of skills. With the exception of the 2011 top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the players who succeed at the NHL level off this list will be likely be playing supporting roles to the top line talents who have already made the jump to the show.
Coming into the 2011 NHL Draft with nine picks, the Edmonton Oilers were already the beneficiaries of a string of strong drafts, boasting one of the better groups of prospects and young NHLers in the league. Among their nine picks were two in the first round, including the top pick overall for the second year in a row.
The major needs in the Oilers' system were an elite level center and a defenseman or two with top pairing upside. Beyond that, their existing organizational depth allowed Head Scout Stu MacGregor and his team with the luxury of selecting the player they believed to be the best available at each spot and further stock the system with talent.