Cross Checks: Adam Henrique

From the NHL's official release:


NEW YORK (March 10, 2014) – Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin, Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov and New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the period ending Mar. 9.


Seguin led the NHL with nine points (4-5--9) as the Stars (31-23-10) earned six of a possible eight points for the week, strengthening their hold on the second Wild Card position in the Western Conference. Seguin notched one assist in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres Mar. 3 and tallied five points, including his third hat trick of the season, in a 6-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Mar. 6. He finished the week by tallying a goal and two assists in a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild Mar. 8. Seguin's eight-point outburst was the most points by a Stars player in a two-game span since the 1992-93 season, when Mike Modano notched 3-5--8 from Feb. 1-3. The 22-year-old Brampton, Ont. native ranks fifth in NHL scoring with a team-leading 66 points (29-37--66), while his Stars-high 29 goals is tied for sixth overall.


Anisimov recorded four goals, including three game-winners, as the Blue Jackets (33-26-5) recorded three victories in four starts to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. After closing the previous week by scoring the game-winning goal against Florida Mar. 1, Anisimov became the first player in Blue Jackets history to score the game-winner in three consecutive games with deciding tallies on Mar. 3 at Toronto (2-1) and Mar. 4 vs. Dallas (two goals, 4-2). After the streak ended at Chicago on Mar. 6, he registered the club’s fourth consecutive game-winner with a third-period goal in a 1-0 win at Nashville on Mar. 8. The 25-year-old Yaroslavl, Russia, native has collected 19-14--33 in 64 games this season, setting a career high in goals.


Henrique tallied a League-leading five goals last week, powering the Devils (28-24-13) to two wins in three starts. Henrique notched one goal in a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Mar. 4, scored twice in a 7-4 loss to Detroit Mar. 7 and finished the week recording a pair of goals in a 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Mar. 8. Henrique's two-goal performance extended his goal streak to six games, during which he's tallied nine times. The only player with a longer goal streak in the League this season is Anaheim's Corey Perry, who scored in seven consecutive games from Nov. 29 to Dec. 11. The 24-year-old Brantford, Ont., native leads the Devils in goals with a career-high 23 in 65 games.
From the official NHL release:


NEW YORK (March 3, 2014) – Detroit Red Wings right wing Johan Franzen , New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique and Minnesota Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 2.


Franzen posted 3-2—5 in two games to lead the Red Wings (28-20-12, 68
points) to a pair of road wins following the Olympic break, helping the club maintain the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. He assisted on both goals in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb.
26, including the primary helper on Gustav Nyquist’s overtime winner with
27.3 seconds remaining. Franzen then recorded three goals, including the game-winner, for his sixth career hat trick – and first since Nov. 8, 2011 – in a 6-1 triumph over the Ottawa Senators Feb. 27. The 34-year-old Vetlanda, Sweden, native ranks fifth on the Red Wings in scoring despite missing 27 games due to injury, tallying 12-16—28 in 33 appearances.


Henrique recorded three consecutive multi-point games, sharing the League lead in goals (4), points (6) and power-play goals (2) to power the Devils (26-23-13, 65 points) to two wins in three starts. He tallied two goals – including his ninth career game-winner and eighth career shorthanded marker – for his first multi-goal performance since March 13, 2013, in a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 27. Henrique then collected 1-1—2 in each of the next two games: a 6-1 triumph over the New York Islanders March 1 and a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks March 2.
The 24-year-old Brantford, Ont., native ranks third on the Devils with
18-15—33 in 62 games this season, including a team-leading seven power-play goals and two shorthanded tallies.


Kuemper stopped 51 of the 52 shots he faced to post a 2-0-0 record with a 0.48 goals-against average, .981 save percentage and one shutout, helping the Wild (33-21-7, 73 points) remain in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. He made 21 saves for his second career shutout in a
3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Feb. 27. Kuemper then recorded 30 saves – and denied all seven shootout attempts he faced – to pick up a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Feb. 28. The 23-year-old Saskatoon, Sask., native has appeared in 17 games this season (including 14 consecutive starts), compiling a 10-3-2 record with a 2.20 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

LAS VEGAS -- Interesting dynamic Tuesday on the eve of the NHL awards as rookie of the year nominee Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils was sitting not far from Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. The last time they would have seen each other was shaking hands after the Kings claimed their first-ever Stanley Cup with a Game 6 victory over the Devils.

