There’s a strong race shaping up for the NHL’s rookie of the year and though Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon remains on top, there’s a wolfpack on his heels. Injuries both minor (Aleksander Barkov) and major (Tomas Hertl) throw a bit of a wrench into the proceedings, but there can only be one Calder winner in the end. Here’s a look at the current candidates.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
That speed that MacKinnon used so effectively in junior? Still very much effective. The youngster has back-to-back two point games right now and leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (33) through 49 games. His faceoff work is improving, too.
2. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
The kid is on fire now, with five points in his past four games, one of which was a beautiful shorthanded goal in a win over Ottawa. Johnson`s 31 points are second only to MacKinnon and he has played more than 20 minutes in four of his past five outings.
3. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets have been much better under new coach Paul Maurice, especially Scheifele. The freshman had five points during Winnipeg`s recent four-game win streak and now sits fourth in rookie scoring with 28 overall.
4. Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets
The leader in average ice time among rookies, Trouba is playing 21:29 per night and also logging big minutes on the penalty kill. He has four points in his past four games, while also seeing more than his already-impressive average ice time under coach Maurice.
5. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Though he has cooled off, Kreider still ranks third among all freshmen scorers with 30 points in 46 games and did have a three-point night against the Islanders recently (though he was also minus-2 on the night). He has been particularly effective on the power play.
6. Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
Another hot blueliner, Murray has four points in his past five games and is one of only two Jackets defensemen with a positive CORSI rating. Columbus is the deadliest team in the league right now and Murray is pulling his weight.
7. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
The diagnosis wasn`t very good for Hertl, who will miss the Olympics due to his knee injury. The Sharks sniper still looks good on a points-per-game basis, but the sum total may not be enough by the end of the campaign.
8. Torey Krug, Boston Bruins
Still one of the most active Bruins blueliners, Krug has the best CORSI rating on the Boston back end, though he also starts a ton of his shifts in the offensive zone. Krug`s 11 goals and 25 points in 49 games lead all rookie defensemen.
9. Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
Maatta has five points in his past four games, including a deft goal against the Islanders that was also today`s highlight of the net on our blog. The solid Finn brings great skill at both ends of the rink and has really been a boon for the Pens.
10. Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks
Lindholm`s big stat is still his plus-23 rating. His Ducks teammates rave about him and Anaheim also happens to be the best team in the league. The youngster`s poise and size will benefit the Ducks for years to come.