Top 10 NHL Rookies of 2011-12
10. Jared Cowen, Ottawa Senators
Cowen is a big, physical defender, who skates well. He’s fourth among all rookie defensemen scoring and is part of the reason Ottawa is in a playoff picture this year. He’s emerged as a rock on the back end for the Sens.
9. Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
There’s probably a few Flyers’ fans not to happy with Read being so high up on my list. He currently leads all rookies in goals with 16 and is 3 in the rookie scoring race, so why is he lower on this list? Because of his age. Read is 25 years old entering his rookie season, he had four full years of college hockey to develop his body and his game. If he wasn’t producing at the rate he is currently, he’d be considered a rather disappointing free agent signing.
8. Luke Adam, Buffalo Sabres
Adam sits 9th in rookie scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists but has not registered a point in nearly 2 months and 16 of his 20 points came in the first two months of play when he was centering Pominville and Vanek. He’s been a healthy scratch lately.
7. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
Landeskog hits everything that moves and will shoot the puck from anywhere and he likes to do it often. Has been consistent and noticeable all season, he currently sits 6th in rookie scoring with 30 points. He’s offensively production should be a bit higher considering he’s spent all season on the top 2 lines with the likes of Hedjuk and Stastny.
6. Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs
You don’t notice Gardiner much on the ice, which is a good thing for a rookie defenseman but when you do, you’re usually blown away by his skating ability and his positional play. He forced his way onto an NHL team that had boasted a defense of Phaneuf, Franson, Komisarek, Schenn and Liles. He now leads all rookie defensemen in scoring with 17 points.
You would have never guessed he’s only been a defenseman for 4 years. He converted in his senior year of high school.
5. Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
Henrique gets to center Parise and Kovalchuk on the top line, centers the second power play unit and even kills penalties. He does everything you want your top line center to do and even produces like one. Currently tied for first in rookie scoring with RNH, only 1 point behind the likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Mike Riberio and 1 point ahead of players like Tyler Bozak and Mikko Koivu. The only reason Henrique comes in at number 5 on my list is because of the elite linemates he gets to playing with. His production could have easily gone the way of Luke Adam if he was ever moved off the top line.
4. Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Faulk plays 22:39 a game and leads all rookies in time on ice. He’s consistently used in shutting down players like Malkin and Ovechkin, and does the job well. Hasn’t done a lot of scoring this year but has emerged as the Hurricanes number one all-round defenseman.
3. Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
He’s tied for first in rookie scoring and will likely take over the lead once he gets back from his shoulder injury. RNH is not in my top 2 for a few reason: he gets tons of ice time and he plays with very dynamic players in Hall and Eberle. I also don’t think RNH would be able to produce at the same level, offensively or defensively, if he was on any other team.
2. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
I still can’t believe Columbus traded away their first round pick for Jeff Carter. Granted the trade was made before the draft, it doesn’t make it any better. The Flyer’s were given a gift when Couturier was still available after 7 picks. Couturier centers the Flyers’ fourth line and is one of the teams main penalty killers. While his contributions don’t always show up on the scoreboard, his play allows the likes of Giroux and Briere to excel in their offensive roles.
1. Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks
No rookie does more offensively with less than Cody Hodgson. Hodgson sees the least amount of ice time among the top 5 rookie scoring leaders and has lower quality linemates. While RNH gets Eberle and Hall, Henrique gets Parise and Kovalchuk, Hodgson gets Raymond and Hansen or Lapierre and Duco. Players that don’t exactly light the lamp very often. Hodgson is second in rookie goal scoring, sits tied for 4th in points and has been a clutch goal scorer for the Canucks. Many of his goals this season have been game-winning goals, game-tying goals or momentum changing goals. Unless Hodgson finishes in the top 2 in rookie scoring, I doubt he will get much Calder consideration, which is a shame because he does deserve it.