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Henrique faces tough competition for Calder

Thursday, 06.14.2012 / 2:36 PM / News
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Henrique faces tough competition for Calder



As more and more talented young players arrive in the NHL every season, picking the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to "the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League" becomes increasingly difficult.

The 2011-12 season is no exception, but voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association showed three rookies emerging above the rest.

New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been named this year's finalists for the Calder Trophy.

In his second professional season, Henrique became one of the season's bigger surprises. Injuries to Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson opened the door for Henrique to make the team, and he made the most of his opportunity. Henrique spent most of the season as the team's top-line center, skating between star forwards Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. He excelled in that role, and in 74 games he finished first among all rookies with 35 assists and third with 51 points. He also tied for the League lead with four shorthanded goals.

A 2008 third-round pick by the Devils, Henrique won a pair of Memorial Cup titles with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where teammates included Taylor Hall, Cam Fowler and Ryan Ellis. Having those kind of big-time players as teammates made his adjustment to playing with NHL stars a bit easier.

"He's a good player," Parise said earlier this season. "You can tell he's patient with the puck, he makes good plays. Most importantly, [Kovalchuk] and I tell him to relax and make the good play. Don't feel obligated to pass to either one of us, just make the smart play and he's done that."

Henrique is the first Devils player to finish in the top three in the voting since Scott Gomez, who won the award in 2000.

While Henrique's play might have surprised many, Landeskog excelling as an 18-year-old was no surprise. Touted as the most NHL-ready player in the 2011 NHL Draft, the Avalanche took him with the second pick and watched him excel almost from the time he arrived in Denver.

He tied for the lead among all rookies with 52 points and was second with 22 goals. He led the Avalanche with a plus-20 rating while averaging 18:36 of ice time per game, tops among first-year forwards, and he was one of just four rookies to average more than 1:20 per game on both the power play and on the penalty kill.

"He's a rookie, but he plays like a veteran out there," Avs defenseman Shane O'Brien told NHL.com. "He acts like a veteran."

"He's such a great guy, coming in and having the success he's had and still working hard and not letting the success get to his head at all," linemate Ryan O'Reilly added. "It's a huge thing and it's a great thing for the team. Definitely, he's been phenomenal all year."

Landeskog is the second Avalanche player in three years to finish as a finalist. Teammate Matt Duchene was third in 2010. The last Avalanche player to win the Calder was Chris Drury in 1999.

While Landeskog's spot in the NHL on opening night was expected, some weren't as sure about Nugent-Hopkins, despite his status as the first player taken in the 2011 draft, because of his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame. However, he had a goal in his first game and a hat trick in his third, silencing all doubters.

He finished with 52 points despite playing only 62 games -- 20 fewer than Landeskog -- because of a shoulder injury. The youngest regular in the NHL this season -- he didn't turn 19 until April 12 -- he had 18 goals, three multi-goal games, and five assists in a game, Nov. 19 against Chicago. He was the fourth-ever 18-year-old to have a five-assist game, and the first since Kovalchuk on Jan. 19, 2002.

Nugent-Hopkins is the first Oilers player to finish in the top three in Calder voting since Grant Fuhr finished third in 1982.

"He makes it looks so easy, but it's hard," Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said of Nugent-Hopkins' passing skills.

All three Calder Trophy nominees made playing in the NHL look easy.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51