Calder Speculation in Light of the Ruutu Signing

Tuomo Ruutu, Chicago’s latest prospect signing, should bring a combination of hitting, goal scoring and raw talent that has been compared to that of a young Peter Forsberg. In 30 games with HIFK in Finland last season, Ruutu scored 12 goals and 17 assists. It is thought that Ruutu will be given every chance to make the Blackhawks’ roster this season, likely playing as the third line center behind Zhamnov and Arnason. This leads to some early consideration of Ruutu as a Calder Trophy candidate next season, so I thought I’d look at some other players who may also be in the running for top rookie of 2003-04.
This is all speculation, and I welcome other insights from other members! (I understand that to be considered for the Calder, you can’t have played more than 20 games in a season, which would mean guys like Chuck Kobasew, Mike Komisarek and Jason Spezza won’t qualify or else they’d have been included…)

And the candidates are (in no particular order):

Dan Hamhuis, Nashville: Nashville has traded away or lost to free agency a number of defensemen this off season, including Andy Delmore and Cale Hulse, and are indicating they may move some of their young defensive prospects into the mix. Hamhuis scored 60 points and 59 games in the WHL in 2001-02, and 27 points in 68 games in his first AHL season last year. Could definitely be a strong offensive d-man for the Preds, and may take some of Delmore’s PP role in his absence.

Jani Rita or Jarret Stoll, Edmonton: After buying out Dan Cleary, and losing Todd Marchant and Brian Swanson to free agency, there should be a roster spot or two open for Rita or Stoll to occupy. Raffi Torres will almost undoubtedly make the lineup as well, but has played too many games to be considered for the trophy. Rita is a highly touted left winger and first round pick from 1999, scoring 48 points in 64 games with Hamilton in the AHL, as well as 3 goals and an assist in 12 games with the Oilers. Stoll, a right winger/center, has been likened to Messier as a result of his skill and leadership qualities, and scored 54 points in 76 games with Hamilton. Stoll was also called up for four games with Edmonton last season, getting his sole assist on a beauty pass in his first game with the big club.

Joffrey Lupul, Anaheim: Don’t know what the chances are of this 20 year old making the Ducks’ roster next season, but he is anticipated to make an impact when he does. Lupul, a pure sniper, has played the last three seasons for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL, scoring a combined total of 127 goals and 240 points in 191 games.

Steve Ott, Dallas: The Stars are pretty high on Ott, despite a mostly average first year in the AHL where he scored 20 points in 40 games. Ott almost received a roster spot last season, being beat out in the end by Niko Kapanen. Ott brings goal scoring, speed and a strong ethic, and is also known as a big-time, high-energy agitator.

Brad Boyes, San Jose: With all the changes last season on the Sharks, it might not be surprising to see Brad Boyes make the roster this coming season. A first round pick from 2000, Boyes is noted for his strong hockey sense, consistency of play, playmaking ability, and sportsmanlike nature. Boyes had a strong first season in the AHL, scoring 51 points in 65 games with the St. John’s Maple Leafs. Could have an impact in the NHL as soon as next season, and may leave Leaf fans shaking their heads for years to come.

Andy Hilbert, Boston: Hilbert is a favorite for a roster spot on the Bruins this season. Hilbert is praised for being a strong two-way player, along the lines of John Madden or Chris Drury. He has steadily improved playing for the baby Bruins, scoring 70 points and 119 PIM in 64 games last season.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo: This pick is a big IF, considering Buffalo already has Miko Noronen and Martin Biron filling the goalie positions. However, Miller is a bit of a rookie phenomenon, and Buffalo may have to make room for their goalie of the future by trading either Biron or Noronen. Miller was given a test run with the Sabres at the end of last season when it was clear they wouldn’t be in the playoffs. Miller posted a respectable 2.63 GAA and 0.902 Save %, with 6 wins, 8 losses and a tie with Buffalo, including one shutout.

Ray Emery, Ottawa: Another goaltender that could impress is Ray Emery. So confident are the Senators in Emery that they traded away an outstanding backup goaltender in Martin Prusek in order to move Emery into the backup role. Last season Emery had 7 shutouts and a 2.42 GAA with Birmingham in the AHL. Emery is noted for being a strong positional goaltender with good puck controlling abilities, as well as being a fiery competitor who has been known to drop the gloves on occasion. Should be an exciting goaltender to watch.

