Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another Interesting Rookie

I like to notice rookies who are making interesting achievements, but may not be frontrunners for the Calder Trophy. This season, I think the Calder Trophy frontrunner is Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, though he is in a tight battle with Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals. However, there are other interesting rookies, for example Daniel Carcillo of the Phoenix Coyotes is leading the NHL in penalty minutes and showing that he has enough scoring ability to be a valuable player to his team. Another rookie of interest is Tobias Enstrom of the Atlanta Thrashers. Enstrom is only 5'10", 175 pounds which is small for a defenceman. His size might have kept him out of the NHL until recently. Only in the last year or two has the NHL begun to let smaller players have a shot to show their value. The most interesting thing about Enstrom is that he leads the NHL in power play icetime. He has played almost 25 more minutes of power play ice time than Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who is second in total power play ice time. With all of his power play ice time, Enstrom is tied for Atlanta's lead in power play points (he is tied with Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa with 24 power play points).

Playing significant power play time signifies that either Enstrom is seen as a very successful power play producer or that Atlanta doesn't have anybody else who is capable of taking his ice time. I think the second situation is closest to the truth in Enstrom's case. Atlanta's number two defenceman in power play points is Alexei Zhitnik and he has only contributed two points on the power play.

It is very rare for a rookie to get as much power play time as Enstrom has had. It shows the Atlanta coaching staff has a lot of faith in him. However, given his 25th place in the league in power play points, he has not been the best power play producer in the league (especially given his ice time). While this is a good achievement, it makes one wonder if he is truly deserving of leading the league in power play minutes. Nevertheless, Enstrom is developing into a good power play quarterback.

Since it is rare to see a rookie given lots of power play time, especially a league leading amount, Tobias Enstrom is an interesting rookie. He may be a Calder Trophy nominee at the end of the season, but I doubt he will win the award.

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