It’s still a little soon for the Devils to be looking at the positives of advancing to their first final series since 2003.

“Yeah, there’s still one team ahead of us," Henrique said. "It’ll be disappointing for a while. Until you get that chance to get back and redeem yourself.

“To get so close you can taste it, you can feel it, two wins away. Now 120 games away again, so as a young guy being my first year to go that far and to play in the finals and experience it is a real learning experience for me and something I’ll never forget.”

Henrique followed up a strong rookie campaign with a solid playoff season, scoring three game winners.

Like the rest of the Devils and their fans, Henrique will be closely monitoring what happens with captain Zach Parise, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“It’s been there all year, the questions for him," Henrique said. "I’m sure they’ve always been there. He’s a huge part of our team, he’s the cornerstone and a guy that we rely on heavily. He’s a big reason why we got to the finals. So I want to see him back. I think he wants to come back and I’m sure everybody in New Jersey wants him back. Hope to see him there for camp.”

A Quick turn

As for Quick, he is in an unusual position, potentially replicating Tim Thomas’ star turn of a year ago when the Bruins netminder won the Vezina Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and the Stanley Cup. No goalie had hit for the netminding triple crown since Bernie Parent in 1975. Now Quick, who is up against Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne for the Vezina, has a chance to do it just one year later.

He admitted it has been a bit of a blur since winning the Cup.

“It is certainly a bit of a whirlwind,” Quick said. "You’re just trying to take your time and kind of enjoy as much of it as you can before it’s over. Obviously it’s one of the coolest things ever, being able to win the Cup and everything, but at this point we’re already getting our workout schedules for the summer in order. We’re already kind of starting to prepare for next year. But I don’t know if it fully has sunk in yet. It’s been amazing."

Weber avoids spotlight

Following the Nashville Predators’ disappointing loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round of the playoffs, Norris Trophy nominee and Preds captain Shea Weber said he’s been keeping a pretty low profile.

He returned to his summer home in Kelowna, British Columbia, and thanks to unpleasant weather has been housebound for much of the time.

“It was tough this year I think with all the recognition we had,” he said. "A lot of people in Canada knew how close we were and how much of a chance we had this year, so it’s tough to go home and hear from a lot of people, so I just kind of stay to myself."

A year ago Weber, who can become a restricted free agent this July, was in the midst of a surprising arbitration case with the Predators. This summer has been a lot calmer, he said.

Last summer “didn’t go as anyone planned or wanted, so I think this year we’re on the same page. I think we know kind of where each other is headed and what the goals are,” Weber added.

Of course Weber will be watching what happens with longtime defense partner Ryan Suter, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“It’s his decision," Weber said. "It’s a personal thing for him and his family. Whatever he feels best for him but obviously we’d love to have him in Nashville. I’d love to play with him for as long as I could. It’s going to be obviously a period where we’re watching to see what happens, but I don’t think you can stress about it or work yourself up too much."

Weber also didn’t back off on comments he made to a Canadian radio station suggesting he felt “betrayed” by teammate Alexander Radulov, who broke curfew along with Andrei Kostitsyn during their series against Phoenix.

“It’s a tough situation," Weber said. "Obviously he can’t take back what he did, but on the other hand, I was one of the guys that stuck up for him and wanted to have him back and for something like that to happen in the playoffs in the biggest game probably of our career to that point is just disappointing. I know how good of a player he is, it just kind of wasn’t a good feeling.”

Empty locker in Detroit

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, nominated once again for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the game’s top defensive forward, still isn’t used to the idea that he’ll report to training camp and not see No. 5 Nicklas Lidstrom in the dressing room.

He joked that it’s all a bad dream.

“Actually it’s not really good dream," Datsyuk said. "But I’m never thinking about this dream, it’s like a nightmare. I’m still not like believing that this has happened. Maybe once the season start it’ll be different story."

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It shouldn’t be any kind of a shock at this point in the proceedings. Still, it always seems just a little incongruous to see Ilya Kovalchuk on the ice in the waning moments of a game in which the New Jersey Devils are protecting a lead.

In the old days, of course, if Kovalchuk was on the ice in that situation, it meant he’d slipped over the boards while Bob Hartley or any of the other NHL coaches he has played under happened to be looking the other way.

That Pete DeBoer has for a long time shown no hesitation in using Kovalchuk thusly, that he trusts him to do the right thing, get the puck out of danger, not get caught behind the play, is merely a reflection of his significant maturation as a player and a person.

