NHL Predictions 2012: 6 Rookies Who Could Win the Calder Trophy
Last year, the NHL had one of its best rookie classes in recent years. Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner might have been the nominees for the Calder Trophy, but there definitely others who could have had their name on the ballot.
This year, there might not be big a group competing for it, although that doesn't mean that there are not big names that will make a push for it.
It might only be October, but it's never too early to take a look at which rookies will make a difference for their team this time around.
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Drafted: First overall in 2011
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has made the Edmonton Oilers roster. Now the only question is whether he will stick with the Oilers after he plays nine games. I believe he will and make a big push for the Calder Trophy.
Whether he plays on a line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle or one with Ryan Smyth and another player, Nugent-Hopkins will be a force to be reckoned with. As much as they don't want to say it, the Oilers need Nugent-Hopkins now.
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Drafted: Second overall in 2011
Dubbed as the most NHL-ready player going into the draft, Gabriel Landeskog pretty much had an assured job as soon as his name was called by the Colorado Avalanche.
Playing in the preseason with Paul Stastny, he only totaled one assist. I have to assume that Landeskog will end up on the same line as Matt Duchene at some point, which will give him a good chance at nabbing the trophy.
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Drafted: Fourth overall in 2011
Defensemen usually don't win the Calder Trophy, as a blueliner has only won the award 10 times in its 79-year history. That being said, Adam Larsson has good a chance as any of the rookies this year to walk out with the trophy.
As he will be one of the Devils' best defensemen this year, he should gather up a good amount of points. But no matter how offensive he is, how well he plays defensively, it will be difficult for him to overcome the other offensive rookies.
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Drafted: Fifth overall in 2009
After two extra years of junior seasoning, Brayden Schenn is finally ready to make an impact in the NHL. With the shakeup in Philadelphia, Schenn should have every opportunity to contribute offensively to the team.
It's almost a shame that Philly sent him down to the minors for one game just so he won't reach a bonus in his contract that was basically impossible to reach anyway.
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Drafted: Fifth overall in 2010
Nino Niederreiter is the dark horse in this list. Had he made the New York Islanders last season, he could have very well took Michael Grabner's place on the nomination card for the Calder Trophy.
Now that he will stick with the Islanders this season, he will every chance to put up points. If the Islanders make a playoff push, Niederreiter will more than likely be a big part of it.
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Drafted: Fourth overall in 2010
There is only one way that I can see Ryan Johansen being a contender for the Calder Trophy, but if it happens, his chances will skyrocket.
If the Rick Nash-Jeff Carter combination doesn't work as well as Columbus would have liked, then they have a more than suitable backup plan and possibly a better fit with Nash then Carter. If Johansen and Nash form some chemistry, then Johansen becomes my pick for the Calder.