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.


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.

    • Petr's Jofa

      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.

  • JDP

    By the way…coaches dont put the puck in the net…players do. How many of the coaches tha voted against him ever played in the league or at the very least had a first ROOKIE year like he is having depite missing 20 games.

    • Let’s get this straight . . .

      The opinions of the coaches polled should be discounted because some of them never played in the league and others never had the kind of rookie season RNH has.

      Tell us, what kind of rookie NHL season did you have? Please pass along your career stats so that we are better able to weigh the value of your opinion.

      • Here is what I don’t really get.

        First Landeskog plays on a better team which should mean its easier for him to have a better season because of the supporting cast around him.

        Second, when people’s opinions are asked they always seem to talk about Landeskogs defensive play and penalty killing. The thing is thats not the type of player the Nuge is or likely will ever be. That would be similar to comparing a fighter to one of the Sedin’s it just doesn’t make sense when your talking about two different styles.

        Landeskog kills penalties thats fine, why doesn’t anyone bring up the fact that the Nuge has played 20 less games, has more points, and runs a powerplay(and is one of the top pp points guys in the league)that has been #1 much of the season on a 29th place team. Not to mention the same powerplay was right near the bottom last season. Is that not an amazing accomplishment from an 18 year old to make that much of a change on a team.

        Where did the Avs finish the last 2 seasons and has Landeskog really made much of a difference????

        • Petr's Jofa

          It doesn’t matter that he played 20 less games. The Calder isn’t about who the better player is (or will be). It’s about who had the better season. So who’s had a better 2011-12 season? Sidney Crosby (25 pts) or Sam Gagner (43 pts)? Ganger’s had a better season, but everyone would rather have Crosby moving forward.

          PS – Edmonton’s 9 points ahead of last year with 6 games left. Colorado’s 18 points ahead of last year with 4 games left.

          • Petr's Jofa

            You can’t really count injuries as much of anything because its not anything players can control. Ya Crosby has 25 points but how many games did it take him to get those? Is he producing at a better rate? You can’t go out there and say well you had a bad season because some douche bag smashed your head into the boards and injured you yet you still put up a point a game. Your season is based of the games you play because if your not playing its not part of your season. If your sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch does that count as a game played in you stats??? you were there in the building…. should it count NO.

            Second part have a look at their point the season before, three seasons look like this. 96points, 63 points, approx 90points. They hardly made any significant personell changes the last two seasons yet there is a 33 point difference. Did they get back to 90 points this season because of Landsokog or because slumping players put up good numbers again like 2 seasons ago.

          • It doesnt matter if the injury is out of the player’s control, it will still count against him. Especially in the case of RNH who so many people said was too small to play in the NHL this year (they were wrong).

            The spin that the Pro-Landy group will put on it is durability. They will say, look at their durability, Landeskog hasnt missed a game and RNH lost 1/4 of the year. That becomes a plus for GL.

            I firmly believe RNH is and will forever be the better player, but it isnt a slam dunk for him to win the Calder.

          • Petr's Jofa

            I’m not saying he should be a slam dunk, I’m just saying you can’t really question an individuals durability because of a freak incident that no one could have controlled. Like catching a rut and going shoulder first into the boards or injuring your back while eating pancakes. If you injure your back while eating pancakes does that mean your not durable????

            What if Landi was walking into Rexall and slipped on a patch of ice and tweaked a groin would you be making an arguement about his durability?

            I’m just saying its what you do when your in the game that makes an impact or difference.

          • DSF

            Hopkins was hurt (twice) while playing hockey not while eating pancakes.

            Durability is huge factor in assessing the value of a player.

            Otherwise Rick DiPietro might be a good signing for the Islanders. But he isn’t.

            Of note, 32 of Hopkins’ 49 points have come at home where he can get maximum sheltering while he’s only been able to score 17 on the road.

            In contrast, Landeskog has 22 points at home and 27 on the road.

            It’s pretty obvious that Landeskog is able to produce in all situations against the toughest competition.

            If Hopkins were placed in Landeskog’s shoes, playing the toughs, not starting almost 65 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone and playing PK about one and half minutes per game, you have to ask what his offensive numbers would look like.

            Another factor, of course, is PP opportunities.

            Hopkins leads the Oilers with 3:04 PPTOI/G while Landeskog is 6th among Colorado forwards with 2:08/G

            I would imagine, if Landeskog got the sheltering and zone starts that Hopkins does and spent the additional time on the PP that he now spends on the PK, his offensive totals would be much higher.

          • DSF

            Landeskog is also playing on a much better team especially defensively. Alot of their players are in their prime and the Vets are actually doing their job. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuge would have put up much better numbers with the Avs and if Landi was worse with the Oil. See if he could get as many points on a team that is worse at even strength and has only one player on defense that could make a pass out of the zone for the better part of the season. How good would Landi be with Barker backing him up on the blue line?

