NHL Awards 2012: Breaking Down the Odds for the Players Up for the Calder Trophy
The NHL has announced their final three candidates for the 2012 Calder Memorial Trophy: Adam Henrique, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While all three players had great rookie seasons, Nugent-Hopkins is the clear favorite among the finalists.
Let's have a look at each player's season and why Nugent-Hopkins will take home the hardware.
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If playoffs were taken into consideration for the Calder trophy, then Adam Henrique would have a real chance at taking it home. However, as it stands, his regular season performance didn't eclipse those of the other two candidates in any significant way.
Part of his problem will be the fact that he played a lot of hockey alongside Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Though he led all rookies in assists (35) and finished third in points (51—only one short of the league lead), his production will be less significant in the eyes of the voters because his other two opponents had less-skilled linemates.
Henrique certainly has a shot, but with Nugent-Hopkins only playing 62 games and eclipsing Henrique in points, it isn't likely that Henrique will be able to overcome him in voting.
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Gabriel Landeskog played all 82 games for Colorado last season, which actually may end up hurting him in the long run.
Like Henrique, there's really no discernible reason why Landeskog shouldn't win the award. He tied for the league lead in rookie scoring and displayed an incredible ability to produce offensively at the NHL level. He's the real deal, and no one in their right mind will turn a blind eye to his offensive accomplishments as a rookie.
However, he'll also lose to Nugent-Hopkins—not because his own performance is lacking but because of the gravity of Nugent-Hopkins' accomplishments.
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, remarkably, has only just turned 19 years old. Part of the attraction he'll draw during the Calder voting is the fact that he's accomplished everything so far at such a young age.
His advantages lie in two facets: He plays for one of the worst teams in the league and finding individual success on a bad team is very difficult, and his 52 points were league-leading among rookies.
It's fair to assume that Nugent-Hopkins' production would have been significantly higher had he played an injury-free season. However, his merit for the award won't come off that speculation alone. In 62 games he still led all rookies in points and integrated himself into an Oilers team that doesn't have a reputation for high offensive production.
While all the candidates are obviously qualified, Nugent-Hopkins is the complete package. He displayed in his first year that he clearly belongs in the NHL, and if he doesn't take home the Calder Memorial trophy this year, we can expect he'll be up for another NHL award very soon.