by PuckStopsHere on 02/22/12 at 02:23 PM ET
Early this season it became clear that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers was the top rookie in the NHL. It seemed clear that he would be rookie of the year unless he ran into injury problems. Those injuries have happened. Nugent-Hopkins has missed 19 games so far this season with two shoulder injuries. This was necessary to open up the Calder Trophy race to other candidates. The current front runner is Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils. He leads all rookies with 41 points and he leads his team with a +12 +/- rating. His team is playing him in all situations including penalty kill, power play and playing against top competition.
Henrique is 22 years old. He was a third round draft pick in 2008. He was never seen as truly top prospect but he won the 2009 Memorial Cup and played for Canada in the 2010 World Junior Championships. After a year of seasoning in the AHL he has made the NHL this season.
Henrique does not have the same upside that Nugent-Hopkins has. He hasn’t been as good a player on a per game basis as Nugent-Hopkins has. However he has been the rookie who has had the best year so far this year. He should be a good NHL player for years to come, though I think he may not have the best career of the 2012 class of rookies.
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