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2023 Calder Trophy Tracker: The Pre-Season Long List

A new year means we have a new batch of rookies to compete for the honor. The list includes first-overall picks, dynamic defensemen, impressive goal scorers, slick playmakers, and so much more. Here's a look at 20 of the top rookies for 2022-23.
Owen Power

Each month, Tony Ferrari is going to go through the NHL’s rookie class and keep you up to date on the race for the Calder trophy by doing a running ranking throughout the year of the league’s best newcomers. To kick things off, take a look at 20 rookies on the long list heading into the season.

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A new year means we have a new batch of rookies to compete for the honor. The list includes first-overall picks, dynamic defensemen, impressive goal scorers, slick playmakers, and so much more.

So let’s dive into the long list of possible Calder Trophy candidates for the 2022-23 NHL season.

1 | C Matty Beniers | Seattle Kraken | 2nd Overall, 2021

The Seattle Kraken had Beniers step in and play 17 minutes a night in his ten-game stint after his NCAA season ended last year and all he did was put up nine points and play a solid 200-foot game immediately. A highly skilled transition center who understands the nuances of playing a defensive game while maintaining the pace and skill to attack the game offensively as well. Beniers is the most well-rounded rookie and will also likely play one of the most significant roles of any rookie. Likely beginning the season as the Kraken’s top-line center, Beniers could get the opportunity to play with the team’s two biggest offseason acquisitions in Stanley Cup winner Andre Burakovsky and the incredibly underrated Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Because of the lack of high-end talent throughout the roster, Beniers will be given plenty of opportunities – but that also means his supporting cast to help him generate offensive isn’t great. If Seattle can get better goaltending, they should be a better overall team. Beniers should be productive and could be the team's leading scorer by the season’s end.

2 | D Owen Power | Buffalo Sabres | 1st Overall, 2021

The Sabres got a glimpse of what to expect from Power in the short stint he played towards the end of the regular season last year after he joined the squad when his NCAA season ended. Power played with Canada at the canceled World Junior Championship in December and the Canadian Olympic squad in February on top of his NCAA season at the University of Michigan before playing eight NHL games. The 2021 first overall pick has excelled everywhere he’s played over the last two years but doing so in the NHL will be a massive step.

The 6-foot-6 blueliner is widely regarded as one of the favorites to win the Calder because of his profile as a skilled offensive defender who could rack up some points while playing a big role for the Sabres. Power played over 22 minutes a night for the Sabres, with more than a few opportunities on the power play. 

3 | C/W Mason McTavish | Anaheim Ducks | 3rd Overall, 2021

After a short stint in the NHL to start last season that included a short AHL stint as well, McTavish was returned to the OHL and helped lead the Hamilton Bulldogs to an OHL championship with a brief stop at the Olympics on the way. McTavish played in the NHL, AHL, OHL, world juniors, and Olympics in the last calendar year, capturing numerous accolades along the way. His true rookie season in the NHL this upcoming season could be quite impressive on the back of his stellar 2021-22 season.

McTavish plays a solid two-way game and brings an element of power and offensive flair to the game. While he is a natural center, he may not have a path to top-six minutes as a center because Zegras has seemingly locked down the number one center role and offseason acquisition Ryan Strome looks poised to fill in on the second line. This could mean that McTavish could very well start off his NHL career as a winger in the top-six despite his prowess down the middle. The Canadian has a pro-ready shot and could be a force along the boards, possibly making him a natural fit with Zegras. The Ducks could look to build the chemistry between the duo that could make them a lethal combination moving forward, with Zegras helping McTavish capture the Calder that he came just short of securing himself.