            Also, yes Nuge was hurt but it wasn’t from taking a hit or any physical play. The same thing can happen to any player.

          • DSF

            This is nonsense.

            The Oilers have allowed only 10 more goals against in 76 games played. (Colorado-2.63, Oilers 2.84)

            The Oilers are actually a more “veteran” team with an average age of 26.7 while the Avalanche are the youngest team in the league at 25.7. (and don’t start pulling players off the Oiler roster to make your point)

            If you believe the Colorado defense is somehow much more proficient than Colorado’s you likely haven’t seen them play much.

            That you think Landeskog’s accomplishment are due to not having to play with Cam Barker, (which he wouldn’t anyway since he plays the toughs) is hilarious.

            How much TOI did Hopkins share with Barker?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            It really wont matter what I write you will argue it anyway. If these teams are so similar and only 10 goals was such an important stat then y is Edm 29th and Avs are pretty much in the playoffs? Tell me how the Avs aren’t a better team….

            age diffence is about how you look at you can’t just say they are a more veteran team. The oilers have 5 players 34 years and older with three of them being 36+. They are already past their prime and are at the end of their careers when stats usually fall off quickly. They have 7 players who would be considered in their prime, three are basically in their first year of the NHL (Potter, Omark, Petrell), one shouldn’t be in the NHL at all (Barker), the remaining three are Eager 4th liner at best, Jones third liner at best, and Hemksy with only hemsky being a legit top 6 player. The rest are all younger.

            The Avs have 3 players 33 years and older,a 36, 33 ,34. 10 players in their prime and the rest younger.

            More players in their prime with more experience as well as being their top 6 guys. their Vets are the right age to still contribute rather than already being over the hill and should be retired like the oiler Vets so how is this team not better than the Oil.

          • DSF

            Holy cow.

            I didn’t say the Avalanche aren’t a better team.

            Obviously they are.

            But you think, somehow, that age of veterans has some effect on Landeskog’s performance or Hopkins’.

            I’d be interested in your methodology in determining that.

            For the record, the Avalanche are playing significantly younger players than the Oilers:

            Landeskog – 19
            Barrie – 20
            Duchene – 21
            O’Reilly – 21
            Elliot -21
            Mueller – 23
            McGinn – 23
            Johnson – 24
            Olver – 24
            Downie – 24

            That’s 10 regulars under the age of 25.

            By my count, the Oilers are playing just 6 regulars under 25.

            The only old guy playing in their top 6 is Hejduk and he’s older than Horcoff, Smyth, Belanger, Eager and Hordichuk.

            I guess, if you think the ineptitude of the Oilers’ bottom 6 forwards has some bearing on Hopkins’ performance, you might have a point.

            But it’s more than a bit of a stretch.

        • Jason Gregor

          To your last point…Where did the OIlers finish the last two years…30th and 30th…

          The Avs were 29th last year…Were they really that much better than the Oilers…You could argue that Landeskog’s play has made them a contender more than RNH has in Edmonton.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            You could but if you look back a season before they had 96 points and most of the same players and no Landeskog. So the team was capable of having a 90 point season before he arrived.

  • Truth

    I think a big plus for Landeskog is the fact that the Avs are still in the playoff hunt.

    I would bet that RNH wins if he finishes with 8(ish) or more points than Landeskog and the Avs miss the playoffs. Avs make the playoffs at all and Landeskog would correctly be viewed as a contributing factor, and thats what it’s all about.

  • O.C.

    It’s not a landslide runaway, as though Gabriel Landeskog is miles better than the pack.

    Then I could see people getting their panties bunched up.

    Skinner was the better rookie last year. I’d rather have Taylor or Tyler tho.

    On that note, I remember back in May asking if anyone would trade the first pick for Tyler Seguin. More would have done that than not. I bet not many would make that trade now, seeing that it’s proven that the kid can play.

    It also helps immensely that there is no more tattooing of players to the glass or headshots anymore.

  • 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.

  • O.C.

    This is troubling.

    “@dchesnokov: Former goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov, who had stints w/FLA, PHO, EDM, ANA, has been reported missing by his wife”

    “@dchesnokov: Shtalenkov, now a goalie coach w/Metallurg Magnitogorsk, called his wife when landed in Moscow on March 25, but never made it home.”

  • Truth

    I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but seeing as you’re one of the more connected writers at ON Brownlee, what are the chances that the Oilers sign a college free agent defenseman? Have you heard any news in this regard?

    The only reason I ask now is that the college season is over and McKenzie is tweeting that there should be some action in the next 24-48 hrs in signings of these guys. Willis wrote a great article over at the Cult of Hockey recently highlighting some of the FA’s, a few which would appear to be a great fit for the Oil.

  • book¡e

    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.

  • vetinari

    SOG. Landeskog is out shooting RHN almost 2.25-1 He has like 250 shots and 8.5 % shooting percentage. RHN has like 115 shots and 16.7 % shooting percentage. No wonder the guy has more goals. Which is to say based on RHN’s Shot percentage with an equal amount of shots he would have like 36 goals.

