Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/2/11

While the Stanley Cup Hangover is plainly visible in Boston's TD Garden, the anticipated Sophomore Slump is nowhere to be found for the three rookies who burst into the NHL league in 2010-11 and earned nominations for the Calder Trophy.

Last season’s competition among rookies to win the 2011 Calder Trophy was one of the closest in recent history, as three forwards ended up as finalists: Logan Couture, Michael Grabner and Jeff Skinner. When the 2011 Rookie All-star team was announced, those three were joined by defensemen John Carlson and P.K. Subban and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, all of whom had tremendous seasons.

Skinner, who turned 19 in May, was the youngest ever to win the Calder Trophy, only adding to the speculation that he wouldn’t be able to build on his remarkable freshman campaign before this current season began. Further, the media buzz that seemed as enthralled with his boyish looks as his gaudy stats seemed to add to the pressure, as he went from lesser-known OHL sniper one season to finding himself showcased as one of the best known faces in the NHL’s marketing efforts only 12 months later.

With two more goals on Tuesday, including a ridiculous move on Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, Skinner continues to dazzle and get the clutch goals that endeared him to Carolina hockey fans all last season. If anything, only 11 games in, it looks like he’s going to perform even better this year than last.

(total) SH PP Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) Drafted 2010, 7th overall 10-11 82 31 32 63 0.774660216:43:01 3:10 11-12 1266121.00820217:36:014:15
Skinner is earning more ice time from his coach, and while he is unlikely to ever get pegged as a PK specialist, his ability to find the net in the most unlikely circumstances has given him more time with the man advantage than ever. On the matter of earning power play minutes, the teenager with the unorthodox skating style finished last season at the top of the league in giving his team power play opportunities, drawing 2.6 penalties/60 min TOI. Checking on that stat so far this year, he ranks 4th in the league at 3.5/60, as opponents target the slippery skater in an effort to shut him down anywhere near the net, but often enough find themselves called for tripping, hooking or interference.

The other two Calder finalists, Couture and Grabner, had been in the minor leagues for a few years and perhaps their rookie accomplishments were considered more the products of maturity and deliberately seizing a long-awaited opportunity. Couture had been a standout for the San Jose Sharks' AHL affiliated. Grabner, at 23, was hardly the perennial star at any level since he was drafted by Vancouver in 2006, finding himself last October on his 3rd team since signing his entry level contract.

(total)SHPP Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks) Drafted 2007, 9th overall 10-11 79 32 24 56 0.7141100817:49 1:04 2:11 11-12 104370.70201017:541:052:28 Michael Grabner (NY Islanders) Drafted 2006, 14th overall 10-11763418520.681026315:041:310:54 11-1293030.33010016:462:321:52
An overview of their numbers above shows both are doing well enough this year. I read Couture’s year-to-year consistency to be a sign that a slump is unlikely -- he's found his NHL game. While Grabner’s point production is at half last year’s pace, it’s too early to say if that’s on him or should be blamed on the Islanders overall struggles (with just 18 team goals in 9 games). His shorthanded and man-advantage TOI are up significantly, suggesting his coach’s confidence in his game has only increased.

In recent years, Calder winners Steve Mason (Goalie, Columbus) and Tyler Myers (Defenseman, Buffalo) demonstrated how hard it is to play to one’s full potential consistently at a young age. The pressure, the distractions, the spotlight can all undercut performance and confidence for youngsters still developing into NHL veterans. For both, their sophomore seasons were forgettable in many ways.

So far this year, the three who rose to the top of a very talented crop of rookies in 2010-11, and particularly the youngest of all who brought home the Trophy, have shown they are steady professionals despite their youth and inexperience. The best part for hockey fans is knowing we will be following their achievements for many NHL seasons to come.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Geno Smith laughed at being ranked last in QB poll

Penn State trash talks Notre Dame Twitter over 'Rudy'

Report: Aroldis Chapman unlikely to be traded

Mets’ trade for Carlos Gomez called off despite reports

Report: Rangers to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies


WATCH: Tulo hits first home run with Blue Jays

NFLPA officially files Brady lawsuit, wants QB to play Week 1

Mariota’s lack of red flags was a concern for NFL teams

Tigers 'rebooting,' make David Price available in trade

Jerry Jones backs Roger Goodell amid Deflategate controversy

Brady, agent contacted AT&T in attempt to retrieve deleted texts

Texas QB commit has great anti-Oklahoma T-shirt

WATCH: Tim Tebow does monster leg workout

Farrell: Sandoval's conditioning 'continues to be addressed'

Revis won't wear Super Bowl ring around Jets teammates

Former NBAer Vin Baker now works at Starbucks

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Mike Leach compares Deflategate to Kardashians

All Panthers home games will also be broadcast in Spanish

Giants owner calls Pierre-Paul debacle ‘very disappointing’

Panthers WR cited for marijuana paraphernalia, had child in car

Bruins-Canadiens Winter Classic details announced

Jay Bruce and Carlos Gonzalez: Twin trade chips

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Kobe to see time at power forward next year

Mike Pettine not ruling out Manziel

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker