LANDSLIDE FOR LANDESKOG?

Robin Brownlee
March 26 2012 08:45PM

While it's not surprising an overwhelming number of fans of the Edmonton Oilers consider Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the favourite to win the Calder Trophy, most Western Conference coaches think Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog is the top rookie of 2011-2012.

In an informal poll of 11 coaches – Tom Renney of the Oilers and Joe Sacco of Colorado weren't included – done by TSN's Bob McKenzie, nine coaches gave Landeskog the nod while just two went with Nugent-Hopkins. The link to the TSN video is here.

Nugent-Hopkins, who doesn't celebrate his 19th birthday until April 12, leads all rookie scorers with 18-31-49 despite missing 20 of the 76 games the Oilers have played. He's even in plus-minus and has averaged 17:36 of ice time per game.

Landeskog, 19, taken second overall in the 2011 Entry Draft right behind Nugent-Hopkins, is second in rookie scoring with 22-26-48 in 77 games. He's plus-19 and is averaging 18:34 of ice time per game.

DIFFERENT PLAYERS

It could be easily argued that Nugent-Hopkins would be running away with the rookie scoring race if hadn't missed 20 games with shoulder injuries, but the vote – which will be done by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association in all 30 NHL cities – isn't about what-ifs?

Point totals and PPG aside, the prevailing view from behind the bench seems to be that the rugged Landeskog brings more dimensions to the Avalanche than Nugent-Hopkins does to the Oilers. McKenzie puts it this way:

"Some duly noted that if Nugent-Hopkins hadn't lost the 20 games to injuries, perhaps their vote would have been different, but Landeskog's physical presence, his all-around game and the leadership won out over Nugent-Hopkins world-class skill, vision and ability to run one of the top power plays in the NHL."

If the PHWA membership sees it the same way as nine of the 11 coaches TSN polled did when it comes time to vote, the Oilers will have to wait awhile longer before one of their rookies gets his name engraved on the silverware.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 book¡e
March 27 2012, 09:59AM
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I would like to note that I disagree with all of you, every last one of you, regardless of your position. You are all biased and ignoring the facts which are obvious to me. I also disagree with the coaches. More importantly, I disagree with those of you disagreeing with the coaches. You are clearly wrong. It's sad really.

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#2 druds
March 27 2012, 12:05PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I admire Hall and Hopkins giving it the ole college try with coming to Edmonton and all, but i don't think this is going to end well for one or both for their time here in Edmonton. Management won't have this ship righted by the time these kids want out.

Oh for gods sakes can I go a day or an hour without this incessant moaning which obviously will not stop unless Katz hires you. A brilliant unappreciated hockey genius living in your Mom's basement,sitting at the computer in your three day old underwear, cursing at the injustice of Tambo and Lowe being in charge rather than you.

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#3 Raine
March 26 2012, 10:31PM
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I'm fine with RNH not winning the Calder. This kid feeds off others doubting his ability. Look what happened when they passed on him for the World Juniors...he absolutely dominated the league soon after. Look what he did when everyone doubted his ability to play in the NHL this season, he quickly became a go to guy for this team.

RNH keeps his head high and makes nay sayers eat their words. Let Landeskog win the Calder and we will see Nugent-Hopkins see himself in the top 15 in scoring next year. An individual trophy isn't of interest to a level headed guy like RNH.

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#6 Reg Dunlop
March 26 2012, 09:51PM
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No doubt, Landeskog wins the Calder. He is a better all-rounder. But, would the Oil trade RNH for him? I think not.

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#7 Bucknuck
March 26 2012, 10:08PM
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It's a tough call for me. I think Landeskog might be the more valuable player THIS YEAR. But I don't think he will be as good as RNH as early as next year. Unfortunately it isn't about who they think will be the best player. It's about most valuable to his team, and on a 28th place team with the worst faceoff percentage and a dubious plus/minus... it doesn't look good for ol' RNH.

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#8 Wanyes bastard child
March 26 2012, 10:21PM
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Rindog wrote:

RB,

Do you think the voting by the PHWA will be swayed by whether Colorado makes the playoffs or not?

