Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Trending up, trending down
The rookie race

No one's quite as streaky as a first-year player.

The long season, in a lot of cases, is something new, even for Canadian junior players, as an 82-game, grinding schedule against the best in the world takes a lot out of any 19- or 20-year-old phenom. Evgeni Malkin hit the wall toward the end of last season, and a few of the up-and-comers are hitting it this year.

Others are finding their game, realizing they can play and dominate at this level.

Here are the five rookie scoring leaders' points per game by month this season:

Oh where, oh where has Patrick Kane gone?

By Dec. 1, he was looking like another of the league's unreal phenoms, but he's slowed considerably recently.

Three others have made pretty remarkable contributions late in the year, as Nicklas Backstrom, Peter Mueller and Sam Gagner have all played bigger roles on their teams as the season has worn on. Expect all three to step up next year as key cogs right from the get-go.

Mueller, especially, looks to be a future star.

The only youngster who's really had any sort of consistency this season of this group is Jonathan Toews, who is a sprained knee and 16 missed games from being the runaway Calder Trophy winner.

The question is, can you still give it to him if he only plays 64 games?




At 2:53 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger Sean said...

I wonder how much age plays into development.

Nicklas Backstrom - November 23, 1987
Peter Mueller - April 14, 1988
Jonathan Toews - April 29, 1988
Patrik Kane - November 19, 1988
Sam Gagner - August 10, 1989

I think Toews will be the most dominant player out of the group but it will be interesting to see how Gagner does vs his peers next year at the same age they are now.

At 3:07 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger James said...

Brandon Dubinsky anyone?

At 3:40 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger poploser said...


Dubinsky definitely deserves some kudos, but I don't think he'll get the recognition. The rangers have 3 young rookies who are having a huge impact on the team this year - Dubinsky has gone to the 1st line C position, and a PPG player over the last 2 months. Dan Girardi is one of the top 4 defensmen, and one of the steadiest D on the team season-long. And Marc Staal has been a full-time player from Day 1, and for a while there was on the 1st pair.

The Rangers have a very good crop of youngsters, even if they don't have the name recognition of these other players.

At 4:02 p.m., March 05, 2008, Anonymous K24 said...

Dubinsky's been very good in the last month or so, but he doesn't have the numbers the other guys have. He's 8th in rookie scoring with 31 pts through 67 games. Backstrom, who's 1st, has 56 points. And poploser, Girardi is not considered a rookie this year, since he played 34 games last year.

At 6:02 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger Joe said...

Backstrom has been good but no rookie has impressed me this year as much as Jonathon Toews. I was sad when the Pens drafted Jordan Staal instead of Toews.

At 7:41 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger margottt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:15 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger theoil said...

Cogliano has one less point in about 3 minutes less per game with no PP time all season and 5 more goals but no mention? Surprised.

At 10:46 p.m., March 05, 2008, Blogger Eyeris said...

Teen angel Sam Ganger all the way!

At 2:06 a.m., March 06, 2008, Blogger Josh said...

Give me Peter Mueller. After seeing the goal he scored tonight on Turco I'm a believe. It was a heck of a shot.

At 7:34 a.m., March 06, 2008, Blogger Bohologo said...

Given his age and TOI, Gagner's numbers merit some consideration. He's not driving the bus like Toews, nor is he putting up gaudy numbers like Backstrom, but neither is he passing to an Ovechkin.

At 12:30 p.m., March 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ovechkin is having a Hart year...and he can thank St. Nick for that. The Great 8's scoring surge directly coincided with Backstrom's arrival on the 1st line. The two of them are carrying the Caps into the post-season and have an undeniable chemistry that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Toews has the most upside, but Backstrom should get the '08 Calder.

At 12:35 p.m., March 06, 2008, Blogger breed16 said...

Points shouldn't be the only consideration here. Backstrom is sound defensively and getting better. He leads rookie forwards in takeaways (wish I could find the link) and is a plus player.

At 12:51 p.m., March 06, 2008, Anonymous dr said...

It's true. Points shouldn't be the only consideration. Toews has a better +/- than Backstrom, more GWG (in 19 fewer games) and has won more than 50% of his faceoffs. Plus his linemate all season has been a fellow rookie, not an established star. Although Patrick Sharp's time on the left side of that line, especially on the PP, has helped move him into the top 10 among goal scorers in the league.

While we're talking about awards, I'm going to put in a word for Duncan Keith who is second among defenseman in +/- and near the top in average and total time on ice. He shouldn't win the Norris, but deserves votes.

At 3:02 p.m., March 06, 2008, Blogger Devin said...

Yeah I don't think you can talk about Dubinsky without talking about Cogliano, who's been equal or better in just about every measurable way including not having the luxury of a big #68 on his RW for most of the year.

At 5:19 p.m., March 06, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

I'll say again that Toews isn't at all a surprise to me. He was a monster at North Dakota, and I was very happy to see him leave early, though I'd give that up to have Alex Goligoski back. I also had a feeling that his game would translate to the NHL very quickly. T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan haven't been the same players since he left.

The guy who has really surprised me is Cogliano. I didn't think that there was any way that he was ready for the NHL. He was good, but not dominant. I did like him more than Hensick, who is a horrible puck hog. Still, the reports are that Michigan has had bad chemistry for a number of years, until this season, so that may have played a role in making look less than he was.

At 12:51 a.m., March 07, 2008, Anonymous Maggie said...

Did you make that chart yourself

At 1:00 p.m., March 07, 2008, Anonymous F the penguins said...

the real question is, how do all those trash penguins fans feel about having jordan staal(fourth out of four) on your team instead od toews and backstrom. go ahead, try answering without lying to yourself

At 2:43 p.m., March 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question I have for the Calder is it for the best rookie (projecting over a career) or for the player that is having the best inaugaral season (a single season)?

If it is for the best rookie in the League this year then it is Toews. If it is for rookie having the bext season you have to look at Backstrom, Mueller, Kane and Gagner being in a race.

At 4:19 p.m., March 07, 2008, Anonymous CapsFan said...

I think it's a little presumptuous to say Toews would be the 'runaway' winner had he not missed 16 games. His PPG is nearly identical to Backstrom and Kane. Had Backstrom not had such a slow stat to the season under (ugh) Glen Hanlon maybe he'd be the clear favorite. Would have been interesing had Toews remained healthy.

At 2:08 a.m., March 08, 2008, Blogger Mark Ryan said...

I kind of love that there are no clear cut favorites this year. I mean, obviously Kane, Toews and Backstrom are the favorites, but there are no Crosby's, Malkin's or Ovechkin's. You could sincerely make a case for Gagner (based on age), Mueller (based on goals), Enstrom (based on the role he plays), and even guys like Dubinsky and Price.

This class will be very interesting, not doubt about that.


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