Hockey Correspondent and Occasional Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
1. Jonathan Huberdeau
I haven’t always cared about rookies and their point totals, although Hubey is currently tied for the lead with 28 with Ottawa’s/Tampa’s Cory Conacher. The hardest thing for a rookie is not to plop easy goals into the back of the net, but to play like a veteran, and Jonathan Huberdeau has seen every kind of ice surface for the laughable Florida Panthers in this shortened campaign. He’s played first line minutes and might just be the Panthers most complete player.
(Keep in mind, I say all this, of course, without ever having seen him play, because who the hell watched Panthers game? I’m just trusting what Martin Brodeur thinks.)
2. Cory Conacher
Okay, points matter a little. Also, Conacher’s been pretty damn good in every other way, too. He not only started hot, but he’s stayed there. He’s exciting. He’s dynamic. And, he hasn’t let up one bit since entering Canada’s capital in a trade deadline deal for goalie Ben Bishop.
3. Justin Schultz
Lost in the matter that is Edmonton’s disastrously disappointing first flight that never quite got off the runway is Justin Schultz’s incredible stable first season as an NHL blueliner. He takes your breath away with how composed he is with the puck, and nothing seems to get the kid down. There’s been a lot of stink made about Edmonton’s flashier forwards (and I include the overrated Taylor Hall in my thinking there), but Schultz has been one of the better defencemen in the NHL, not just one of the better defencemen on the Oilers.
Maybe he should just win the whole trophy.
4. Brendan Gallagher
Call me a sucker for a small guy, but Brendan Gallagher has been a crucial player in the revitalization of Les Habitents. He’s combined with Alex Galchenyuk to form one of the better young duos in the National Hockey League, and one can only imagine how good he’d be with more offensive responsibility.
5. Dougie Hamilton
Like Schultz and Huberdeau, Hamilton (who should really think about changing his name from Dougie to Doug) has slipped in Boston’s backdoor and seamlessly played with the big boys for almost a full (half) season. He’s the NHL’s Maebe Funke, conning his way into a role as Hollywood’s third youngest film executive.
(Yes, I’m excited for Arrested Development.)