I am wondering this as well to be honest.

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#9 justDOit
March 26 2012, 10:22PM
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Should the fact that RNH plays a more difficult position be considered when voting for ROTY?

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#10 John Chambers
March 27 2012, 06:34AM
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I'm fine with the hickey illuminati gushing over Gabriel. These are the same guys who've stopped making love with their wives bc they've put up pictures of Milan Lucic in their garage.

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#11 Mitch
March 27 2012, 08:09AM
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Landeskog is a more mature player you see it in his game. RNH is clearly a more elite play and will be a superstar 100pt guy or very close. This is why I don't like Renney sheilding kids when you have a 29th place team all season, give them the proper protection let them play thier game. It's really not even a race.

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#12 Petr's Jofa
March 27 2012, 08:40AM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Has there ever been co- winners with the calder before? I could see that happening this year.

No there hasn't and their won't be one this year.

This isn't a slight against the Nuge. The coaches weren't asked who the better player is, who they'd rather have, or who has more upside. The Calder is a simple question of who had the bettter rookie season. Even though Nugent-Hopkins has had a great rookie season, it's hard to argue that Langeskog's 2011-12 season wasn't better. He was strong in both ends, played tough minutes, brought his intangibles, and stayed within a few points of Nugent-Hopkins.

At the end of the year when this question goes out I'd love the reporters to ask the coaches/GMs/hockey experts "who they would vote for to win the Calder" and also ask "which rookie they would rather have moving forward". I think you'd get two different names.

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#14 Archaeologuy
March 27 2012, 08:52AM
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Obviously I think RNH is the best Rookie in the NHL. But I'm an Oilers fan, it's to be expected.

Landeskog has surpassed all of my expectations for him already. So his year has also been impressive. He brings a physicality along side his offense and it is impressive for a 19 year old.

His good +/-, the points, the goals, and against tough competition, all while his team is competing for a playoff spot. He could definitely win.

If RNH hadnt fallen into the boards he would be running away with points, probably ahead by at least a dozen and we wouldnt have this conversation. But he did.

RNH is the better offensive player, and I think his defensive game is underrated. But Landeskog is bringing more elements earlier. That's why I think he wins it, even if RNH is better.

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#15 Archaeologuy
March 27 2012, 08:54AM
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JDP wrote:

None thats my point. Why should theyre apinions be better or more valid than mine? "NHL coaches or Oiler fans" those are your words not mine

Why is my Doctor's opinion on illness better than mine?

Because he's an expert who has put a lot of time and energy into the subject and I havent.

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#16 PaperDesigner
March 27 2012, 03:28PM
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So Landeskog is physical. And, the point being...?

The NHL think tank awards far too many style points for being an effective physical player through brute physicality. It's not that that doesn't have value, but if you gave NHL coaches the choice between an effective physical player who won his battles with his strength and aggression versus a slightly better player who was under six feet and won those battles with quickness and guile, they'd take the former every time. When coaches talk about a physical dimension, sometimes I wonder if they realize that there's only two dimensions to the game--offense and defense. If you advance the puck well, regardless of how you do it, you deserve a role. But coaches and GMs don't think that way, which seems to be why Omark is going to get flushed, despite being arguably better than some of the larger bodies that will remain on this roster (and if he isn't better, they certainly haven't given him time to prove it).

Landeskog is having a nice season. Nugent-Hopkins is having a season that would put him in the top twenty five in NHL scoring if he had a full season to work with, and doing it at a position that requires more defensive duties to begin with. Who's more impressive? The player who's already approaching elite level talent in his rookie year.

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#17 BigE91
March 26 2012, 08:49PM
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Just curious Robin, in your days working at local papers did you ever have a vote in matters such as this or other awards? And if so how did you go about making your decision?

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#18 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
March 26 2012, 08:51PM
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Is it possible that there is a bias towards US teams by coaches Would the low standing of the team lower RNH's standing as well?

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#19 Smokey
March 26 2012, 08:58PM
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We all know we got an the more elite player. Landeskog can have the trophy, we will take the cups. Go Nugey...