It was so again in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, when Kovalchuk and linemates Zach Parise and Travis Zajac enjoyed their best game of the series as the Devils squeaked out a 2-1 victory to set up a sixth game in Los Angeles on Monday night.

We had a chance to chat with Kovalchuk’s longtime pal from their shared days in Atlanta, Dany Heatley, not long ago, and DeBoer’s confidence in Kovalchuk was not lost on Heatley.

Neither was he surprised by any of it.

Heatley recalled a visit with Kovalchuk before Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the 2010 trade deadline. Usually it was the two friends hanging out having dinner. But on this night, Kovalchuk had his wife and children in tow.

"It kind of hit me that he’s grown up," Heatley said. "I think you see that [maturity] in his game, too.

"The guy’s had such a great career."

Perhaps because he played on teams that weren’t high profile or Cup contenders, as was the case first in Atlanta and then when he first arrived in New Jersey, his accomplishments have been underappreciated, Heatley suggested.

Now a member of the Minnesota Wild, Heatley will always remember with great fondness breaking into the NHL with Kovalchuk in Atlanta.

Kovalchuk was the first overall pick in the 2001 draft, a year after Heatley was the second overall pick. They roomed together, and it was Heatley who would regularly order food -- either in restaurants or via room service -- for Kovalchuk, whose English still needed some work.

Former GM Don Waddell likewise has memories about Kovalchuk and his evolution from a shy Russian teen to the family man he has become today.

Even from the moment he met Kovalchuk before drafting him, Waddell said he was impressed with Kovalchuk’s knowledge of the NHL game.

"He’d done his homework and followed the NHL. To me that just showed his whole passion, not just for his game, but to play in the NHL," Waddell said.

Although Kovalchuk might not have been a defensive stalwart, Waddell said he never once had to sit Kovalchuk down to ask him to work harder. Sometimes people misconstrue a lack of defensive responsibility with a lack of effort, Waddell said. They are separate qualities.

Off the ice, Waddell recalled that when tailors would come by the practice rink to offer specially-made suits to the players, Kovalchuk made sure that the training staff would also get suits made and that he would pick up the tab.

"Kovy’s a very generous person," Waddell said. "I’m proud of him. I’m proud of him as a person."

Humble Henrique in the middle of it all

There were a couple of mighty scrums in the third period of Game 5. One involved veteran forwards Jeff Carter and 40-year-old New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur.

The other occurred at the other end of the ice and involved Kings netminder Jonathan Quick and Devils rookie Adam Henrique.

Now, in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals, the last place you might expect to find many NHL rookies will be under a pile of opposing players with his nose in the opposing team’s crease.

But in many ways Henrique isn’t like most NHL rookies.

The Calder Trophy nominee as rookie of the year was, of course, the hero in Game 4, scoring on a delightful play late in the third period to give the Devils a 3-1 victory.

We talked to Henrique’s old Windsor Spitfires teammate Ryan Ellis in the wake of that goal and he said what struck him about Henrique’s play was the matter-of-fact nature of the aftermath.

He didn’t launch himself into the glass. He didn’t ride his stick like a pony a la Tiger Williams but merely skated back toward the bench with his arms stretched in the air.

"It was typical Henrique," Ellis, now with the Nashville Predators, told "I can’t say I’m really too surprised."

While in Windsor, Henrique might not have had the highest profile on a team chock full of top-end players such as Taylor Hall, who went first overall to the Oilers in the 2010 draft, or Ellis, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft.

Henrique wasn’t selected until the 82nd pick in the 2008 draft and started this season in the minors before assuming significant responsibilities with the Devils.

"That’s how he plays," Ellis said. "He kind of leads by example. He’s always calm and cool."

And if there wasn’t much attention paid to him while in junior hockey, "he sure deserves it now," Ellis said.

Certainly there was no one more relieved by the New Jersey Devils' win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 than rookie Adam Henrique.

The hero of Game 7 in the first round against Florida was tied for the game high with four shots and likely had half a dozen glorious scoring chances on his stick but was held off the score sheet.

“You noticed that? Oh my God. I don’t think there’s anybody more relieved than me right now,” the Calder Trophy finalist told

“Obviously, [when] you get chances it gets frustrating you don’t get one. You get so many chances like that. But hats off, [Bryzgalov] played a great game. Tried to keep my cool, stay with it. And when Larsson got that one four-on-four, I was so happy for him and just a little bit of relief and then, you know, the next couple of goals, and I’m probably the most relieved guy here."

