5 Reasons Tampa Bay's Cory Conacher Is a Candidate for Rookie of the Year

Eric SteitzAnalyst IIIFebruary 10, 2013

5 Reasons Tampa Bay's Cory Conacher Is a Candidate for Rookie of the Year

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    This year’s rookie class is full of talented young stars that are all staking their claim at rookie of the year honors. One player that should be the front-runner for the Calder Trophy this season is Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher.

    A lot of attention gets focused on St. Louis Blues rookie Vladimir Tarasenko and Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz. Quietly though, in the hockey haven of Tampa Bay, Cory Conacher is putting together a solid season.

    His performance through the first quarter of 2013 makes him a favorite for the rookie of the year award, and here is why.

Goal Scoring

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    Through 10 games, Cory Conacher is tied for the NHL rookie lead with five goals. While Tarasenko gets credit for his slick moves, it’s Conacher who finds the back of the net by going to the gritty areas and picking up some garbage goals. 

    Playing on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell, Conacher has found open ice often. He also plays on the power play for over two and a half minutes per game.

Forechecking

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    Whatever you want to call it, Cory Conacher has an outstanding motor. He shows that off on a nightly basis with an aggressive forecheck. 

    His applied pressure has forced two takeaways this season. He also has two hits to his credit. Conacher provides gritty energy for the Lightning from a talented and highly skilled forward. 

    His unstoppable motor does get him out of position on occasion, but that can be expected from a rookie. 

Vision

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    Conacher is a speedy forward who uses his size (or lack thereof) to create havoc on defenses. As he skates his circles around defenses, he has great vision and has helped his linemates to find the back of the net. 

    The undrafted winger has a solid offensive presence and provides solid breakouts for the Bolts when needed in the defensive end. 

    He leads all rookies with seven assists in 10 games.

Situational Awareness

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    The Lightning’s aggressive offensive attack makes them vulnerable to counter attacks. Surprisingly, Conacher is tied for the NHL rookie lead in plus/minus at plus-6. 

    Conacher’s quick play allows for creative plays in the offensive end and takes pressure off the older forwards like Lecavalier. He may play a little fast for his own good on occasion, but the Lightning will take that if he can maintain his high rating.

Complete Player

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    For a rookie, Conacher is one of the more complete players in the game. He has grit, speed, a skilled set of hands, good vision and strong situational awareness. 

    Heading into the fourth week of the season, Conacher either leads or is tied for the rookie lead in four offensive categories. He is scoring on over 25 percent of his shots. 

    As the season progresses, Conacher will emerge as the favorite for the Calder Trophy. He isn’t as pure as a goal scorer as Tarasenko, but he is a more complete player than the rest of the candidates. 

    The Lightning are hoping he can keep up the pace for the next few months.