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#21 revingev
March 26 2012, 09:05PM
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maybe, just maybe, the Oilers PP has been top 3 BECAUSE of RNH. While I can agree Landy has done well this season, I see no way he has shown the same overall game that RNH brings to the Oilers. RNH does not get much respect in way of his two way game, because he looks so slick and doesnt hit much. Plus/minus should have very little too do with the voting IMO.

I actually think many have been forcasting him as a great player for quite some time pumping his tires. IN fact I would consider Adam Henrique to be a better all around player. Players that are more charasmatic on the ice and hitting, bumping etc... usually get easy voters attention. In spite of all I hear, I still think if RNH can continue a point a game till end of season and improve his [plus/minus a couple we see him walk away with the hardware. If Avalanche make the playoffs, voters will pick Landy hands down I think.

GL Nuge!

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#22 Racki
March 26 2012, 09:09PM
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I think the Oilers often don't get the respect they really should, and it always feels that other team's stars get a bit more limelight than ours do. However even so, I'd say that I'd give the Calder to Landeskog. He just brings a more complete game. He isn't as skilled offensively as Nuge, as far as I'm concerned, but he's already able to play a regular, hard shift on a regular basis and do well.

The tough thing is, I don't think the Nuge is all that bad against tough opposition either. We've seen him and Hall/Eberle embarrass Suter and Weber, playing keep away. We've seen the Nuge "School" Nick Lidstrom. I guess fault the coach (tongue in cheek) for sheltering Nugent-Hopkins. I think it was the best to do for his development, and it helped him pad his numbers, but it didn't do anything for bragging rights in the advanced stats when you look deeper. He hasn't proven to be able to play the toughs on a regular basis, and perhaps his struggles on the road even warn that he isn't quite ready yet. But I think even so, he looks pretty good and is a better 2-way player than people give him credit for. You don't always have to be able to bang bodies to take the puck away and play responsible defense.

But yah, all that said, I still give it to Landeskog. I just think that Nuge's completeness as a player is a bit underrated because he doesn't play crash and bang hockey.

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#23 BigE91
March 26 2012, 09:14PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Yes, I did vote. I was chairman of the Edmonton chapter of the PHWA 1998-2007 and oversaw the voting of all members here.

Regarding decisions, it depended on what award we were voting on -- all-stars, Masterton, Calder etc. Different in each case.

As for the Calder, while statistics weighed heavily in voting (as results show), we looked at the players beyond the numbers, much the way coaches are doing with Landeskog.

So the proverbial cream should rise to the top here then as well. Regardless of whether or not Hopkins wins the Oilers have themselves a blue chipper for years to come.

Better than a Calder would be to see Hopkins progress in his second year the way that Eberle has this season. That in and of itself would be reward for the Oilers and their fans.

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#24 Smokey
March 26 2012, 09:17PM
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Racki wrote:

I think the Oilers often don't get the respect they really should, and it always feels that other team's stars get a bit more limelight than ours do. However even so, I'd say that I'd give the Calder to Landeskog. He just brings a more complete game. He isn't as skilled offensively as Nuge, as far as I'm concerned, but he's already able to play a regular, hard shift on a regular basis and do well.

The tough thing is, I don't think the Nuge is all that bad against tough opposition either. We've seen him and Hall/Eberle embarrass Suter and Weber, playing keep away. We've seen the Nuge "School" Nick Lidstrom. I guess fault the coach (tongue in cheek) for sheltering Nugent-Hopkins. I think it was the best to do for his development, and it helped him pad his numbers, but it didn't do anything for bragging rights in the advanced stats when you look deeper. He hasn't proven to be able to play the toughs on a regular basis, and perhaps his struggles on the road even warn that he isn't quite ready yet. But I think even so, he looks pretty good and is a better 2-way player than people give him credit for. You don't always have to be able to bang bodies to take the puck away and play responsible defense.

But yah, all that said, I still give it to Landeskog. I just think that Nuge's completeness as a player is a bit underrated because he doesn't play crash and bang hockey.

