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Trophy Tracker: Henrique ascends to Calder favorite

Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 9:47 AM / Trophy Tracker

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Trophy Tracker: Henrique ascends to Calder favorite
New Jersey's Adam Henrique wasn't a lock to make the team out of training camp, but now he's emerged as the team's No. 1 center and a Calder Trophy favorite.

The NHL reached the three-quarter mark of its season this past weekend. Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.

Adam Henrique has been one of the more pleasant surprises in the National Hockey League this season.

A 2008 third-round pick (No. 82) with just one season of professional hockey under his belt, Henrique entered the season unsure if he'd even be a member of the New Jersey Devils or spend a second season with the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany, N.Y.

But three-quarters of the way into the 2011-12 season, the 22-year-old has proven himself to be the League's top first-year player.

2011-12 NHL TROPHY TRACKER

The NHL reached the three-quarter mark of its season this past weekend. Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.
After scoring 50 points in 73 AHL games last season, Henrique has taken the NHL by storm. Fifty-three games into his rookie season, the 6-foot, 195-pound center has 15 goals, 26 assists and a plus-10 rating. His 41 points is tops among all NHL rookies and his four shorthanded goals have him tied with Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck for the most in the League.

Henrique isn't the only high-performing rookie at this point in the season. But there can only be one winner, so here are our picks for the Calder Trophy at the three-quarter pole:

WINNER

Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils -- Everyone in New Jersey was worried at the start of the season about who would fill the void left by No. 1 center Travis Zajac, who has played just eight games this season due to an Achilles injury. Henrique was the player who stepped up and has been a huge reason why New Jersey remains in contention to have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Henrique plays in all situations and is mature beyond his years. At this rate, he will be standing at the podium in Las Vegas this June to accept the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie.

FINALISTS

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche -- The second choice of the 2011 Entry Draft has been everything the Avs could have hoped for and more. Not only does Landeskog lead all rookies with 18 goals, but he leads his team, too. What's even more impressive is that the 19-year-old also leads Colorado with a plus-20 rating, which is strong enough to be ranked among the top 20 in the NHL. Landeskog already is emerging as a leader in Colorado's dressing room and will be a star in the League for years to come.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers -- We had Nugent-Hopkins winning the award at the halfway point of the season, but a shoulder injury may cost him the Calder. The 18-year-old missed all but one game in January, returned for two games at the start of February and then was forced to miss another three weeks. Still, the No. 1 selection in this past June's draft has done nothing but produce when he's been able to play. He leads all rookies with 18 power-play points and has just five fewer points than Henrique despite appearing in 12 fewer games. A phenomenal talent, a healthy Nugent-Hopkins will prove to be the biggest piece to Edmonton's rebuild.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets