by PuckStopsHere on 03/31/13 at 02:00 PM ET
Early in February I picked Cory Conacher of the Tampa Bay Lightning as the early season rookie of the year. He was the clear leader in points among rookies. This was due in part to playing with some high octane teammates in Martin St Louis and Steve Stamkos in some protected time. Conacher is weak defensively and this is why he spent several years in the AHL despite success offensively. If another player could match him offensively with better defensive ability he would be a better rookie of the year candidate.
We have that player in Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers. He has fur more goals and one more point than Conacher. While he isn't defensively strong, he is not as weak and in need of protection as Conacher. His offensive success is not due to strong teammates. It is due to his own talent. He is the leading scorer on the weak Florida team.
Huberdeau is succeeding in tougher situation than Conacher plays and as a result is a stronger player. At this point he is the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy.
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