Pound fot Pound, Nuge is the most under-rated hitter. Nuge took out Morrow this year. I know hes no Lindros, but I love the fact that he pops guys sometimes, and is quite good at it.

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#26 Racki
March 26 2012, 09:32PM
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@Robin: Yah, at the very least, I would say it isn't the landslide that the coaching vote makes it look like. I wonder this (and I don't have my own conclusion): between Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins, which player would they rather have on the ice (for their team) when their team is in need of a goal in the dying seconds of a game?

Actually, I do have my own conclusion... I'd say Nuge, without a doubt. And well, maybe that makes me think he's just as worthy of the Calder as Landeskog. It'll be a tough vote! I don't have much faith in the collective PHWA taking notice of our star though.

I tell you, if there was a sophomore of the year award, we'd have that locked up though! :P

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#27 Senator Theo
March 26 2012, 09:38PM
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How many more points would RNH need to pile up over the competition to force the vote? If he lead Landeskog by 8 points would that be enough?

These are not easy questions. Not easy for any man to answer.

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#28 craigero
March 26 2012, 09:39PM
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I really haven't seen Landeskog play many games this year but I am happy with the Nudge. I met him and he is a fine young man that i would never in a million years believe played in the NHL. Once Ryan fills out a bit he will be twice the player Landeskog isand I am glad we drafted him. Robin will Hall be in the lineup on Wednesday? The game is not the same without # 4.

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#30 Racki
March 26 2012, 09:46PM
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@Robin: I think it's probably just my own "the world is against us" mentality that comes along with being an Oilers fan getting the better of me (although geographically, none of those players are exactly out west even if they are in the Western conference.. but again, I do think I'm just being the typical woe-is-me fan).

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#31 Lexi
March 26 2012, 09:58PM
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The Calder debate is one of the least of my concerns. Trust me Gretzky not winning the Calder did not diminish the 80s run. I'm counting on a few classic Oiler-Av playoff series in the next few years to properly settle this debate.

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#32 Rindog
March 26 2012, 10:03PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Personally, I have Nugent-Hopkins with a slight edge but that's because I see him as the most dynamic player in this rookie group.

I'm surprised it's 9-2 for Landeskog, but I can see why coaches like him. I imagine it'll be very close among PHWA voters, especially if Nugent-Hopkins wins the rookie scoring race handily, now that he's back.

RB,

Do you think the voting by the PHWA will be swayed by whether Colorado makes the playoffs or not?

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#33 sloppy joe
March 26 2012, 10:10PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm not sure there's the bias that you and some others perceive, be it east-west or big market-small market. I don't recall any PHWA members in this town or others saying, "I'm voting for this guy for the hell of it" or "I'm taking my guy no matter what."

2011 Skinner, CAR

2010 Myers, BUFF

2009 Mason CBJ

2008 Kane CHI

2007 Malkin PITT

2006 Ovechkin WSH

Is there a left-field selection in that group based on their rookie seasons?

win or lose, Nuge is in the calibre of player that you've listed (sans mason's fluke year), and that is something to be very happy about.

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#34 bazmagoo
March 26 2012, 10:20PM
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@Brownlee and Oilers Nation

Anyone know if Nudge loses out on any bonus money if he doesn't win the Calder? For some reason I think those entry level contracts include a bonus for winning the trophy, no?

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#35 Reg Dunlop
March 26 2012, 10:23PM
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@Lexi

Gretzky had no business winning the Calder as he had a season of pro under his belt. Thats why Stastny won the next year and Makarov a few years after that.

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#36 HOZ
March 26 2012, 10:23PM
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Bovine scatology!

As always people like the big lug and don't credit the small guy.

So if, next year, the big lug again brings 15 goals and barely 50 points and Nuge again goes PPG they feel the same way?

Landeskog has to be the worst choice for ROTY in decades. Without Nuge this years rookies (overall) suck in comparison to the last decade.

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#37 Bucknuck
March 26 2012, 10:24PM
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justDOit wrote:

Should the fact that RNH plays a more difficult position be considered when voting for ROTY?

