With all the chatter of playoff seeding and the temperamental New Jersey Devils, I thought I'd take a look at one specific Devil. That Devils is one of the two phenomenal rookies the Devils have this year, Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique. Of course, the title told you which Adam I'll be talking about, Mr. Henrique. Henrique is in the talk for the Calder Memorial Trophy as, essentially, the best rookie. After the jump I look at a few fields of criteria; mainly, offense, defense, special teams play, durability, and overall value to the team.
The Calder Trophy officially goes to "the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League". Therefore, the trophy doesn't always go to the highest scorer, but the rookie who is the most proficient; so I looked up the definition of proficient. I got a definition from the Oxford English Dictionary (if you don't know, it's a very respected dictionary):
"Skilled, adept, competent; expert in a particular field."
Just keep this definition in mind as you read my case for Henrique.
I'll start with a little history. The Devils have had two players win the Calder Trophy; Martin Brodeur in 1994 and Scott Gomez in 2000. Last year Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes took the honor with 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points. Skinner also played every single game last year, scoring 0.77 ppg. Skinner was the definition of proficient in his first year.
If we are looking at scoring, Henrique is tied for the lead in the rookie scoring race with 43 points. The other person tied with Henrique is Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche. As far as scoring goes, Henrique is one of the best rookies in creating offense. What is impressive is Henrique's even strength points (ESP), he is second behind Landeskog with 30 even strength points. The next closest is Matt Read with 27 points. The NHL also breaks point totals down to home points (HmP) and road points (RdP). Henrique isn't fantastic at home, but still good for a rookie. Henrique does excel on the road. Henrique has put up an astonishing 28 points on the road. As a Devils fan, this should pump you up, considering the Devils will likely be a 5th or lower seed in the playoffs this year. Henrique will be crucial in a playoff run if it has to go through other rinks other than the one in Newark.
Henrique is also consistent. Henrique scores at a pace of .74 ppg, second to the first overall pick of last year's draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, Nugent-Hopkins has only played 46 games due to that serious injury to his face. So it makes you wonder if he could keep up this pace over more games. Therefore, if I was choosing who has the best offense prowess of the top rookies... I'd come down with Henrique. He has scored the same number of points as Landeskog and scores at a rate only met by Nugent-Hopkins, who hasn't played near a full season.
For those of you who think the plus-minus statistic holds some weight, Adam Henrique was only a +8 while Landeskog has a +22. Nugent-Hopkins is a -6 and Matt Read has a +11. By this measure, Henrique is not the best defensive forward, but he is keeping a positive plus-minus, which is very good. Another good thing to look at when considering defense is puck possession. Of the top five rookies, Landeskog has an insane 14.65 corsi on. The next two closest are Matt Read with a 3.00 and Henrique with a 2.49. You can't deny that Landeskog is the best defensive forward in the top five rookies.
Landeskog stands out in this aspect, in a bad way. Landeskog has 43 penalty minutes, which is significantly more than the 7-8 penalty minutes the other top rookies have. Perhaps Landeskog brings a physical element that these other players don't. However, as a Devils fan, I know Henrique does not back down from the physical aspect of the game. He even got into a fight with Jarome Iginla. Probably not the best idea, but it happened. (here's the video of the fight)
Henrique leads rookies and the league in short handed points with 7 (so does Parise). As for power play points, Henrique is the weakest with only 6 points. Nugent-Hopkins has an impressive 20 power play points. Henrique also has zero power play goals. Therefore, I would take Nugent-Hopkins as the best special teams rookie.
This is important in the Calder race because a player can come out of the gates red hot, but if he can't stay healthy, he can't become proficient. Henriquehas played 58 games, only ten less than Landeskog and Hodgson. Henrique and Landeskog play the most per game at 18:25 of ice time. If you extrapolate that out, Henrique has played the third most amount of minutes (1059 minutes) in this pool of top rookies. First was Landeskog with 1241 minutes and Read with 1065 minutes. Judging on durability, Landeskog takes the cake, again.
Value to Team
Henrique has the highest faceoff percentage of the top five rookie centers. Henrique also has a fairly high shooting percentage at 13.9%, third highest among these rookies. This is an area where Landeskog lacks. Landeskog has a ton of shots on net and only converts at a rate of 7.9%. I would also mention that Henrique has three game winning goals, one coming in overtime. However, Read leads the rookies with five game winning goals.
If I had to pick an overall winner for the Calder Memorial Trophy, I would pick Henrique. He still manages to put on goals on a line with two of the best shooters of the league. He also has taken virtually no penalties and can kill penalties with flair. He wins almost 50% of his faceoffs and plays against top lines night after night. Adam Henrique, in my eyes, is the definition of proficient. Who do you, the reader, think will win the Calder Memorial Trophy?