The NHL’s Top 5 2011/12 Rookies After The First Quarter

ryan nugent-hopkins

With the 2011-12 NHL regular season reaching the quarter mark, we now have an opportunity to analyze the front runners for the Calder Trophy, which is awarded each year to the league’s best rookie. Although it may seem too soon to crown a candidate, this list should help give you all a chance to debate amongst yourselves who deserves to be on this list, and who doesn’t.

So without further ado, here is out list of the top five rookies through the first quarter of the season. What do you think?

5. Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils (19GP, 5G, 9A, 14P)

Of all the young names mentioned in this article, Henrique may be the one player that has the advantage when it comes to the talent of his surroundings. Paired on a line with Devils captain Zach Parise, and Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrique’s point totals will continue to climb as the season progresses.

4. Luke Adam, Buffalo Sabres (23GP, 8G, 8A, 16P)

The young talent producing factory known as the Buffalo Sabres may have done it again with the likes of a 6’2” centre that has the ability to score goals in front of the net. It took him a few years to get here after being drafted in 2008, but Adam is playing well with his limited ice time.

3. Craig Smith, Nashville Predators (22GP, 7G, 9A, 16P)

The Nashville Predators manage to find diamonds in the rough wherever they happen to look.  That has as much to do with the system as it does with the willingness of the players to buy into it. Aside from the blown empty netter, which I’m sure will never happen again in his career, Smith is having a huge season by his own standards. Smith has never been deemed a goal scorer, or a playmaker for that matter, but he currently leads the Preds in points while bringing a physical element to the game. This third line center has found the best fit for himself in Nashville.

2. Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers (20GP, 9G, 5A, 14P)

The Flyers are pleasantly surprised that this 25-year-old rookie has started the season this strong, but after watching Read play this year it is a surprise that it took him this long to find a home in the NHL. The Flyers released two key centers this offseason in Richards and Carter, but they look like geniuses with guys like Matt Read filling the void. It could be that the puck is just going in the net for Read right now, however, he possess a lethal snap shot and is defensively responsible.  Because of this, he is now a sleeper to win the ROY Award.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (23GP, 10G, 14A, 24P)

At only 18 years of age this 1st overall pick has shown that he can hold his own against the caliber of competition the NHL offers. Hopkins does not bring an eye-catching flash to the game, but his propensity to play at both ends of the ice, coupled with his exceptional vision, has earned him a spot on the Oilers roster for the entire season. Hopkins was deemed too small to stay the course with the big club, but he has a tendency to avoid the big hit while still maintaining control of the puck with his unorthodox skating posture and low center of gravity.

Tags: adam henrique, craig smith, luke adam, Matt Read, NHL, rookie, ryan nugent-hopkins,