THE NUUUGE: FINALLY, A CALDER KID?

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

Former Oiler Kyle Brodziak, who scored the winner for Minnesota in the shootout, continues to be money for the Wild, although not for me.
 
After covering Brodziak with the Edmonton Road Runners during the lockout season of 2004-05. I was sure he’d become a solid NHL player. Bob Stauffer, host of Total Sports at the time, boldly declared Broziak would "never" play in the NHL.
 
We made an open-ended bet, with Stauffer having to pay me $5 for every NHL game Brodziak played during his career. With my point made when Brodziak made the Oilers roster for 2005-06 , I offered Stauffer a one-time buy-out of $200.
 
He took it. Good thing for him — Brodziak played his 362nd game Wednesday, which would be $1810.00 as of today.

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.

  • Whatever happened to the rebuild? I know the Oilers have been playing well, but it seems to me we still lack that D-man. One of the reasons Belanger is on the PP is we have no true quarter back on the back end.

    Belanger is being used to try and bring the PK up and give us more time down low. It’s helped but it’s a stop gap. Trade Hemsky and try and move up in this years draft and get Murray! or Dumba!

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      It’s worth remembering that Belanger’s role on the PP coincides with the end of the Corey Potter Power Play due to injury and the absence of Whitney. I suspect as Whitney gets his legs and when Potter returns you won’t be seeing Belanger on the PP for much beyond the odd FO if at all.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          On the trade I totally agree. Hemsky for a young top 1 or 2 D would be well worth doing… but I can’t imagine who would do that deal.

          You are right to explore the draft, but I’m not sure trading Hemsky for a top 5 pic will be any easier than for a ready to go top 1-2.

          The real problem is the catch 22 of trading one of your elite producers to get a better position in the draft after only a 1/4 of the way through a season where you might get to the post-season for the first time in forever…

          1) hard pill to swallow, throwing away scoring during a potential playoff run – not to mention scoring you’d need in the playoffs

          2) after you’ve lost him … aren’t you improving your chances in the draft anyway… so what have you accomplished?

          It would be great to find a way to get Reinhart or Dumba though… if Hemsky can get a deal done it would definitely be worth looking in to.

  • bingbong,

    the Oilers horribly screwed up on Brodziak. Maybe he’s not some rambunctious 4th liner, however he was horribiliy effective in the role. What more can you ask from a guy a 4th liner. He won I believe 50 percent of his draws, killed penalties, combined with Stortini, GlenX to become the best fourth line in the league when he was here. That line provided the catalyst to almost get the Oilers in the playoffs that year. You can argue this team would love to had that line now. A fourth liner who can score 10 goals, win draws, and kill penalties is something this team has not had since he left. In Minny he redefined himself as 2nd or 3rd liner with the propensity for clutch goals. I cringe everytime he scores against the Oilers.

    • I occasionally pick a post at random and delete it for fun.

      Other times, I will delete a comment because it’s stupid or dickish or posted only to irritate.

      UPDATE: You’ve posted twice today with your intent being the latter, and you’ve done this before. I’ve removed both of the latest posts.

      If I have to remove another, ever, you’re done here for as long as I’m writing at this website. Take the hint or not. Doesn’t matter a damn to me.

  • Spydyr

    Unless Hemsky signs before the trade deadline he has to go.Law of diminishing returns.Would I try to sign him.Sure why not.You can always trade him after he signs.For how much…well for less than he is getting now that’s for sure.

  • Metal&Oil

    So far The Nuge is producing @ a 1.08 ppg average. This is the 4th best average for rookies in the NHL since the lockout.

    Alex Ovechkin 1.31 PPG * 2005-2006
    Sydney Crosby 1.26 PPG * 2005-2006
    Evgeni Malkin 1.09 PPG * 2006-2007
    The Nuge 1.08 PPG * So far 2011-2012

    Now the thing to also remember is that in the year following the lockout when Croz and AO put up those PPG averages Goal scoring in the NHL was at a post lockout high. This has been attributed to new rules that were put into place that year to increase goal scoring and the fact that there was an adjustment period for Dmen and goalies getting used to the new anti obstruction rules.

    Here is a chart that shows the goal scoring trends in the NHL(year by year) http://blogs.thescor…coring-by-year/

    This made things a tad bit easier on Crosby and Ovechkin when they were rookie in the year following the lockout.

    The Nuge is right up there with the very best rookie seasons in the post lockout era when this is considered.

  • Metal&Oil

    Hemsky had a really bad shoulder injury last year and re-injured it this yeae. Gagner had a bad foot injury he’s just lately starting to get over. Whitney’s coming off a nasty injury too, and surely it will take some time for Hall to get back to his usual game.

    Hockey players do not produce as they normally do when recovering from injuries. You can’t assume these guys are bad players, you have to be patient.

    If the Oilers brass decides it is time to trade some of these players, we should hope they get back to full health and produce the way they can, or we’re giving them up for cents on the dollar.

  • Mitch

    My answer for the question of the day is shop Hemsky just to see what the market is. There is no harm in this. I don’t feel Hemsky will ever have more than a 80 pt season, when I watch Hemsky play, I worry about Taylor Hall, I just get the feel that injury could eat these Two great players up. This is not a tough guy issue, this injury issue is from having a small lineup of players that can’t take or give a pounding. It then becomes easy target for the other team and guys that like high traffic areas will get hurt. It maybe hard to get a 1st round pick for Hemsky, you also can’t sacrifice alot of money to resign 83. Or maybe Brassard from CLB?