The video really speaks for itself. The most talented player in a fairly weak 2011 draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has surpassed expectations in Edmonton. With 52 points in 62 games, for a 0.84 point per game pace, he was a light on an Oilers team that needed guidance. Centring a line with fellow 1st overall pick Taylor Hall and Canadian forward Jordan Eberle, he proved himself to be a versatile, point-producing player until a shoulder injury sustained January 2nd against the Chicago Blackhawks put him on the shelf.
When the season begun, many doubted his size. His skill was not in question, but was his 6’1 175 pound frame ready for the rigours of an 82 game NHL schedule? He silenced the critics with a great rookie season and deserves to be the winner of the 2011-2012 Calder Memorial Trophy.
Edmonton rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie scoring lead with 52 points. However, Landeskog played a full 82 game season, on a team that finished a full 14 points ahead of the bottom dwelling Oilers. Landeskog only had 0.63 points-per game, a full 0.21 ppg behind Nugent-Hopkins. That may not seem like a lot, until we realize that if Nugent-Hopkins had played a full 82 game schedule, he would have scored 69 points if he had followed his current trend. Just because a player is injured does not mean that they should be penalized for it. Injuries are something that are beyond their control.
Nugent-Hopkins also played a far better game on a far worse team, attesting to his -2 rating. On a team where only 3 players who played over 60 games had plus ratings, “The Nuge’s” defensive work was evident.
The other Calder finalist is New Jersey Devil’s center Adam Henrique. While he has neither the pedigree of the other finalists, nor the talent, he makes up for it in hard work. Finishing with a total 51 points in 74 games, scored almost as many points as the other two finalists. Remember that although his point total is high, he is 3 years older than both Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins. He was also playing on a playoff bound Devil’s team that featured far more veterans that either Colorado or Edmonton.
Despite missing 20 games with shoulder injuries, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems like the favourite for the Calder trophy. But don’t worry for Nugent-Hopkins’ career if he doesn’t win the Calder. Wayne Gretzky never won it either.