Gabriel Landeskog: A Case for the Calder

March 12 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) reacts after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Gabriel Landeskog is the top rookie in the NHL this season. While broad consensus on that opinion may still be gathering steam outside of Mile High Hockey, we've known for quite some time what we have in #92.

Landeskog was touted as a "mature beyond his years, complete package" type player. He has been all that and more. Sacco praises Landeskog for his all round play because he can put the 19 year-old in any and all game situations. Beyond the sound and reliable play, Landeskog boasts intangibles that put him ahead of the pack in the race for the Calder. Landy has that second level or gear or whatever, that was on display when he willed the OT game winner against Anaheim on March 12th, or when he carried the puck (and his team) into the Sabres zone in the waning seconds of the third to help setup the game tying tally with 1.5 seconds left just days ago.

Regardless of which freshmen your ballot may lean towards, this year's race for the Calder Trophy is poised to be a photo finish affair. Just a few weeks ago, NHL.com ran an article declaring New Jersey's Adam Henrique the league's top rookie and THE leading candidate for the prestigious award. Landeskog, perhaps spurred by that premature endorsement, has simply gone on a tear since that article. In fact, he's been on a tear ever since being invited to participate in all-star weekend. Since January 21st Landy has racked up 24 points in 25 games. Impressive as that is, the Calder isn't awarded simply based on points (at least that's what I'm supposed to type), so let's examine what else Gabe does that makes him Calder worthy.

Landeskog Stat Pack:

  • Leads all Rookies in: Points, Goals, Shots (next player has 82 shots LESS), Take Aways, and Games Played
  • 1st among all rookie forwards in Average Time On Ice, playing an average of 18:28 per game
  • 2nd in Hits with 198, (Montreal Defenseman Alexei Emelin is first with 215)
  • 2nd in PP goals with 5, (Nashville's Craig Smith leads all rookies with 6)
  • 3rd in Blocked Shots among forwards with 48, behind Matt Read (52) and Adam Henrique (50)
  • Leads his team in Goals and +/-. He may be the Avs' MVP at this point. The kid has got a +19 rating on a team that has allowed 3 more goals than it has scored!! I'm sure I'm supposed to say something about corsi here, but that stat makes my head hurt so I'll leave it to the comment section.

There's a lot of good rookies enjoying solid first years. The other likely candidates for the Calder could include: Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Matt Read, the aforementioned Henrique, Craig Smith and more. Here's how the top candidates stack up against each other:

Honorable mentions: Carl Hagelin (NYR), Cody Hodgson (BUF), Craig Smith (NSH)

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

P/G

Shots

Hits

PPP

SHP

TOI

GW

Gabriel Landeskog

73

20

26

46

+19

.63

242

198

15

2

18:28

4

Adam Henrique

63

15

31

46

+10

.73

112

74

6

7

18:21

3

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

50

16

27

43

-4

.86

102

29

22

0

17:32

2

Matt Read

67

19

20

39

+11

.58

138

68

9

2

17:16

5

Notes: Both Matt Read and Adam Henrique spend more time on the penalty kill than Landeskog. While both Matt Read and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spend more time on the powerplay than Landy.

Henrique and RNH will probably shake out to be the other finalists for Top Rookie. If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had avoided multiple injuries to his slight frame, he probably would have run away with the Calder and saved the engraving company that prepares the trophies some headaches and stress. But his boyish build was the one knock on RNG coming into the season, and it proved to be a factor.

As for Henrique, he's good. We saw him last night as the two talented rookies squared off head to head. He's also 22, 3 year's older than Landeskog, has a pro-season under his belt, and plays on a better team with All-Star linemates Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Landy has played primarily alongside Ryan O`Reilly, Daniel Winnik, and Steve Downie. Landeskog has done more with less.

The Calder race this season is a tight one with many worthy candidates, but don't be surprised if Gabriel Landeskog wins the trophy this June, because that's what Gabriel Landeskog does. He wins.

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