Carlo Colaiacovo, Toronto: The Maple Leafs will definitely be looking to their youth to contribute on the blue line this season, and Colaiacovo has definitely impressed in his stints into the NHL so far. Colaiacovo is noted for having a strong all-around game, and is a capable quarterback on the PP, scoring 35 points in 35 games with the OHL’s Erie Otters last season (plus one assist in two games with the Leafs). Carlo may prove that the Leafs’ defensive concerns were unnecessary if he can translate his game well on the big stage.

Trent Hunter, New York Islanders: Hunter is a big right winger (6-3, 200lbs) who may win a roster spot with a strong 2003-04 training camp showing. Hunter has been compared to Andreychuk, as a combination of being a gifted goal scorer and a responsible defensive forward. May impress and stick on the Islanders this season.

Joni Pitkanen, Philadelphia: What can be said that hasn’t already been said about this highly regarded defensive prospect. At 6-3, Pitkanen combines size and skill on the blue line, and could make an impact as soon as this season. Despite being drafted fourth overall behind some amazing talent like Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen, and Jay Bouwmeester, there are some who believe Pitkanen may be turn out to be the top pick of 2002.

Finally, there may be some of this year’s draft picks that could challenge for the Calder if they make their respective squads. Forerunners would have to be Eric Staal in Carolina, Nathan Horton in Florida, and Nikolai Zherdev in Columbus.

I would welcome any thoughts on these Calder candidates, as well as any suggestions of players I may have missed. If I were to go out on a limb, I’d say that the Calder would go down to a final three including Tuomo Ruutu, Jani Rita, and Brad Boyes, although it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

25 Responses to Calder Speculation in Light of the Ruutu Signing

  1. swedishvoice says:

    Very good post, althow I miss two of the possible top five candidates…

    Mikka Hannula [Minnesota] Great ofensiv rightwing.

    Mikael Tellquist [Toronto] Great golie, will probably be the starter after Belfour…

  2. Senseriffic says:


    The Sens traded away Hurme because they were so high up on Prusek. Muckler really likes Emery, but right now, he’s the third goalie so any calder nominations (barring injuries) are premature.

  3. munkeyman70 says:

    One other guy to keep you eye on in Dallas is Antti Miettinen. The guy has a good shot at earning a spot in camp and posted good numbers in the SEL.

    Here is write up on him…

    Miettinen Name: Antti Miettinen

    Position: LW

    Shoots: Right

    Height: 5-11

    Weight: 180 lbs

    Birthdate: 1980-07-03

    Hometown: Hameenlinna, Finland

    Acquired: 224th overall, 7th round, 2000 draft


    Back in 2000, the Dallas Stars selected with the 224th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2000 Entry Draft a 19 year old left wing who had played 39 games with HPK in the SM-Liiga, amassing 2 goals and 1 assist. As with most seventh round selections, no one thought much of the pick at the time. From the draft, Miettinen was pegged as just another in the Stars vast collection of average-seeming two-way forward prospects.

    Starting in the 2000-2001 SM-Liiga season, Miettinen’s role for his club, HPK, become steadily more and more important. His numbers began to rise and, considering that he was a still developing 20 year old, were quite respectable. In that season, he was chosen to serve on Finland’s team competing at the Baltica Cup. In three games there, he potted a goal and an assist.

    In 2001-2002, Miettinen went from a virtual unknown in the Stars system to a top prospect with a terrific breakout year. Miettinen posted 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points in his 56 game season. He also finished the season with an amazing +32 plus-minus rating. In the postseason, Miettinen posted 2 goals and 4 assists in 8 games, compiling an impressive +7 without a minus as well. He also competed for Finland in three international competitions: the Baltica Cup, the Karjala Cup, and the IIHF World Championships. His most impressive performance was when he teamed with Stars prospect Niko Kapanen to tally 2 goals and 4 assists in 9 games at the World Championships.

    Miettinen followed his breakout year with another excellent SM-Liiga season. After a slow start, Miettinen came on to still contend for the point scoring title, playing his brand of fine all-around hockey. Finishing the regular season with 25 goals and assists each in 53 games, Miettinen fell short of the point scoring title but was instead awarded the Lasse Oksanen trophy as the SM-Liiga’s most outstanding regular season player. His playoff year, where he posted a goal and seven assists in ten games, was respectable, but he missed three games after being suspended for a kneeing incident. Again, Miettinen was a staple of the Finnish national teams in several tournaments. His numbers dropped from the World Championships the year before, but his role was diminished to that of a depth forward due to the large number of NHL players competing.

    Talent Analysis

    Strengths: Miettinen possesses a very well-rounded game. His style is very smooth. Just about every part of his offensive package is good, whether it be passing, shooting, or skating. He can also handle physical play. Miettinen is sound positionally in all zones. He is a coach’s dream since he accepts nearly any role given to him.

