After scoring 13 points (7G, 6A) in 12 games, Colorado left wing Gabriel Landeskog has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for February.
It was a month to remember for the 19-year-old, taken second overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Landeskog ranked third among all skaters in shots on goal (55) and led all rookies with a plus-nine rating.
His best stretch, though, was reserved for the tail end of the month — Landeskog finished February with a six-game point streak, recording 5G-5A as the Avalanche won five of six games to move within a point of the eighth in the Western Conference.
As a result, Landeskog could now be the leading Calder Trophy candidate. He’s in the top five of all significant rookie statistical categories, leading the way in goals (18), shots (208) and plus/minus (+21).
Given that Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been sidelined with shoulder injuries, Cody Hodgson has been shipped to Buffalo and New Jersey’s Adam Henrique has slowed down (scoreless in his last three games), Landeskog could end up being named the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Should be noted this is Landeskog’s first rookie of the month award.
After leading all rookies in points (6G-4A-10PTS) and moving into fourth in scoring among all first-year players, Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January.
While his month was filled with fine performances, Hodgon’s (arguably) best effort came in a 4-3 win over defending Stanley Cup champs Boston. He assisted on Vancouver’s second goal and scored the game-winner, a rocket shot that whistled past reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas:
Hodgson followed that up with an equally impressive performance against San Jose, scoring two goals in Vancouver’s 4-3 win while once again potting the game-winner. That moved Hodgson into a tie for second in rookie GWGs, one off the lead.
Also of note: The 21-year-old Toronto native is now on 30 points, becoming the highest-scoring Canucks rookie since 2000-01, when Daniel and Henrik Sedin compiled 34 and 29 points, respectively. The franchise record for rookie scoring is 60 points, held by two players — Ivan Hlinka (1981-82) and Pavel Bure (1991-92).
The Nuge posted 6G-10A-16PTS in 14 games during November, becoming the first player to win Rookie of the Month during his first two months in the league since Evgeni Malkin in 2006.
Of course, Malkin was a 20-year-old rookie that spent two years playing professionally in Russia.
Nugent-Hopkins is 18 and spent the last two years living with a billet family in Red Deer.
As for other rookies that warranted consideration: New Jersey’s Adam Henrique (5 goals, 9 assists), Nashville’s Craig Smith (3 goals, 8 assists) and Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth (6-4-1, 2.31 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) all had very good Novembers. They just simply couldn’t unseat The Nuge, who is now on pace for 89 points — which would be the most for a rookie since Alex Ovechkin notched 106 in 2005-06.
Speaking of joining elite company, Nugent-Hopkins’ five-assist outing against Chicago on Nov. 19 made him the first 18-year-old in NHL history to accomplish the feat, and just the fourth ever to get five points in a single outing. The other three? Toronto’s Jack Hamilton (Dec. 4, 1943), Winnipeg’s Dale Hawerchuk (March 13, 1982) and Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk (Jan. 19, 2002).