Rookies get exposure

12 first-year players, including Carolina's Jeff Skinner, will take part in the SuperSkills competition this week.

Staff WriterJanuary 25, 2011 

— The All-Star Weekend will offer a chance to see many of the candidates for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the top rookie each season.

Carolina Hurricanes fans have already gotten a good look at Canes center Jeff Skinner, who leads league rookies in points and assists this season.

Skinner is one of 12 rookies chosen to participate along with the All-Stars in the SuperSkills competition, which will take place at the RBC Center on Saturday.

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture is also considered a top contender. He's second in points among rookies.

Couture is excited to meet the other rookies.

"We've got a lot in common, breaking into the league this year," Couture said, reached by phone. "It'll be nice to get to know them."

Couture admitted that the Calder Trophy is on his mind. He is taking the stance that if he's in the running for it, he's probably helping the Sharks in a big way.

"It's tough not to," he said. "It's in the back of my mind. It's not the very first thing I think about, when I think about hockey. But obviously I want my team to do well. With this team's success, individual success comes as well. I do think about it, but not a lot."

Edmonton forward Taylor Hall, the first pick in last year's draft, is third in goals and fourth in points.

Hall, reached by phone, said he's trying not to pay too close attention to his stats or those of the other rookies in the league.

"Especially at this stage of my career," Hall said. "I just want to focus on the process of being a better player."

Other rookies competing this weekend who are likely to be in Calder contention include New York Rangers center Derek Stepan, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle.

Boston Bruins defenseman John Carlson and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban have also been mentioned as contenders, but neither was invited to participate this weekend.

Voting for the award is conducted at the end of the season by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, so there's still nearly half a season left for others to play their way into the discussion.

Boston center Tyler Seguin, the second pick of last year's draft and one of the rookies participating this weekend, said the trophy isn't on his mind.

Right now, he's just trying to learn.

"There's a lot of adapting and learning curve to go through, especially this being my rookie year," Seguin said after the Bruins' Jan. 18 game at the RBC Center. "I'm learning a ton."

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