The NHL has announced its three finalists for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top rookie. This year, the nominees are New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
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.
[Landeskog] 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.
[Nugent-Hopkins] 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.
1) Snubs include Philly’s Matt Read (led all rookies with 24 goals), Buffalo’s Cody Hodgson (played in 83 games!) and Rangers forward Carl Hagelin, who led all first-year players with a +21 rating.
2) The last Avalanche player to win the Calder was Chris Drury in 1998-99 and the last Devils player was Scott Gomez in 1999-2000. No Oiler has ever won.
3) This is the second consecutive year all three nominees were forwards. Last year, Logan Couture, Jeff Skinner and Michael Grabner were the three finalists — the last non-forwards to be nominated for the Calder were Jimmy Howard and Tyler Myers in 2009-10 (the latter would end up winning.)
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.