Landeskog, 19, was a favorite for the trophy after his strong finish to the NHL season after leading the Avalanche to a late season push towards the postseason. The rookie forward was drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, the highest pick since the franchise moved to Colorado. He did not disappoint, jumping straight to the NHL and proving his polish right away.
The young forward played in all 82 games this season, leading all NHL rookies in hits, shots, plus/minus and tying for the NHL rookie lead in goals and points. Landeskog also tied for the Avalanche team lead in game winning goals and placed third on the team in total points. He also led all rookie forwards in minutes played and average ice time.
The 2011-2012 NHL Awards have finally arrived, and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog is a favorite for the Calder Trophy, given to the most proficient rookie in the NHL.
Landeskog has a very strong case for the award, as he finished in the top two amongst all rookie players in goals, total points, total shots, hits, and takeaways. Selected second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, the young Swede finished third on the Avalanche in scoring -- just three points behind Ryan O'Reilly -- and tied David Jones for the team lead with five game winning goals.
His strong finish to the season, leading the Avalanche into a heated playoff chase that fell just short, also cemented his status as a top rookie among many in the national press. Gabriel Landeskog has a chance to be the first member of the Avalanche to win the Calder Award since Chris Drury in 1999.
He faces some tough competition this season. Division rival (and first overall selection in 2011) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a stellar year for the Edmonton Oilers -- when healthy. The undersized center averaged almost a point per game this season, scoring 18 goals and a remarkable 34 assists in just 62 games. Nugent-Hopkins took some punishment due to his still-developing frame, but his skills are certainly NHL ready. If he had stayed healthy this season, the Oilers forward would be the likely favorite for the Calder.
A dark horse candidate this season is New Jersey Devils 22-year-old center, Adam Henrique. Playing on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, Henrique enjoyed a brilliant season with 51 points, including 35 assists to lead all rookies. The young center enjoyed an excellent postseason as his Devils fell in the Stanley Cup Finals. For voting purposes, however, the Calder is a regular season award and voting closed before Henrique had a chance to show his talents on the postseason stage.