The potential cancelation of the entire 2012-13 NHL season could make things very interesting when it comes to the 2013 Rookie of the Year award.
Missing a season would mean double the number of rookies for the next scheduled season. More rookies would mean more Rookie of the Year candidates. More candidates would mean tighter races, which would mean more excitement down the stretch. You should get the point by now.
The players who would have been deemed rookies during the 2012-13 season would likely still be eligible for the award under the official NHL rookie qualifications:
To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie.
Let’s now take a look at some of the top candidates to win the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year—under the assumption that the 2012-13 will be completely canceled—and what the odds of each of them taking home the award are.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
The Panthers selected this left-handed center with the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft—behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and 2012 Rookie of the Year Gabriel Landeskog.
Huberdeau has been incredible with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL over the past three seasons, racking up 88 goals and 124 assists in 165 games. He’s known as one of the top young players from Canada and was recently recognized for it, according to Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press:
Scott Harrington of the OHL’s London Knights and Jonathan Huberdeau of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs were named alternate captains.
Putting that report into context, Huberdeau will serve as an alternative captain for the Canadian world junior hockey championship team. Spencer also notes that Huberdeau is expected to be on the team’s top line alongside the captain, Nugent-Hopkins, and Mark Scheifele.
With Stephen Weiss’ contract expiring after the 2012-13 season, the Panthers could become Huberdeau’s to lead. That being said, it wouldn’t be crazy to expect a very high point total in his rookie campaign.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
This Rangers youngster broke onto the NHL scene extremely late in the 2011-12 season right after he helped Boston College win a NCAA Division I National Championship—and that just happened to be five days before the NHL playoffs were set to begin.
Kreider was on the ice for Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators and even had a shot on net. The Rangers' 2009 first-round pick finished the postseason with five goals and two assists in 18 games.
During the lockout, Kreider has been playing with New York’s AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale. He recently suffered what could have been a serious injury, according to Katie Strang of ESPN New York:
New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider avoided a serious head injury after crashing into the boards face-first during Sunday’s game against Springfield. A source told ESPNNewYork.com that the 21-year-old winger is “fine” and is believed to be day-to-day with a neck strain.
Kreider has since returned to the ice and has totaled 10 points through 25 games.
Even though Kreider only has a small sample of NHL experience, it came on the biggest of stages and he certainly turned a lot of heads with how well he played. If he can continue that style of play once the lockout ends, he could easily add the Calder Memorial Trophy to his resume.
Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers took a big risk in drafting Yakupov with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and for good reason. In just two seasons with the Sarina Sting of the OHL—roughly 100 total games—he scored 80 goals and tallied 90 assists for 170 total points.
Yakupov is bound to be one of the top young stars in the NHL once the current lockout gets resolved. While he waits, he’ll be trying to represent his home country, Russia, in the World Junior Championships, according to Adam Kimelman of NHL.com:
First-round NHL Draft picks Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko are two of the 10 players who helped Russia win the silver medal at last year’s World Junior Championship and have been invited to try out for the 2013 team.
Even though Kimelman notes that Yakupov is only trying out, he should be a lock for Russia’s final roster.
When Yakupov eventually joins the Oilers, he’ll join three of the league’s top young superstars—Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. This nucleus of talent should have Edmonton going deep into the playoffs for years to come.
In regard to Yakupov’s Calder Memorial Trophy hopes, if he can put up half of the numbers he did in the OHL he should be in very good shape. He also has a great group of players to show him the ropes of the NHL and get him on the fast track to stardom.