Tomas Hertl, who has been in the driver’s seat all season long, was injured in a knee-on-knee collision with Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown and the early outlook is not good. How much time Hertl misses may determine the fate of the rookie race.
Thursday night’s events may have a dramatic effect on the Calder race. Tomas Hertl, who has been in the driver’s seat all season long, was injured in a knee-on-knee collision with Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown and the early outlook is not good. How much time Hertl misses may determine the fate of this rookie race, but for now he remains on top.
1. Tomas Hertl, San Jose
Before the run-in with Brown (which, I don’t believe was intentional, though I’m sure Sharks fans would disagree), Hertl still had a comfortable lead in the scoring race, with 25 points through 35 games.
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
Consistency has been the key for MacKinnon, who hasn’t gone more than two games without a point since a late October skid. He now ranks second in rookie scoring behind Hertl, with 20 points in 34 games and a chance to make up some ground.
3. Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim
The Ducks keep winning and Lindholm continues to impress. He’s plus-8 in his past four games and averaging 19:22 of ice time per contest. The offense from the poised defender is also coming, with two points in his past three games.
4. Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas
Nichushkin is beginning to show some serious form for the Stars and his combination of size and skill makes him so hard to stop. Coach Lindy Ruff believes the Russian teen has adjusted from some early fatigue and now Nichushkin has three points in his past four games, bringing him up to 18 points in 33 games and into the logjam of players tied for third in the scoring race.
5. Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles
Some have speculated that the addition of Toffoli and fellow rookie Linden Vey actually helped wake up the Kings from some early apathy, as the recent Stanley Cup champs were so comfy. Toffoli continues to impress with 17 points in 22 games, despite playing just 13 minutes a night.
6. Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg
While former Team USA teammate Seth Jones has seen his ice time dive in Nashville, Trouba continues to be a stalwart for the Jets. Trouba has played at least 20 minutes a game in his past four outings, including a 25:52 effort against Colorado.
7. Torey Krug, Boston
Still one of top freshmen scorers in the NHL, Krug has slowed down dramatically with just one point in his past five games and a moderate dip in ice time. Playing on a strong Boston team, he shouldn’t be surprised if there are times the Bruins don’t need as much of a contribution from him.
8. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay
A new entry, Johnson has always been an underdog who has earned every opportunity. Though he’s not going to replace Steven Stamkos, Johnson has provided secondary offense for the Bolts all season and has been pretty decent in the faceoff circle for a rookie.
9. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
With just one point in his past five games, Kreider is slumping, though still finds himself tied for third in rookie scoring with 18 points through 28 games. On the positive side of the ledger, he’s a plus-9 on a team filled overwhelmingly with minuses.
10. Martin Jones, Los Angeles
How can we not mention Jones? He’s only undefeated in seven decisions with three shutouts, a 0.85 goals-against average and a .971 save percentage. Oh, and he tallied an assist in a big win over San Jose Thursday night. Once Jonathan Quick returns, Jones may be the odd-man out with Ben Scrivens also playing well, but it’s been quite the ride so far.