Rookie Rankings: Gallagher on top

Montreal's Brendan Gallagher leads the Calder Trophy race while St. Louis' Jake Allen is on the rise. Getty Images

Adding more intrigue to the NHL rookie of the year race, St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is back on the ice after spending more than a month on the sidelines following a concussion, serving notice that he is looking to regain his offensive punch. In his return on Saturday, the Russian forward had an assist in a 2-1 win over Anaheim.

Tarasenko was the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy earlier in the season before getting injured. He will have a tough mountain to climb as a number of quality rookies have been impressive in his absence, including teammate Jake Allen, who makes his debut on the rankings all the way at No. 5, and Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher, who retains the top spot.

Here's a look at how things shape up this week (statistics are through Sunday, March 17).

1. Brendan Gallagher, forward, Montreal Canadiens
Previous rank: No. 1

Many thought this season would be a tough campaign for Montreal, but instead the Canadiens have been a tough opponent and continue to impress in the East. The team has a new GM, several new free-agent additions and a new attitude -- thanks in part because of Gallagher, who has emerged as a leader. The undersized winger has not slowed down, posting three points in his past five games, and sits third in overall rookie scoring. His three game-winning goals and quality of play keep him atop my list for rookie of the year.