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May 17, 2012 | 10:29am ET
Should RNH win the Calder?
By Jimmy Kerr, Edmonton Correspondent
TheFourthPeriod.com

EDMONTON, AB -- It's all about the future in Edmonton these days, as the Oilers get set to pick first overall at the upcoming NHL Draft for a third year running.

Before GM Steve Tambellini makes that pick though, two of his young stars will have attended the league's award show with a shot at bringing home some individual hardware. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is up for Rookie of the Year honors, while second-year winger Jordan Eberle is nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy.

What are the chances either player wins?

Let's start with the battle for the Calder. A lot of the talk seems to point to Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog being the favorite after the regular season, but Nugent-Hopkins should certainly be giving him a run for his money.

As far as the stats go, both players finished with 52 points, while fellow nominee Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils was just one back. The remarkable thing is that RNH played 20 fewer games than Landeskog and 12 less than Henrique and also averaged a full minute of ice time less per game than his Colorado counterpart.

Some might argue that Landeskog was more valuable to his team, but Oilers head coach Tom Renney gives his guy the edge in that category.

"RNH has played less games than the other guys, he's as important as any player we have," Renney told 630 CHED late in the season. "He makes five guys on the ice, including himself, better and probably our goaltender too because the puck is usually going the other way or it's out of trouble in our end."

As for Eberle and the Lady Byng, he's up against Florida defenceman Brian Campbell and New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson.

Eberle played in 78 games this season, racking up 34 goals and 76 points, while collecting just 10 penalty minutes. Campbell and Moulson had six penalty minutes each spread over 82 games, with point totals of 53 and 69, respectively.

"If it means anything to have [34] goals and minimal penalty minutes and be as influential as anybody in the league as far as an impact player and a consistent player for us, I think that's Jordan Eberle," said Renney in the final weeks of the season. "He's got a number of points more than a lot of other guys that have won that trophy."

Eberle has quickly become one of the most dynamic players on the Oilers roster and definitely has the potential to become a top player in the NHL in the coming years. The ability to be a high scoring, effective player who is able to stay out of the box on a consistent basis is something that will be a huge asset for his club going forward.

Will that be enough to sway the voters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association though?

If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is robbed of the Calder, the least the PHWA could do is hand over the Lady Byng to Jordan Eberle.

Jimmy Kerr is the Edmonton Correspondent for TheFourthPeriod.com and covers the Oilers.


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