Hockey fans have been treated to a fantastic crop of rookies this season. But which one of them will bring home the Calder Memorial Trophy ?
Artemi Panarin (58 GP/19G-35A): Possibly the most arguable Calder pick, as some feel as though Panarin should not be eligible due to the fact he has been playing pro hockey in the KHL since the 2009-2010 season. However, this does not negate the fact that he has an amazing skill set that fits very well with fellow teammate Patrick Kane. The two seem to compliment each other nicely and it is paying off for both Panarin and Kane. Now, a reason why I would not give Panarin rookie of the year honours is because: He is 24. He has been playing with older/bigger/faster players his entire life, compared to other rookies who have just come up from playing against 18 and 19 year olds. He also only has 1 even-strength point WITHOUT Patrick Kane on the ice. I think Kane is one of the big reasons why Panarin is thriving.
Dylan Larkin (56 GP/18G-20A): If you saw this guy at the World Juniors last year, you knew he would be a spectacular player once he made it to the NHL. His play for the Detroit Red Wings has been incredible, as he has been a very good asset at both ends of the ice. Larkin’s 18 goals currently rank him 2nd behind Artemi Panarin for the rookie lead. In my opinion, plus/minus is an outdated statistic and shouldn’t determine if a player is good or bad in his own end. However, Larkin’s +/- is currently at +25; for some people, this is useless, but what does it say ? It says that Larkin is on the ice very often when his team is putting the puck in the net and not the other way around. Rookies who are responsible defensively aren’t easy to find. It would be hard not to consider Larkin for the Calder.
Shayne Gostisbehere (38 GP/11G-21A): Every Flyers fan knows about the Ghost. Some NHL fans still aren’t aware of how good Shayne Gostisbehere really is. Ever since his arrival, he has sparked the Flyers’ roster. He is currently 5th in rookie scoring with only 38 games played, roughly 20 games less than other rookies. Gostisbehere is currently on a 13 game point streak, giving him the NHL record for consecutive games with points as a rookie defenseman. In addition, Gostisbehere is an excellent quarterback on the powerplay and could possibly sneak into the Young Guns World Cup roster. Only time will tell, but Gostisbehere doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Max Domi (56 GP/13G-23A): Max Domi is an incredible player. He arguably could have been in the NHL last season but was cut early from the Coyotes’ training camp. His extra year in the OHL did him a lot of good; he picked up 102 points in 57 games and was named best forward in the 2015 World Juniors, where he won gold with Team Canada. This season, Domi is giving Arizona fans a glimpse of what’s to come, as he is opening the eyes of many and is putting his amazing talent on display.
Jack Eichel (58GP/17G-22A): The Buffalo Sabres’ 2nd overall pick has been in the shadow of Connor McDavid for quite some time, but Jack Eichel is exactly what fans hoped he would be; a solid offensive force that will be the engine of the Buffalo Sabres’ for a very long time. Eichel started the season off slow, but he has shaped into a very formidable player and is now 2nd in rookie scoring behind Artemi Panarin. Eichel’s vision on the ice is absolutely incredible and he has a great shot. He will be dominant in the next few seasons.
Connor McDavid (21GP/9G-16A): Despite being injured for several months, Connor McDavid is lighting it up since his return to the lineup, he has 12 points in 7 games and could be making a statement for the Calder trophy. McDavid is also going to be the face of the Oilers for the next decade. His return has also been huge for fellow linemate Jordan Eberle, his game has stepped up a notch ever since McDavid’s return to the lineup.
Be on the lookout for all these rookies, because they are looking to push for the Calder Memorial Trophy.