    Weaknesses: While technically not a huge weakness, Miettinen lacks the flash of most top prospects. He does not really posses any attributes to his game that are outstanding, like breakaway speed, a killer shot, or outstanding playmaking genius. His relative lack of size and strength may become an issue at the NHL level.


    Given the Stars’ drive to become a quicker, more physical, transition team, Miettinen may be the perfect player to help fill the Stars roster from within.

    His unusual combination of attributes could help him develop into a player similar to Jere Lehtinen, but possibly more offensive minded with a weaker defensive game and a more twisted offensive style than Lehtinen’s straightforward play.

    Under contract for the next two seasons, Miettinen will play in North America. He has a decent chance to earn himself a roster spot at camp this year, but he may need time in the minors to adapt to the North American game and add strength. If he can stick at camp, he will likely be on a checking line to start.

  4. YzermanZetterberg says:

    I saw Andy Hilbert at a University of Michigan alumni game this summer and was very impressed — he scored twice on Marty Turco (1 in pre-game skills competition, the other in the game).

    Granted it was a scrimmage, but it was against Turco, and both were great wrist shots where Turco wasn’t screened.

  5. jofa says:

    Hey thanks for the note. Yeah, I don’t know how I got the two (hurme and prusek) mixed up! Like you say, barring injuries or unless Prusek is moved as well, Emery may stay in the minors all next season.


  6. jofa says:

    I’ve never seen him play, but he definitely sounds promising. Even in a scrimmage, scoring twice on Turco would be pretty impressive.

    I guess the only thing holding him back is the fact that Boston has Rolston, Stock, Stumpel and Thornton ahead of Hilbert on the depth chart at C.

  7. SamSamsanov says:

    Stumpel was traded to the LA Kings recently, so there is an opening for 3rd line center on the Bruins’ roster.

    I was actually at Hilbert’s first NHL game, which was against Montreal at the Fleetcenter, and he only played a small amount but looked like one of the better players on the ice that night in my opinion. He scored a goal in that game.

    I expect Hilbert to make the lineup full-time this season (along with Huml and/or Samuelsson) but I don’t envision any of the Bruins’ prospects competing for the Calder.

  8. SamSamsanov says:

    Can anyone clarify the rules about being a Calder trophy candidate?

    I found the following on the Philadelphia Flyers website in a press release from a while back (might not be up to date):

    To be eligible for the Calder, according to League rules, “a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league.” The player also cannot be older than 26 years before September 15 to qualify

    That would make Kobasew and Komisarek eligible, but not Spezza (33 games played). I could have sworn though that he was eligible and that I had heard people talking about him getting the Calder this year.

    Can anyone help please?

  9. PantherPaw says:

    Horton may be a prospect, but I really think Anthony Stewart will make a huge impact if he makes the Panthers’ squad this year. He has the size, speed, skill and most importantly, the maturity to make the jump.

  10. jofa says:

    Yeah, thats right. I just did a quick check on cbs.sportsline of the bruins roster and they had still listed stumpel, but i guess they hadn’t updated yet. For sure he will be in the lineup then. Even if he’s getting a third line role and some decent minutes, you can’t see him competing for the calder?

  11. jofa says:

    I was trying to find the exact requirements as well, and found something about 20 games, so just based it on that. If it is 25, that would definitely make it more interesting by throwing Komisarek and Kobasew into the mix. Yeah, if anyone out there knows what it is exactly, I’d be interested. Spezza would be a favorite if he could qualify, but I’m pretty sure he’s played too many games.

  12. cwthrash says:

    Above me, someone mentioned Miettinen as a possibility. How about we include his linemate at HPK, Tommi Santala.

    Top 5 in scoring; point per game pace in Finland. Also quite a few PIMs. A playmaking center who is equally adept at playing on the left side. An advantage he may have over some candidates is that he has continuallly gotten better over the last three years playing in a professional league, he is a bit older than most going for the Calder, and if he shows his offensive spark early he will get the chance to play alongside the other great offensive talents in Atlanta.

    I don’t have the first clue of who even has a chance. Some of the names mentioned will either fail to make the big club or will struggle should they play in the NHL this season.

  13. DaAvs says:

    Well I’ll be the only one to predict this but hey, what the heck is the fun in having an opinion and not sharing it?

    Phillipe Sauve will get some consideration by the end of the year. Last year I thought he was going to beat out Abby for backup of Roy. Now with guranteed backup games…He may be able to win the starting role.