What a great question. It's a valid one in my opinion.

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#38 bazmagoo
March 26 2012, 10:30PM
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Well according to our friends over at cap geek - http://capgeek.com/faq/how-do-entry-level-contracts-work.php RNH will lose out on about $60 K if he finishes second and doesn't win the Calder.

If he wins he better take the team out for dinner!

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#39 bazmagoo
March 26 2012, 10:35PM
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Personally I think Landeskog probably deserves it as he seems to be an important cog in Colorado's playoff run.

Nudge would have to have a pretty killer last 6 games and have Gabriel slump to pull out the win.

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#41 Wanyes bastard child
March 26 2012, 10:43PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

It makes sense that it would, especially if Landeskog has a significant hand in Colorado making the playoffs. Would RNH get more votes if the Oilers were neck-and-neck with the Avs in the standings? Sure.

Well then, I guess I'm cheering for any team playing against the AV's :P

I am a homer and hoping for Ryan to get the trophy!

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#42 bazmagoo
March 26 2012, 10:43PM
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Dang, Landeskog has an assist and is plus 1 tonight.

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#44 BigE91
March 26 2012, 10:52PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

@Brownlee and Oilers Nation

Anyone know if Nudge loses out on any bonus money if he doesn't win the Calder? For some reason I think those entry level contracts include a bonus for winning the trophy, no?

Not sure where to find the information but I recall Hopkins agent coming on Inside Hockey a couple of weeks ago and telling Dustin Neilsen that there was no bonus for winning the Calder. I don't know what cap geek has listed perhaps it is a bonus for leading the rookie scoring race.

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#45 etownman
March 26 2012, 11:04PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Personally, I have Nugent-Hopkins with a slight edge but that's because I see him as the most dynamic player in this rookie group.

I'm surprised it's 9-2 for Landeskog, but I can see why coaches like him. I imagine it'll be very close among PHWA voters, especially if Nugent-Hopkins wins the rookie scoring race handily, now that he's back.

The word dynamic is what does it for me Robin. When the Nuge gets the puck on the ice you can see opposing forwards grip their sticks a little tighter & back up ever so slightly! Landeskog is more a mucker who has had a nice season! In the end I'm very happy the Oil have Nuge, Calder Trophy or not!

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#46 bazmagoo
March 26 2012, 11:05PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Calder Trophy bonus is $212,500. Runner-up gets $150,000. Bonus is paid by the league.

Gotcha, thanks

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#47 Reality Check to the head
March 26 2012, 11:20PM
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This is the way I look at it...long term who would you want RNH or Landeskog? I would rather have RNH. The guy is going to avg more than a pt a game for the rest of his career. He will make the players around him better. We need to get over the possibility (highly possible) that RNH doesnt win this award. So be it. Think long term.

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#48 David S
March 26 2012, 11:59PM
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If the points totals are close, I can see the tie-breaker being Landeskog's more well-rounded game. But if RNH ran away with it there'd have to be an admission that he was the better team contributor, albeit in a slightly different manner. Still, I suppose there's PPG to consider so there's that.

But at the end of the day I think RNH would have to dominate points-wise to have a chance. He's obviously been the more sheltered of the two.

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#49 Uh-uh
March 26 2012, 11:59PM
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Wow, RNH has played 21 less games and has the same number of points.

21 less.

Think about that for a second

A quarter of an entire SEASON less.

SAME number of points.

Well, that's it then. It's no contest.

Landeskog it is! The logic can't be denied.

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#50 rindog
March 27 2012, 12:10AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

It makes sense that it would, especially if Landeskog has a significant hand in Colorado making the playoffs. Would RNH get more votes if the Oilers were neck-and-neck with the Avs in the standings? Sure.

So my next question would be (given the following information):

The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League."

Should the club record have anything to do with the ROTY voting?

In my dictionary the word "proficient" means skilled or expert.

It doesn't say well rounded, better defensively, etc.

It would be tough to argue that there is a more proficient (skilled) rookie than RNH...

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