4 | RW Cole Perfetti | Winnipeg Jets | 10th Overall, 2020

The Winnipeg Jets seem poised to inject Perfetti into the lineup after he tore the AHL up in his short stint there last year. An injury prevented him from truly taking flight in a Jets uniform but the delay should put him in prime contention to fight for the Calder. Perfetti is an incredibly skilled and intelligent forward who should fit right in with the Jets’ top-six and give them a dual-threat attacker on the power play. His playmaking is cerebral, and he possesses a lethal shot that can beat a goalie clean. He isn’t the fastest player and he isn’t going to throw big hits, but that’s not what he'll be asked to do. His job is going to be making the players around him more dangerous and if he can establish some chemistry with the Jets' top forwards, he could very well help reignite their offense this upcoming season. As with most rookies, the opportunity will play a significant role though, and if he is saddled to the Jets’ bottom-six forwards, the Calder will be further from his reach.

5 | LW Kent Johnson | Columbus Blue Jackets | 5th Overall, 2021

Johnson is one of the more exciting players on this list because his raw talent level is about as high as anyone’s, but there are questions about his true readiness for the NHL and his spot in the lineup. The Blue Jackets have a fairly established top-nine if you include Johnson in that, but the order and combinations are much less set in stone. Johnson could line up opposite any of the likes of Patrik Laine, Jakub Voracek, Gustav Nyquist, or fellow newcomer Kirill Marchenko. The pivot for his line could be any one of Boone Jenner, Cole Sillinger, or Jack Roslovic. Many Columbus fans have hoped to unite the young duo of Sillinger and Johnson, with the former being a highly skilled goal scorer and the latter a silky smooth playmaker. The Jackets could go all youth by adding Marchenko to the line and letting the horses run. If allowed to focus on putting the puck in the net on an all-offensive middle-six line, Johnson has as strong a case for the Calder as any.

6 | C/LW William Eklund | San Jose Sharks | 7th Overall, 2021

The Sharks gave Eklund a test run last year and despite their decision to send him back to the SHL, he looked quite good. He wasn’t the most pleased with the decision to go back to Djurgårdens, expressing that much in interviews after the fact, but he accepted it and took it as an opportunity to grow. The young Swede was confident on the puck and understood how to affect the game in all three zones at the NHL level. Eklund was a generator of offense and despite the underwhelming Sharks lineup, he managed four assists as an 18-year-old in nine games. A year older and more driven than ever, Eklund could very well come into the Sharks lineup and take the left wing spot on the top line with Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier or fit in nicely alongside Logan Couture on the second line. The opportunity for Eklund should be there if he comes into camp and earns with Luke Kunin being the only true top-six left winger on the roster.

7 | C Marco Rossi | Minnesota Wild | 9th Overall, 2020

After dealing with the effects of a bout COVID and the aftermath that had him questioning his hockey playing future at times, Marco Rossi made his North American pro debut by putting up 53 points in 63 games at the AHL level. Rossi is an undersized center but he plays bigger than he is and understands the nuances of the game at a level few players age 20 do. Rossi has an advanced two-way game that should allow him to play up and down the lineup. Rossi has the hands and the playmaking ability to play with skilled players in the top-six. If Rossi can get into a position where he is playing regular minutes with Matthew Boldy - or even Kirill Kaprizov more optimistically - he could put up some solid numbers and get into the Calder conversation. Even if Rossi doesn’t finish the year as a Calder finalist, he could have a well-rounded career long-term.

8 | RW Jack Quinn | Buffalo Sabres | 8th Overall, 2020

After tearing the AHL apart last season to a tune of 61 points in 45 games, Jack Quinn is poised to take a step and join a Sabres roster that infuses youth and skill as their rebuild takes form. He should be able to find success early on the powerplay as a shooting threat and he likely won’t have to start the season against the opposing team’s top defenders as he works his way into the NHL. Quinn is poised to be put in a position to succeed because the Sabres have been patient. He plays a fairly straightforward game and may need some help generating chances as he doesn’t always create his own shot effectively, he is a very good offensive producer and has been at every level he’s played at. While much of Buffalo's Calder attention will be on Power, if the anticipatory sniper can find the back of the net with some regularity, he could find himself vying for the annual rookie of the year award at season’s end.

9 | D Jake Sanderson | Ottawa Senators

The Senators' top prospect signed in March but was unable to get into any games with the big club as he recovered from a hand injury but he is expected to play a big role for a much-improved Senators squad. The only issue is that despite all of the improvements, the defensive group still very much remains a question mark and Sanderson is going to be expected to come in and play a major role for the Sens. While many hope that he can come in and replicate the season that last year’s Calder winner, Mortiz Seider, had for the Red Wings, it’s unlikely that he is able to reach those heights. A big reason is that he probably won’t see the top power-play unit with Thomas Chabot locking it down. Sanderson is a defensive-minded blueliner who excels in transition. His offensive game grew in a big way in college but how much offense he can provide in the pros is still a question. He may be one of the best rookies next season, but his base stats may hold him back from a Calder nod, unfortunately.

Alexander Holtz

10 | RW Alexander Holtz | New Jersey Devils | 7th Overall, 2020

One of the best shooters in all of the prospect world, Holtz could come into the league and pot 30 or more if he gets the opportunity to play in the top-six, especially if he is given an extended run alongside playmaker extraordinaire Jack Hughes. Holtz has developed his game outside of his shot at the AHL level and looks ready to take the next step. He showed that he can be a dual threat as a point-a-game player last year in the AHL, showing more playmaking and passing ability than anticipated. It’s the cannon of a shot that will be where Holtz makes his money over his career.

11 | C Shane Wright | Seattle Kraken | 4th Overall, 2022

The player who was deemed the first overall pick for the 2022 draft class right up until the pick was made and he fell to fourth overall, Shane Wright has a chip on his shoulder. He is expected to challenge for a role on the Seattle Kraken in training camp and could very well slide in as the team’s second line center right behind Beniers, giving the squad their top two centers for the next decade. Wright plays a mature game and helps accentuate the talents of his linemates. Should he be given players such as Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, or Kraken all-time points leader Jared McCann, the 2022 fourth overall pick could use the fuel of being passed over three times to build a solid rookie season right off the bat.

12 | RW Kirill Marchenko | Columbus Blue Jackets | 49th Overall, 2018

Marchenko is making the trek to North America and while there may be an adjustment period, his goal-scoring ability and offensive mind should translate pretty quickly. The young Russian has a quick release and pinpoint aim on his wrist shot, understanding where to go on the ice to get his shot off. Marchenko is undoubtedly more of a goal scorer than a playmaker but don’t sleep on his ability to find teammates in opportune positions in the offensive zone. With loads of young and emerging talent on the Blue Jackets in combination with the new signings and established talent in Columbus’ top-nine, Marchenko should fit right in and could pop off depending on the players he is given the opportunity to play with.

13 | C/LW Thomas Bordeleau | San Jose Sharks | 38th Overall, 2020

The former Michigan Wolverines star joined the Barracuda of the AHL after his college season and impressed so much that he signed his NHL deal and continued to impress. Bordeleau is one of the sneakiest dark horse candidates for the Calder Trophy. His playmaking ability translated to the pro game in a small sample last season at the NHL level with five assists in eight games. Should he get the opportunity to play with some of San Jose’s skilled forwards, he could sneak his way into the Calder conversation at season’s end.

14 | LW Juraj Slafkovsky | Montreal Canadiens | 1st Overall, 2022

The first overall pick from the draft this past summer, Juraj Slafkovsky has the size and mobility that should earn him a spot on the Canadiens. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he showed improvements and maturation as the year went on last year. He excelled at the Olympics and showed well at the World Championship, but that was against subpar competition, even if it was against men. Now he will get the chance to show that his ability to work off the wall with the puck and make a pass to set a teammate up in space or work to the middle and get a shot off himself will work in the best league in the world. 

15 | LW Nick Robertson | Toronto Maple Leafs | 53rd Overall, 2019

The Leafs have been waiting for Robertson’s arrival since he blew up in his draft-plus-one season by scoring 55 goals at the OHL level and debuting in the ‘bubble playoffs’ scoring his first NHL goal and looking good while doing it. His last two seasons have been marred with injuries and he hasn’t been able to fully get on track although he did look excellent to end the year last year at the AHL level with 20 points in his final 17 AHL games. With a seemingly vacant spot in the top-six alongside John Tavares and William Nylander, Robertson has the opportunity to shoot up near the top of this list if he can earn that role. There will be plenty of internal competition from several players on the Leafs’ roster, but Robertson has the most upside of any of them thanks to his lethal goal-scoring talent and high-motor style of play. Health may very well be the biggest factor.

16 | G Logan Thompson | Vegas Golden Knights | Undrafted

The Vegas goaltending situation is about as clear as mud. Robin Lehner is injured and is likely to miss the entire season. While the Knights have Laurent Brossoit and Adin Hill, it’s Thompson that has shown the most promise and could find himself with the bulk of the starts in net. After a solid 19-game stint last season where he put up a .914 save percentage, he could earn a Calder nomination if he can maintain those numbers or improve upon them and help return Vegas to the playoffs. The 25-year-old just gets in under the age requirements but as a goalie, he likely won’t face the faux backlash of older players nominated in recent years such as Micheal Bunting or Artemi Panarin.

17 | D Simon Edvinsson | Detroit Red Wings | 6th Overall, 2021

Is Edvinsson the second coming of the great and powerful Seider? That’s probably asking a bit much, especially considering that Edvinsson is a year behind where Seider was in his rookie season. Edvinsson is a bit more offensively inclined and his defensive game, although improved, isn’t as mature as Seider’s which could limit the overall impact and sheer amount of playing time that Edvinsson receives. An improved Detroit roster will also impact that. If Edvinsson can come in and show off his offensive prowess, puck-moving ability, and continued improvement defensively, he could very well get into the conversation higher up this list.

18 | RW Vitali Kravtsov | New York Rangers | 9th Overall, 2018

Is this finally the arrival of Kravtsov that we’ve all been waiting for? The much maligned and highly talented forward has had an up-and-down relationship with the New York Rangers over the last few years, but Kravtsov and the team seem to be on the same page coming into this season. The talent is there for the big forward and he has shown the ability to blend physicality and skill throughout his offensive game, using his size to get to the net and his quick hands to beat a goaltender. He could wind up a third or fourth liner as a rookie in a system that hasn’t always been the kindest to, getting NHL minutes but not enough to contribute offensively.

19 | LW/RW Lukas Reichel | Chicago | 17th Overall, 2020

Reichel is a high-energy, high-IQ player who should be with the NHL club this year. There is so much fluctuation with the Chicago lineup as they tear down in preparation for a new era. Reichel is a relentless player who takes excellent routes to the puck in all three zones, understands the details of the game that will make playing pro hockey easier than many other rookies, and has the opportunity to earn big minutes if he plays well in camp. If he can ride shotgun with Patrick Kane, Reichel could very well put up some big numbers.

20 | D Philip Broberg | Edmonton Oilers |

The Oilers expect Broberg to jump to the NHL full-time this season, and the 21-year-old seems poised to take a spot in their top-six blue liners. The biggest issue regarding Broberg’s Calder case is that he is unlikely to get the minutes or the power-play time defenders often need to put up the point totals that warrant rookie of the year talk. The skating and puck-moving ability are evident when Broberg is at his best but the Oilers are likely to ease him into playing his game to its full scope. He will have to earn the opportunities that could play to his strengths because Evan Bouchard, Tyson Barrie, and Darnell Nurse are all likely ahead of him for the time being. 

Other notables: Andrei Kuzmenko, LW (VAN), Shane Pinto, C (OTT), Scott Perunovich, D (STL), Aaty Raty, C (NYI).

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