Morning jam: Game 7 facts

April, 27, 2012
• Adam Henrique scored in the second overtime period to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over the Panthers. The only other rookie to score an overtime goal in the seventh game of a NHL playoff series was Claude Lemieux for the Canadiens against the Hartford Whalers in a second-round series in 1986.

Martin Brodeur (age 39) and Jose Theodore (35) were the goaltenders in the Devils victory over the Panthers. It marked only the third time in NHL history that a pair of goalies, both age 35 or older, faced each other in Game 7 of a playoff series. The others were Dominik Hasek (Red Wings) vs. Patrick Roy (Avalanche) in 2002, and Tim Thomas (Bruins) vs. Dwayne Roloson (Lightning) last year.

• Marc Staal and Dan Girardi gave the Rangers a two-goal lead and Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 26 shots in the Rangers' 2-1 victory over the Senators. It was first time in Rangers history that a pair of defensemen gave them a 2-0 lead in a playoff game, and it was only the second Game 7 in NHL history in which defensemen provided all the scoring for the winning team. Maybe some of our senior-most readers would know the name of Leo Reise Jr., a Red Wings defenseman who scored an overtime goal in Detroit's 1-0 victory over Toronto in the 1950 NHL semifinals.

Honorable mention to Brian Leetch, who scored the first two goals for the Rangers in a playoff victory over the Flyers in 1995, as did Ott Heller in a 1932 win over the Canadiens.
From the official NHL release:


NEW YORK (April 20, 2012) -- Center Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils, left wing Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers are the three finalists for the
2011-12 Calder Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2012 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2012 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Calder Trophy, in alphabetical

Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils

A third-round pick by the Devils in 2008 and winner of back-to-back Memorial Cups with the OHL Windsor Spitfires in 2009 and 2010, Henrique filled a crucial void in the Devils lineup following an Achilles injury to No. 1 center Travis Zajac, who missed all but 15 games this season.
Henrique made the most of his opportunity by tallying 51 points (16 goals,
35 assists) in 74 games, mostly centering wings Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. He led all rookies in assists and shorthanded goals (four), ranked third in rookie scoring and posted the NHL's longest point streak among freshmen (seven games, Nov. 25 to Dec. 8).

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Selected second overall at the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog assumed a leading role on an Avalanche club that improved by 20 points over its
2010-11 total. Landeskog posted 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games, capturing the rookie scoring title in a tie-breaker over Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (18-34--52) on the basis of more goals. Landeskog ranked second among rookies in goals and third in assists, making him the only rookie among the top three in all three categories. The 19-year-old left wing led all rookies and set a Colorado franchise record with 270 shots on goal and was the only rookie to lead his club in goals.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

A spectacular start to his NHL career quickly ended speculation where Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, would spend the 2011-12 season. He notched the game-tying goal in the season opener against Pittsburgh, tallied a hat trick in his third career game and became the first 18-year-old in League history to tally five assists in one game, against Chicago on Nov. 19. Nugent-Hopkins went on to finish in a tie for first place among rookies in points with 52 (18 goals, 34 assists) despite missing 20 games due to injury. His point-per-game average of .84 was the best among rookies.


From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, NHL President Frank Calder purchased a trophy each year to be given permanently to the NHL’s outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the League presented the Calder Trophy in his memory.

Announcement Schedule

The NHL is announcing the three finalists for each of its awards through April 30. The remaining announcement schedule:

Monday, April 23

Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) and Lady Byng Trophy

Tuesday, April 24

Masterton Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey) and General Manager of the Year

Wednesday, April 25

Vezina Trophy (top goaltender)

Thursday, April 26

Norris Trophy (top defenseman)

Friday, April 27

Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team)

Monday, April 30

Jack Adams Award (top head coach) and NHL Foundation Player Award (community service)

