As many of you know, last week I made the journey to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Overall, it was pretty impressive- all the greats, some awesome videos, and even a replica Montreal Canadiens locker room. One of the highlights of the trip was checking out the highly recognized NHL trophies. When I saw the Calder I made sure to take a photo, and I promised myself I would finally get to writing this article. But before I can discuss who should be considered for this highly-esteemed award, I need to discuss the award itself.
Right next to the trophy, was this displayed text: “Calder Memorial Trophy- An annual award to ‘the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.’ Winner selected in 1 poll by the Professional Hockey Writers’Association at the end of the regular schedule. From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, Frank Calder, NHL President, bought a trophy each year to be given permanently to the outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory. To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible”.
That might tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the Calder, but I think it is important to know the significance behind these awards (and how many stipulations there are- gees!). Many hockey greats and current superstars have won the Calder in the past. These players include Terry Sawchuk, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Mario Lemieux, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Ray Bourque, Pavel Bure, Daniel Alfredsson, Teemu Selanne, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin.
But on to the candidates… There are 5 rookies that I believe are in the running to win the Calder. Each player has specific strengths that make them a great candidate for the trophy. The five players include (not in any order):
- Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
- Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
- Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
- Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres
When looking at point totals and scoring, Nugent-Hopkins has the advantage. Nugent-Hopkins is tied with Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie lead with 52 points, even though Nugent-Hopkins has played 20 less games.
Goals: Advantage Matt Read
Matt Read had the most goals for a rookie in the regular season. He tallied 24 goals this season. Even more impressive was Read’s clutch plays. He scored a whopping total of 6 game-winning goals. He is an integral part of the Flyers goal-scoring team and is constantly converting his shots. He has a 15.5% shot percentage which is above all the other rookies in the running for the Calder this year.
Landeskog finished the regular season with a +20 +/-. This stat just proves how cognizant Landeskog is when he is out on the ice. He is an all around player and is involved in both ends of the play. Landeskog clearly has the advantage in this category.
Powerplay: Advantage Cody Hodgson
This season, Cody Hodgson finished with 7 powerplay goals. This is especially impressive because these goals have been spread out between Hodgson’s time with the Canucks and the Sabres. He is consistent on the powerplay no matter who he is playing with. He has great vision on the ice, and is comfortable leading in the PP.
Shorthanded: Advantage Adam Henrique
Henrique converted 4 short-handed goals this season. He is the leader in this category among all rookies and is tied with only 2 vets for the lead (Cal Clutterbuck and Mike Richards). Part of this advantage is due to Zach Parise’s innate ability to strip players of the puck, but Henrique is always very alert and ready with a solid shot.
Opinions? Anyone think Hagelin should be on this list? Who do you think will win?