Next in line of Rock the Red's Capitals Awards Ceremony is recognizing the Washington Capitals organization's Rookie of the Year. The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League." The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association following the regular season. To be eligible for the award, "a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league." Additionally, he must not "be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible." The current holder of the trophy is Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes, who was 18 at the time the trophy was awarded and the first teenager to win since Patrick Kane in 2007-08. The nominees for the 2011-12 season are the New Jersey Devils' Adam Henrique, the Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche.
And the nominees are, in alphabetical order:
Cody Eakin C, 30GP, 20 years old
Being drafted by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Cody Eakin impressed everyone during his stint in Development Camp with his speed and playmaking ability. The 20-year old got his chance to play for the Caps early in the season, making his NHL debut on November 1st, but quickly showed he was still a bit rough around the edges in taking bad penalties and often looking out of place. Although playing more than 13 minutes only twice this season, Eakin was able to contribute offensively with 4 goals and 4 assists, and nearly scored on his first shift in the NHL. Eakin was a Route 15 warrior this season, being sent down and recalled seven times each throughout the season.
Braden Holtby G, 7GP, 22 years old
Braden Holtby was selected in the 4th round of the 2008 draft, and after playing 14 games in 2010-11, seemed to be the netminder to spell fellow ex-Bear Michal Neuvirth throughout the season. That is, until the Capitals signed free agent veteran Tomas Vokoun during the off season. Holts played in seven games in the 2011-12 season, starting six, and of all rookies playing 7+ games, he had the second best Sv % (.922 vs. Jacob Markstrom's .932). He finished the regular season with a GAA of 2.49, including one shutout. In 5-on-5 situations, Holtby's Sv % was .932 and was 21-for-25 when playing a man down for a Sv % of .840.
Dmitry Orlov D, 60GP, 20 years old
The 2nd round draft pick of the 2009 draft for the Caps, Orlov exceeded all expectations in the 60 games he played for the Caps this season. His mobility and physicality were very impressive for a rookie, and he looked more and more at ease with each passing game. While there were some rough edges needing to be smoothed out, Orlov continually worked to better his game and rarely looked frazzled on the ice. Most importantly, the rookie was able to be counted on with Mike Green's absence due to injury, contributing 3 goals and 16 assists (2nd among rookie defensemen), and even saw some time on the power play. His defensive play and awareness showed up as a +1 rating, 99 hits (5th among rookie defensemen), 54 blocked shots, 23 takeaways (6th among rookie D) and only 18 penalty minutes.