Trophy Tracker: Calder Trophy

March, 28, 2012
The league’s professional hockey writers have a difficult choice as they try to sort through which first-year player is deserving of this year’s Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Although there are a handful of rookies whose names have come up in discussion throughout the year, it appears as though it’s going to come down to a two-person race between a couple of teenagers -- last year’s first-overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, and fellow Northwest Division rookie Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, who was taken one pick later in that draft.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
We’re not punishing Nugent-Hopkins for missing time with injury (has played in 56 games to Landeskog’s 78 games), but there is something to be said for durability, especially given the more physical style of game Landeskog plays. Yes, Nugent-Hopkins has produced points at a significantly higher rate than Landeskog, as the two entered action Wednesday tied for the rookie scoring lead with 49 points apiece, but there is also Landeskog’s overall game to consider. The 19-year-old Landeskog leads all rookie forwards in average ice time per game. He is just the second rookie ever and the first rookie forward to hit the 20-goal and 200-hit plateau (Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf is the other rookie to reach those numbers). Landeskog leads the Avs in goals, plus/minus, shots, hits and game-winning goals. He is the only rookie to lead his team in goals, which is a significant achievement given that his team is still in the hunt for a postseason berth. Landeskog’s five game winners are tied with Matt Read of Philadelphia for the rookie lead.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Had Nugent-Hopkins not missed time with two separate injuries this season, this Calder Trophy race might be a walk-off for last June’s first overall pick. But he did miss that time and it might cost him the hardware, fair or not. Still, a fine season for a player about whom there was much discussion last fall regarding his ability to adjust to the physical grind of life in the NHL at age 18 (he won’t turn 19 until next month). No need to worry, as he is tied for the rookie scoring lead and his points per game (.88) are significantly better than any other first-year player (Landeskog is at .62, while Adam Henrique of New Jersey, who ranks third in rookie scoring, is at .69). There is also the fact that Nugent-Hopkins is putting up impressive numbers for a perpetually rebuilding Edmonton Oilers club.

Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
Henrique has been a terrific story for the Devils since being called up from the American Hockey League after a so-so training camp. His 48 points are one off the rookie scoring pace, and he leads all first-year players with 32 assists. With the Devils thin down the middle, thanks to injuries to players such as Travis Zajac, Henrique, the 82nd overall pick in 2008, has responded to the challenge and leads all rookies in faceoffs won. Only Landeskog is logging more ice time on average among first-year forwards. Although he has often centered Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, Henrique has shown his versatility moving to the wing with Zajac’s return to the lineup in recent days.

Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
As the season has worn on and the Flyers have incurred more injuries to key personnel, more has been asked of Read, and he’s answered very nicely. Read is tied with Landeskog for the rookie lead in goals with 22 and tied for the rookie lead with five game-winning goals. He is among the league-leading rookies in power play time per game and penalty-killing time per game, an indication of the trust that coach Peter Laviolette has shown in the undrafted native of Ilderton, Ontario. His average ice time ranks fourth overall among rookie forwards.

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Although it’s always a little bit harder to judge the impact of first-year defensemen, Faulk has made a case not just to be mentioned as a Calder Trophy candidate but to be on the final ballot. The Canes have made a significant turnaround after a disastrous start that cost coach Paul Maurice his job, and Faulk’s role in that improved play cannot be understated. He leads all first-year defensemen in goals and power-play goals and is second in points to Toronto rookie Jake Gardiner. The 37th overall pick in 2010 also leads all first-year players in average ice time per game, and those minutes are logged for the most part against the opposing team’s top lines. As for his importance to the Canes, Faulk leads all Carolina defensemen in average ice time, even-strength ice time and power-play ice time, and he has played in only 61 games, having played in the AHL at the beginning of the season.

Honorable Mention: Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers; Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs; Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres; Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings; Jared Cowen, Ottawa Senators

Trophy Tracker: Calder Trophy

February, 1, 2012
Injuries to top rookies like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Henrique have served to tighten a rookie of the year race that early on looked to be a runaway for Nugent-Hopkins. Now, the field has closed considerably with strong performances from first-year players in Philadelphia, Carolina and New Jersey; all of which will make for some interesting storylines as the NHL heads into its final 2½ months.


Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils

The surprising Adam Henrique has hit a bit of a wall as he’s been held without a point in four straight games and has been bothered by a nagging groin problem. Henrique remains second among all rookie scorers, one point behind Nugent-Hopkins, but he missed the Devils’ first post-All-Star break game against the New York Rangers and is considered day-to-day. But Henrique’s play through the first half of the season was crucial to the Devils' assuming a place in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. He leads all first-year forwards in average ice time per game, an indication of the level of trust head coach Pete DeBoer has in him.


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

It is a measure of the superlative season being enjoyed by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins that the first overall pick from last June’s draft remains the leading rookie scorer in the NHL in spite of not playing for a month with a shoulder injury. It would be a shame if a top Edmonton rookie was denied a shot at the Calder for the second year in a row because of injury, but that’s a very real possibility. Last season, Taylor Hall missed the last part of the season with an ankle injury. But Nugent-Hopkins is listed as day-to-day, so his return could make the Calder discussion a lot more interesting in the coming days.


Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks

The path to NHL success hasn’t always been easy for Cody Hodgson, the 10th overall pick in 2008, but he has seen his stock rise dramatically in the past couple of months. The talented center has recorded points in 12 of his past 18 games and his five power-play goals are second only to Nashville’s Craig Smith among first-year players.


Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers

With the Flyers dealing with injuries to key forwards Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr (Jagr did return to action Tuesday night), more is being asked of the Flyers’ collection of top-end rookie performers such as Matt Read. Although he’s gone three games without a point, Read has moved into third overall in rookie scoring and is fourth among all first-year players with a plus-11. His three game-winning goals have him tied for the league lead among rookies with three others.


Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

Although New Jersey’s Adam Larsson has received most of the ink this season when it comes to first-year defensemen -- and with good reason -- it would be unwise to ignore the impact Justin Faulk has had on the Carolina Hurricanes. Faulk leads all first-year players in average ice time per game at 22:32, and GM Jim Rutherford pointed out to Wednesday that Faulk is logging those minutes against other teams’ best players. The 37th overall pick in 2010 has 11 points, and Rutherford noted that his minus-10 can be explained in large part by being paired with Tomas Kaberle earlier in the season. He has been an even or plus player in seven of his past eight games.

Honorable Mention: Craig Smith, Nashville Predators; Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche; Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils; Colin Greening, Ottawa Senators; Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers.
There’s been a lot of see-sawing through the first quarter of the NHL season when it comes to the top rookies in the NHL and there are lots of exciting first-year players making significant impacts throughout the league. Don’t doubt there will continue to be ebb and flow as that’s the nature of rookie play, but here’s a look at our top five rookies and some honorable mentions.

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers

Really didn’t have much trouble assigning the first overall pick in June’s draft with the top spot in our Trophy Tracker, given the tear Nugent-Hopkins has been on. With eight points in his past three games, Nugent-Hopkins has opened up a seven-point lead over Craig Smith of the Nashville Predators with 22 points in 21 games. Pretty impressive for the 18-year-old phenom.

Nugent-Hopkins is in a unique position in that the Oilers continue to lean heavily on their cadre of young players as opposed to having their youngsters learn the ropes while veterans do the bulk of the heavy lifting. When it looked like the Oilers had hit a significant wall during a recent road trip, it was the kids and especially Nugent-Hopkins, who answered the bell, and that bodes well for an Oilers team that continues to enjoy an unexpected place in the middle of the Western Conference playoff mix.

2. Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers

A little older at age 25, Read is part of a promising group of youngsters playing significant roles with the Flyers. Read has scored in five straight games and now leads all rookies with nine goals. He has 14 points in 17 games and is plus-7. Perhaps as impressive is that head coach Peter Laviolette trusts Read in important situations, including the penalty kill, where he is averaging almost three minutes a game. Talk about a confidence-booster for the undrafted native of Ilderton, Ontario.

3. Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils

No first-year defenseman has had the impact Larsson has had with the Devils. He leads all first-year players in average ice time by a significant margin. Head coach Pete DeBoer employs him on average 23:02 a night. No other rookie exceed 21 minutes a night in ice time. Larsson leads all rookies in even-strength time on ice and all rookies in power-play time per game. Pretty impressive for the 19-year-old who was the fourth overall pick and is playing in his first season in North America.

4. Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils

Although Henrique is somewhat overshadowed by Larsson in New Jersey, the 21-year-old already has had point streaks of three and four games for a Devils team that was desperate for scoring punch down the middle with the injury to Travis Zajac. In just 16 games, Henrique has 11 points on four goals and seven assists, good for fifth in rookie scoring. He has scored two game winners.

5. Craig Smith, Nashville Predators

Smith has hit a bit of a dry patch with just one assist in his past five games and still he ranks second among all rookies with 15 points. His three power-play goals is first among rookies. We recently spoke with GM David Poile and head coach Barry Trotz about Smith’s rapid evolution as a player and they credit his experience at the University of Wisconsin under head coach Mike Eaves as a major factor.

Honorable mentions: Sean Couturier, Philadelphia; Slava Voynov, Los Angeles; Justin Faulk, Minnesota; Colin Greening, Ottawa; Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado.