The ROOKIE RACE
With recent developments with both Evgeni Malkin’s defection and Kessel’s signing in Boston we are forced to take a second look at the Calder trophy standings for this year.
Who are the contenders? Is there anyone who can beat Malkin’s early and higly touted shoe-in for the award?
As we have seen in the last few weeks, players whom we thought were not going to play this year have come back into the fold, and now may make a splash in the NHL. I wonder who will make the biggest impact on the way to winning the Calder Trophy.
Will the highly touted Malkin walk away with it?
Or will he Run?
This is a list of the most relevant contenders I came up with, along with some speculation or consideration.
Evgeni Malkin, PIT
Considered by many to be the best player outside the NHL. Will be a Second line center in Pittsburgh and likely share power-play time with Crosby. Projections for his output are in the high 80s.
Phil Kessel, BOS
Highly talented goal scorer, passed on university development and will make the jump to the big club this year and likely onto the second line with Mark Savard and Glen Murray. Could score 30-40 goals, and maybe even 80 points himself if the rest of the line gels or he sees PP time.
Alexander Radulov, NAS
League leader in the QMJHL last year with 152 pts and will likely crack second line duties this year with Legwand and Sullivan. Had a very impressive 50 game point streak. Projected to get 54 pts.
Glibert Brule, CBJ
Scored 4 pts in 7 Games last year with CBJ, while netting 38 pts/27 GP in minors and also missing 36 games to injury. Expected to slide into Center on either of the top two lines of the Blue Jackets, to play with either Nash, Zherdev, Modin, or Vyborny. Projected to get 57 pts. Or so.
Patrick O’Sullivan, LA
Rookie of the Year in OHL, followed by Rookie of the Year in the AHL last year. Is down-deep in the LA depth charts, but the re-tooling (as opposed to rebuilding) that the team is undergoing could see him make the jump to the second line. Projected to have 53 points, but will do it on his own as the team is not overrun with talent, but rather prospects. Will need chemistry to succeed.
Anze Kopitar, LA
While only 19, curiously, he appears higher on some depth charts then Patrick O’Sullivan does. However, he has the same outlook as O’Sullivan in that he will be required to gel with line-mates to be effective. Projected to garner 30 pts.
Rob Schremp, EDM
Projected 38 pts. Is number 4 on the depth charts, and will maybe have to suffer by adapting to the system in Edmonton, which could hurt his production. On the flip side they could just as likely unleash him as a goal scorer as it was something they lacked during the regular season last year.
Bobby Ryan, ANA
Expected to crack the line-up this year on lower line duties to ‘feel him out’ and see what he can handle. The Ducks are contenders this year, and will need to score the same as they did last year to avoid being ousted early. Could see time playing with Ryan Getlzaf for an Energy line in depth. Getzlaf is coming off a very promising second half. Projected to have 34 pts.
Jiri Hudler, DET
Hudler finished 3rd in the AHL with 96 pts. He climbs into a deep Detroit line-up, with a crowded top two lines, or established players. He will need to perform very well to require someone else’s demotion. Projected 50 pts although Detroit is famous for developing talented European players. He could make a jump to a higher line in order to create more talented bottom end in the line-up, but I doubt it.
Honorable Mentions – Nicholas Backstrom (WAS), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (EDM), Nikolai Kulemin (TOR)
I have to be somewhere so I have run out of time to write more. Spare me if I miss one or two others that you may prefer, or if I have mistakenly put in someone that does not qualify (I doubt it). Also I am not 100% sure on the required games played in a previous season to no longer qualify for this year, so if I have missed anyone, again, and by all means put their names forth in the comments, and why.