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Top Rookie This Season

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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I’ll agree that Henrique isn’t likely to have the career that Nugent-Hopkins, Couturier, Larsson, et al, will have. However, Henrique has been having a Calder year, no question. I think that unless RNH has an incredible March, the only challenger to the Henrique is Landeskog, and only if he continues to score as he has over the last month or so.

When you look at points per 60, Henrique is second only to RNH. He also leads demonstrably in non-scoring areas such as faceoffs, hits, blocks, etc. Henrique is trouncing all rookies with a 12.2 GVT (RNH and Couturier both sit at 6.8, while Landeskog has an 8.0 GVT).

Posted by SteMaturin on 02/24/12 at 01:56 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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