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Calder Trophy Watch: Nathan MacKinnon takes over

Ryan Kennedy
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Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Calder Trophy Watch: Nathan MacKinnon takes over

Ryan Kennedy
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With Tomas Hertl on the sidelines and recovering from knee surgery, the San Jose Sharks freshman falls from the top of the Calder race. Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon now holds the crown.

With Tomas Hertl on the sidelines and recovering from knee surgery, the San Jose Sharks freshman falls from the top of the Calder race. Is it fair? Keep in mind this is a fluid list, but Hertl is expected to miss at least a month of service and if his recovery stretches on longer, you’re looking at a lot of games missed. Here are the new rankings.

1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado

The top scorer among rookies with 28 points in 43 games, MacKinnon is heating up with three multi-point efforts in his past five outings. He’s tied for fourth in team scoring on the Avs, who also happen to be a playoff team (which never hurts).

2. Tomas Hertl, San Jose

As I said in the intro, how much time Hertl misses may determine his fate. Back in 2012, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed 20 games for the Oilers and ended up second in Calder voting to Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, who tied ‘The Nuge’ with 52 points, but played in every game. So despite netting fewer points per contest, Landeskog wooed voters with his more complete game and similar total numbers to Nugent-Hopkins.

3. Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim

The gawdy plus-23 rating is too nice to ignore. But if you prefer “fancy stats,” Lindholm is also one of the Ducks’ best regulars when it comes to CORSI (all shots directed towards the net vs. those surrendered), ranking seventh on the best team in the NHL. The 13 points from the blueline in 43 games isn’t bad, either.

4. Torey Krug, Boston

The undersized D-man has slumped of late, though he did have a big game against Winnipeg with three points. Of particular note, however, is that Krug has the best CORSI among all Bruins blueliners and that includes Zdeno Chara – so good things happen when he’s on the ice.

5. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

Like Krug, Kreider’s season holds up well when confronted by fancy stats. His CORSI is actually the best on the team among Rangers who have played more than one game and with 11 goals and 24 points in 38 games, he’s near the top of the rookie scoring charts.

6. Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh

Where would the Penguins have been without Maatta when the team had injuries? And while we’re at it, imagine if Maatta had been on that gold-medal Finnish world junior team! The freshman blueliner has two points in his past two games and 14 overall in 44 contests, providing solid minutes for Pittsburgh.

7. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay

It’s tough to sort out the Lightning rookies, because they’ve all played well and contributed at different times. But Johnson gets the nod over Ondrej Palat by virtue of points, with the former Spokane Chiefs center ranking third among rookies with 24 through 44 games.

8. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg

Consider Scheifele a riser. On a Jets team going nowhere fast, he’s putting up points lately, with four in his past five games and increasing confidence in the faceoff dot. If Winnipeg ends up selling some assets as the futile campaign trudges along, Scheifele will be in a good position to make a name for himself.

9. Antti Raanta, Chicago

The fact no goalie has made this list more than once should caution me on the nomination, but Raanta is on fire for the Blackhawks and that cannot be ignored. The new Finnish guy is 11-1-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and yes, Chicago is a great team in front of him, but he’s no slouch back there.

10. Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas

The big Russian can thank the Stars for putting him in such a great position to succeed and with Tyler Seguin as his center, Nichushkin managed to play his way onto the Russian Olympic team for Sochi. His 22 points in 42 games is among the rookie leaders.

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Calder Trophy Watch: Nathan MacKinnon takes over