  14. Habfan1234 says:

    To be considered as a Calder Trophy nominee for the 2003-2004 season a player must not have played 26 or more games in all of his carrer prior to this season and must be under 26 years of age. So Mike Komisarek and Chuk Kobasew are eligable this year. Komisarek could win it this year (if he gets enough ice time and games played) because he plays a style similar to Barrett Jackman’s.

  15. Captainspoon says:

    I like Rita.

  16. great_one98 says:


  17. MossRocks says:

    Oilers are not as high on Rita as they once were. Maybe he’ll turn it around in camp, but he had a bad playoffs in Hamilton last year. Torres and Stoll are higher on the depth chart in Edmonton right now.

  18. jofa says:

    Yeah it’ll be interesting to see what the Oilers decide to do with this trio, as all three of them should be able to contribute in the lineup. I think Torres is as much as guaranteed a position, and as long as Chimera and Pisani remain in the lineup, Stoll and Rita may be injury fillers this season.

    Its funny how Rita has been shuffled to the side somewhat. Whenever they talk of players likely to make the team, they are talking about Stoll, Torres, Conklin, even Bergeron, but like you say, aren’t as high on Rita anymore. Maybe they’ll give him another season to see if he improves, but he could also end up as possible trade bait this year.

  19. Treva says:

    This guy had better be as good as you say he is. Otherwise he is not going to get the ice time in Dallas, he may be good in a few years but there are too many high priced players in dallas that demand more ice time than rookies, so he better stand out, and fast

  20. Slavik says:

    i dont think ruutu willw in it, i think he will play 82 games get 10 goals 10 assits and end being an over paid fairly skilled pest. 😀

    however here is a black sheep to watch out for.

    Brandon reid

    The guy can score but his defensive game needs abit of work, every one says he is to small but hey he took the beating in the play offs, if he plays perhaps 40-50 pts if given the chance. (perhaps wishfull thinking but we will see)

  21. Slavik says:

    crap i wish i coudl edit my post

    dark horse not black sheep 🙁

  22. Zamboni says:

    God I hope not. The first promising player the Hawks have picked up in years…if he wins the Calder, he’d get way too expensive for Dollar Bill to keep around long…

  23. Lint07 says:

    Mike Komisarek might be a good bet!

  24. orlandomac says:

    Excellent post…

    for a guy that loves to see younf talent tested, I thought your list was exceptional, I just hope these players get a good shot at it.

    Look at Toronto and Pat Quinn, he would call up a player from the farm team, who is getting first line action and lots of PP time then throw them on the fourth line in a checking role, and expect them to turn Travis Green and Tie Domi into superstars with their 6 mins of game time.

    Unfortunately this league has missed out on a Gretzky and Lemieux over the last two decades because the kids aren’t given the confidence or the ice time to succeed. Then these dinosaurs proclaim how that these players aren’t to be found. There is too few exceptions to these rules around the league, the teams the have given players a chance have some young talented players on their rosters.

    Being a Leaf fan I currently am very attracted to the play of Ian White, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure to watch this kid play, I’ll briefly promote his skills.

    Although he is a very small player for a defencemen, he overcame this hurdle and starred for the World Canadian Jr team. This kid has the most amazing shot I’ve ever seen. Not as hard as MacInnis but much more acurate and what a quick release. He scored 4 goals for the Jr’s and added a few assists, this all from only limited ice time on the power plays.

    If the Leaf management was wise and they are not.

    They should usher in a new era of the specialty teams, just like in football, players solely responsible for certain aspects of special teams.

    If they dressed this kid just to play on the powerplay he would shatter any rookie records as it pertained to defenceman scoring.

    Yet you wouldn’t have to hurt his confidence by taking a regular shift alongside professional players who have years of experience on the lad.

    This kid to me is the true word of a phenom, his other Canadian Jr teammate Fleury would also classify in that categorie I just hope Pittsburgh doesn’t destroy that kid.

    Sorry for ramblin….

    but GIVE THE KIDS A CHANCE… or else we will miss out on another few decades of superstars, and I mean partner them with some quality players on the top two lines in a limited role.

    Maybe the salary cap will help in getting rid of all the dinosaurs still employed in the league to only bore us all to sleep.

  25. cgolding says:

    as a flyers fan i’m obviously really hoping pitkanen makes a push for the calder, but it is also a little bit more interesting than that. for anyone that didn’t see his contract, it is extremely incentive laden with different accomplishments, ice time and what not. one of those being the calder. so if the boy wants to make some serious cash he gonna be pushing for that calder. the only problem is i think it is hard to win as a d-man, you need to watch them a lot in order to appreciate their skills at stopping the other team, offensive numbers speak louder to a voter who only got a chance to see you play 5 games or whatever.


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