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Never Too Early to Talk Rookie of the Year

The NHL’s rookie of the year trophy, the Calder Memorial, has been handed out 79 times to date. Unsurprisingly the trophy has touched the hands of more forwards than any other position. The totals are 53 forwards  - 25 centres, 10 left wingers and 18 right wingers, 16 goaltenders, and only 10 defencemen.

Those 79 recipients have come from 21 of the current 30 NHL teams, and yet with all of the young rookies that have played for the Oilers at one time or another, not one of the recipients has been an Oiler.

Centre and 2011 first overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked to be a sure thing last season. He came out of the gates with both barrels blazing and instant chemistry with winger Jordan Eberle. But then injury happened.

It was just an innocent looking fall into the boards, and without contact from anyone, but it was enough to sideline The Nuge and burst the bubble that had encircled all of Oil Country. Surely the hockey writers would still look at Nugent-Hopkins' points over the games that he did play, just that scoring rate alone should be enough!

But alas, it wasn’t. Nugent-Hopkins missed games cost him the coveted trophy because it showed that he didn’t play his entire rookie season.

Edmonton was ripped off.

But this is a year that could make everyone forget about that. This year the Oilers once again have two talented rookies in their lineup. And they’re pretty good.

Nail Yakupov was selected first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and is best known at this point for his unintelligible post game interview at the 2012 World Juniors, and of course this goal celebration:



But what about that Justin Schultz guy? Schultz isn’t a typical – as of late – Oiler rookie. He isn’t 18 and fresh out of junior. Schultz is a man of 22 (23 this June) who signed as a free agent contract with the Oilers this past summer.

While Schultz is better known for his stats than his interviews, everyone is the hockey world has been watching him.

A shoe in to win the AHL rookie of the year award with 18 goals, 48 points and a plus 8 with the Oklahoma City Barons, Schultz didn’t miss a stride transitioning to the NHL. There have been minor errors made of course, but Schultz hasn’t let that get him down. In five NHL games, the rookie has 2 goals and 3 assists. He’s also a plus 1.



Of course these stats are driven by the power play time Schultz sees, 25:24 so far this season. But did you also know that Schultz leads his team with time on ice? 116:31, a full 8 minutes more than the next time leader; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Of that 116.5 minutes, Schultz has played a mere 7 minutes shorthanded, leaving veterans like Jeff Petry (113 NHL games) and Ladislav Smid to shoulder  to shoulder most of the penalty kills.

But the season is young, and so is Schultz’s career.

While Schultz may very well be Edmonton’s best chance at rookie of the year this year, being a defenceman may not do him any favors looking at the past list of recipients. But, it does happen. In the past 10 years, there have been 2 defencemen, 2 goaltenders, and 5 forwards (2004-05 no award) to take home the award.

This could be Edmonton’s year. After all, they won the Schultz lottery. The rest is up to Schultz.

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, | Oil Patch | Permalink
  Tags: justin+schultz, nail+yakupov



Sometimes it’s too early.

Posted by NathanBC on 01/29/13 at 02:46 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

Thank you you’re right. And to think, I tsk when I see print articles with mistakes like that in the headlines…

Posted by Lisa Brown on 01/29/13 at 02:52 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I picked up Schultz with the last pick of my fantasy draft.  I guess no one wanted him because of the risk, but he’s been one of my best defensemen.

Posted by TreKronor on 01/29/13 at 02:55 PM ET

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About Oil Patch

Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.

Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.

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