In a storied history that’s included five Stanley Cup celebrations and a parade of greats to the HHOF, the Edmonton Oilers have never had a player win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. Will Ryan Nugent-Hopkins be the first?
Wayne Gretzky didn’t do it despite recording 137 points as a rookie because he wasn’t eligible. Likewise, Mark Messier. Neither did Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey. Glenn Anderson or Grant Fuhr, all of whom have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and have their numbers hanging from the rafters at Rexall Place.
With 25 games in the books after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild Wednesday, the Oilers might be fading but Nugent-Hopkins continues to garner accolades and attention that could turn into votes at trophy time as he added a goal and an assist to give him 11-16-27.
Nugent-Hopkins, 18, doesn’t just lead the Oilers in team scoring, he begins the month of December sitting tied for fourth place in NHL scoring and he’s running away with the rookie scoring race.
Is this the year?
LEADING THE WAY
While the Oilers have hit a tough stretch that’s seen them lose eight of their last 11 games and today sit below the Western Conference playoff cutline after jumping out to an 8-2-2 start, Nugent-Hopkins picked up the pace in November, adding 16 points to his total.
Here’s the top-tier of the Calder Trophy scoring derby as of the completion of games played Wednesday.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM, 11-16-27
Craig Smith, NSH, 7-10-17
Luke Adam, BUF, 8-8-16
Adam Henrique, NJD, 5-10-15
Matt Read, PHI, 9-5-14
THE BUPKIS BOYS
When you’ve got four forwards with fewer goals than Ladislav Smid has past the quarter-pole of the season as the Oilers do, it’s going to bite you sooner or later.
— Sam Gagner: 0-6-6 in 18 games this season. Hasn’t scored a goal in 20 games, dating back to March 5, 2011 vs. Colorado. Has scored 59 goals in 309 NHL games.
— Eric Belanger: 0-6-6 in 25 games. He’s gone 33 games without a goal dating back to March 20, 2001 vs. Chicago. Has 134 goals in 741 NHL games.
— Magnus Paajarvi: 0-1-1 in 21 games this season. No goals in his last 23 games, dating back to April 6, 2011 against Calgary. Has scored 15 goals in 101 NHL games.
— Ben Eager: 0-1-1 in 16 games. Eager has gone 18 games without a goal, dating back to April 6, 2011 vs. Anaheim. He’s scored 34 goals in 339 career NHL games.
BRODZIAK IS MONEY
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Should GM Steve Tambellini lean toward re-signing Ales Hemsky or should he shop him between now and the trade deadline, assuming he stays healthy?
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.