The San Jose Sharks have had an up-and-down start to the 2010-11 season. The same cannot be said, however, for rookie center Logan Couture.
Couture has been red-hot and seems only to improve with time. Despite his short tenure, he has quickly moved up from training camp hopeful to regular center on a second line that has been a terror against any and all opponents.
Some might think that Couture is bound to cool down before too long, and his hot start should, if anything, detract from hopes he may have of bringing the second-ever Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) honor to the Sharks. While that seems like sound logic, there are two big reasons why Couture stands a great chance to take some hardware home from the 2011 NHL Awards Show.
The first is his list of raw stats. In 33 games this year, Couture has 17 goals and seven assists for 24 points—leading NHL rookies in goals and points. He has amassed three two-goal games thus far and narrowly missed a hat trick on more than one occasion.
But it is more than just the numbers; Couture has been a consistent force on a second line that has kept the Sharks in contention despite spotty play from the top line. Couture has shown leadership beyond his years, and along with Ben Ferriero, Mike McCarthy, and other former AHL teammates, he has infused the Sharks with a youthful exuberance that has helped the team rebound after some tough defeats. He has a nose for the net and always seems to be close to the action.
Secondly, Couture is not getting nearly the buzz he ought to be for Calder Trophy consideration. Maybe it's playing in San Jose or maybe it's competing with higher-profile names, but Couture rarely ranks No. 1 on speculative lists of Calder candidates. He usually is subjugated to the likes of Edmonton Oilers forwards Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
This lack of notoriety could play into Couture's favor. Of course teams will be aware of the threat Couture presents due to typical film study, but perhaps they will be less wary of him than they otherwise would be if his name were being bantered about by every talking head on Versus.
Couture's relative lack of hype could help him continue to pile up the stats that could make the choice all too obvious by year's end.
Furthermore, Couture's play has helped the Sharks feel much better about the possibility of potentially parting with some veteran forward presence to spark a trade for an experienced defenseman to bolster their team. Voters may not take that aspect into account, but it is yet another way Couture has added value to his team.
Keep the Faith!
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