    You can argue the numbers to your ble in the face. The NHL is blessed to have 2 equally talented players in the league at age 19.

    BTW. What happened to Adam Henrique?

  • vetinari

    Landeskog easily wins it. Already plays against the best players and producing while trying to make the playoffs.

    ot: Would you trade EDM first pick for Matt Duchene?

  • DSF

    Sheltered? RNH and Eberle could only wish that they were on the PK. That is not by choice. Renny will decide when they are ready to PK. Sheltered yeah I don’t disagree. But here is the counterpoint. RNH would have had more icetime this season if Renney had coachedthe same way they do in Colorado. Renny’s approach allowed for learning and development within the framework set out by the coachs and managment. It almost seems like Landeskogs development was pushed upon him. More like being force fed than spoon fed. How will that play out next year we wait and see.

  • vetinari

    Personally, I’d rather have the Nuge on my team long term but I can see why there is such a strong case for Landeskog to be the Calder winner for this year.

    I love Landeskog’s style of play and think that he would be the perfect compliment to our skill players in the top 6.

    Are there any Landeskog-type players available in this year’s draft?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    • DSF

      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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I think that Landeskog will win but it’s too bad for RNH. It wouldn’t even be a debate had he stayed healthy but unfortunately, he didn’t. It would be nice if he had a rank 6 games here and snagged one of the few trophies that the Oilers haven’t won yet.

  • West

    I read an article recently where it was stated that at the draft all the scouts considered Landeskog NHL ready, was the best player in the draft, and was likely to play the way he is playing. Same scouts said RNH should be in Junior hockey because he was not ready for the NHL. Who has had a better season based on expectations?

  • 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.

    • DSF

      It’s not that Landeskog is physical.

      It’s that he’s utterly dominant. He’s a rookie leading his team in +/-, and it’s not even *close*. He’s +20. Ryan Wilson plays D and is +12. The next-best forward to have played as many games as Landeskog is Ryan O’Reilly who is +2. And it just goes downhill from there. Matt Duchene is the worst of the name players, -9. Jan Hejda, former Oilers superstar, is an atrocious, team-worst -15.

      Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

      Cam Neely come again. Not that big – only 6’1 205-210 – but unbelievably strong, quite fast and agile, but above all smart and has great reflexes and heart.

      And decades hence, Oilers fans will wonder “What if we’d had Seguin and Landeskog?”

      • DSF


        And Landeskog has 258 SOG (Hopkins has 140)

        If Landeskog works on his shot and can get up to an average 12%, he’ll be a 35 goal scorer.

        God help us all.

  • DSF

    That is a bunch of bs if you ask me. Oh, so Landeskog is a well rounded player, so even though his ppg sucks compared to Nuge, he should get it?
    I seem to recall that Kane won it in his year despite never being called well rounded in his life.

    Points are basically all that have mattered in that race in the past 65 years. Why start now with the well rounded talk?
    Horcoff was pretty well rounded when he came in the league, shouldnt he have won it also?


  • Edmonton Media not promoting RNH enough. You listen to the Avs’ play by play , feed, and its all Landeskog. Sometimes I think he;s not on the ice and they are stilll raving about it. Dont hear that from the Oilers Sportsnet pxp crew.

  • that’s the biggest joke I’ve ever heard.. If they give the Calder to Landeskog that’d be the biggest mistake the NHL has ever made… 20 less games played, on a MUCH worse team. If he would have been healthy, yes maybe Landeskog would have lead in +/- (like I said MUCH worse team, facing MUCH tough opponents) but he would have had 8-12 points more.. And thats NOT A MAYBE 100% GUARENTEE!! And that shows head over heals who’s better. Calder Trophies 90% of the time is awarded for points and points alone, and with how many less GP Hopkins has. It’s VERY clear who the rookie of the year is!!!!! And I’m an Oil/Avs fan equally!!!

  • Calder’s have NEVER been awarded for +/-, EVER!!!!! Landeskog has the benefit of being on a better team, that’s your only arguement? Lol, he wasn’t playing Duchene who was playing the other team’s first line (Like Hopkins was) Landeskog was facing the other teams second line 75% of the season, that’s why his +/- was better, and I’ll say it again and again , Calder’s aren’t awarded for +/-, 90% of the time it’s awarded for points DUMMIES! So get over it!!!!

  • You can say Myers won it for his two way play, but that’s only 20% true, he won it because he was playing in his own end (10% the reason he won it) (because he’s a D-man!!) AND because he was a D-man, near the rookie lead in POINTS!! (90% the reason he won it)!!!!

  • I’ve said it before n I’ll say it again, if Hopkins doesn’t win, the award should never be given out for points ever again, it should be given out for +/-, defensive play, and physical readiness. Because those are the only stats that Landeskog has over RNH. The award should never be given out for points anymore.