Scott Burnside of ESPN.com, gives his 1/4 season awards with a few familiar faces making the list...
Rookie "King" Award
Most of the rookie star power is concentrated in the Western Conference, but one interesting first-year player in the East is Atlanta's Tobias Enstrom. An eighth-round pick, Enstrom looks like he could be the puck-moving defenseman and power-play quarterback the Thrashers have long been searching for. Enstrom, 24, doesn't have size (5-foot-10, 175 pounds), but he is averaging 22:58 in ice time (tops among rookies) and is the top-scoring rookie defenseman and fourth among all first-year players with 10 points in 20 games.
Honorable mention: Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who continues to improve by the minute.
...nice to see Staal's getting recognition around the league for his ever improving play.
I Knew He Was Good, But Not That Good" Award
Everyone knew Vincent Lecavalier was a good player. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy a season ago as the NHL's top goal scorer, so we know he's not chopped vulcanized rubber. But the big center has taken his game to (cliché warning) a completely different level early this season. Lecavalier leads the league in scoring, never a bad thing, with 34 points in 20 games. Those who know him say he's grown exponentially on and off the ice, and it won't be hard to see him wearing the captain's C for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Honorable mention: New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who is on a collision course with a Vezina Trophy, and maybe even the Hart as league MVP.
...Lundqvist has been outstanding so far this year. I shutter to think where the Rangers would be without him. Big turn around from where Lundqvist's game was at this time last year.
The "Welcome Aboard" Award
Of the top 25 NHL scorers, only one was not with his current team a season ago, and that is Chicago rookie Patrick Kane. It tells you that swinging the big trade or buying that big free agent doesn't necessarily mean a pot of gold. Sometimes, it's all about the quality of the person, not the quantity of the press clippings.
Take our pick in the Eastern Conference, Matt Cullen, who returned to the Hurricanes after one season with the New York Rangers. Cullen, a member of Carolina's Cup-winning squad from 2005-06, has helped the Canes re-establish themselves as one of the top offensive clubs in the NHL (they are second in goals per game and power-play efficiency). Cullen, who often mans the point on the power play, has 20 points in 21 games through Monday and is en route to a career season.
...wouldn't mind seeing Cullen on the point for the Rangers this year. Although Renney would probably have him playing down low. Just kidding coach.