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Rookie Report: The buzz in Beantown

Brad Marchand has nine points in his past nine games. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Brad Marchand has nine points in his past nine games. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

One early Calder candidate has already been traded, while several other rookies are making great second-half pushes for the award as well. Will they run out of games in which to prove themselves, or will recent performances stick in the heads of voters when the time comes?

One thing is for certain – these kids have raised their games as they’ve gotten more comfortable.

Michael Grabner, RW, NY Islanders

The speedy Austrian has been lights-out since the All-Star Game (10 goals in 12 games), where he took fastest skater honors in the skills competition. Grabner has posted 25 goals in 57 games, putting him first among freshmen in the category.

Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton

The top pick in 2010 notched his first NHL hat trick this week and did it in trivia-inducing style; all three goals came on the power play. Hall has now cracked the 20-goal mark and is playing more than 18 minutes a game for the Oilers.

Brad Marchand, C, Boston

They’re calling for Calder buzz in Beantown for Marchand, the scrappy, hard-hitting grinder who is blossoming into a dynamic two-way center. The rookie sits third amongst all NHLers with a plus-24 rating and second in shorthanded goals with four. He also has five points in his past five games.

James Reimer, G, Toronto

How’s this for a mind-blowing stat – if Reimer continues his current pace, he will seriously challenge Boston’s Tim Thomas for the best save percentage in the NHL. The Leafs rookie currently boasts a .934 mark, just slightly off Thomas’s .939. And with the rest of Toronto’s goalies ailing, Reimer will get plenty more opportunities to shine before the year is done.

Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis

As one of the principles in the biggest pre-deadline trade to date, the spotlight was firmly on Shattenkirk when his former Avalanche teammates came to his new home in St. Louis. The young defenseman didn’t disappoint, assisting on a goal from fellow tradee Chris Stewart. However, Erik Johnson, who went the other way, got the last laugh with a goal and the win for the Avs.

Corey Crawford, G, Chicago

The Hawks are life-and-death to get back into the playoffs and Crawford is keeping them alive with his play between the pipes. The youngster has won three of his past four starts, giving up just five even-strength goals during the stretch. His 2.17 goals-against average also ranks fourth among netminders in the NHL.

Mats Zuccarello, LW, NY Rangers

He may have dropped the ‘Aasen’ from his name, but he’ll always be ‘The MZA’ to us. After starting the season in the minors, Zuccarello has come on strong for the Blueshirts and has seven points in his past 11 games. He also hasn’t taken a single penalty in the NHL through 27 appearances.

Grant Clitsome, D, Columbus

His emergence was one of the reasons the Jackets sent Mike Commodore to the minors and Clitsome hasn’t let up since. The 25-year-old is on a three-game point streak and has been logging serious minutes on the back end. He’s averaging almost 21 minutes per game, but in the past four contests hasn’t played less than 21:35.

Brandon McMillan, C, Anaheim

The Ducks love McMillan’s grit and defensive play, but the 20-year-old has also been contributing on offense lately. McMillan has four points in his past five games and 16 overall through 38 matches. He’s even logging time on the penalty kill.

Joe Vitale, C, Pittsburgh

With the Pens going through a wave of high-profile injuries this season, spots have become available for willing youngsters. Vitale, a Northeastern standout, has gotten into six games in February and acquitted himself well, tallying two points in the process.

The Rookie Report covers the top performances from first year NHLers. From Calder candidates to brief call-ups, we'll bundle all the best together every other week only on thehockeynews.com

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