Now that we’re into the thick of the season, the rookie race is beginning to take more shape. Players who boomed out of the gates have either maintained their pace or succumbed to the increasing attention enemy teams paid towards them. Here’s a look at the race for the Calder Trophy right now.
Now that we’re into the thick of the season, the rookie race is beginning to take more shape. Players who boomed out of the gates have either maintained their pace or succumbed to the increasing attention enemy teams paid towards them. There are some exceptions however: players who have been called up during the campaign and are now proving that maybe they should have been in the NHL all season long. Here’s a look at the race for the Calder Trophy right now.
Tomas Hertl, San Jose
Still top of the scoring charts? Still top of the scoring charts. Hertl’s 14 goals and 22 points through 28 games are the high water mark for freshmen and with Brent Burns back in the lineup, it wouldn’t be shocking if the wild man’s rookie linemate even increases his pace in the near future.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Give it up for the kid on his first NHL hat trick, eh? When Kreider made the caps rain at Madison Square Garden on the weekend, he did so in the best of circumstances: in a big win over the Vancouver Canucks, the team now coached by John Tortorella. ‘Torts’ was bearish on Kreider when he was in New York, but now the youngster is proving his worth under Alain Vigneault.
Sean Monahan, Calgary
Tough to categorize Monahan right now, since he’s week-to-week with a hairline fracture in his foot. Calgary has said the teen would not be loaned to Canada for the world juniors and based on the impact he’s had on the NHL team, it’s the right move. Monahan had three points in his past five games before the injury.
Torey Krug, Boston
The production just keeps coming from Krug, the undersized blueliner who nevertheless is leading all frosh defensemen in scoring. The Michigan State alum is second only to Hertl with 16 points in 28 games and tied with Kreider and our next candidate.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
The No. 1 overall pick in 2013 is hot right now with three points in his past three games and 16 overall through 26 matches. The Avs had a weird long break, so MacKinnon hasn’t actually played that many games since the first Calder Watch, but he’s maintaining his offensive pace.
Seth Jones, Nashville
So much for limiting his ice time. In the past two games, Jones has played 24:40 and 29:40 for the Preds and the latter was a regulation loss to Vancouver. The big blueliner is averaging nearly 24 minutes a game even though coach Barry Trotz was trying to ration out the shifts. On the negative side, Jones has one point, an assist, and is a minus-3 in his past five games.
Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles
Don’t be surprised if Toffoli makes a big jump in the next edition of Calder Watch. In 15 games with the Kings, he has 11 points and has helped jump-start a team that was looking for mojo. Though he has a smaller sample size than others, things are pointing in the right direction.
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg
The affable blueliner posted his second multi-point NHL game in a recent outing against the Rangers and looks no worse for wear after his scary neck injury. Second only to Jones in ice time with a flat 21 minutes per game, Trouba can also rise once he gets in more games.
Marek Mazanec, Nashville
Mazanec has played better than his 5-6-1 record would indicate. Taking over for the sidelined Pekka Rinne is a gargantuan task for a freshman, but Mazanec has proven his worth with a .922 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average.
Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim
Though no one likes plus-minus anymore, it’s still a checkmark on Lindholm’s resume that he leads all freshmen with a plus-12. He’s playing more than 19 minutes a game on a very good Ducks team and with two points in his past four games, the offense is starting to rev up, too.