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Rookie Rankings: Galchenyuk into top 3

First-year duo fueling Habs' rise in the Eastern Conference

Updated: February 26, 2013, 2:09 PM ET
By Grant Sonier | ESPN Insider

Playing in the NHL is a tough business, as two of the front runners for the Calder Trophy race have learned the hard way. Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues was placed on the IR after a concussion caused by a scary hit that forced him to be helped off the ice. Meanwhile Brendan Gallagher was diagnosed with a minor concussion and missed two games. Both had been playing very well but may start to slip in the wake of their injuries.

Who might seize the opportunity to grab a few additional headlines? For one, Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau has generated the most recent momentum among the first year players in the league. Last week he brought himself back into the conversation with some solid play and offensive output. This week he did not slow down and now sits second in the overall rookie scoring race and leads all rookie goal-scorers with 8 markers. But he still has a ways to go to reach the top of the peak.

Let's take a look at how things shape up this week. Statistics are through Sunday, Feb. 24.

1. Cory Conacher, forward, Tampa Bay Lightning
Previous rank: No. 1

Conacher continues to lead the scoring race among a great crop of rookies this year and while the team is struggling to find consistency, the 5-foot-8 center is nothing short of the hardest working player on the ice -- every shift. The Bolts have lots of young players in their lineup, including other rookies Richard Panik and Alex Killorn, which makes it tough to win consistently.

A fellow scouting colleague and friend said recently, "When I watch this little ball of fire play, it is hard to imagine he is a rookie. He works and makes things happen like he has played in the league for years."

In 18 games played he has 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) and is averaging 15:24 of ice time per game.

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