When the NHL hands out its hardware in June it will have been seven seasons since Barret Jackman won the Calder Trophy. Never known as an offensive dynamo, Jackman racked up 190 PIM and a plus-23 rating in a shutdown role for St. Louis, the latter stat being tops on the team.
Three forwards, one defenseman and two goalies have won the award since and one guy from each position is in the running again. But if things continue trending the way they are, the Calder will again be in a defender’s hands.
This is THN.com’s Top 10 Calder candidates:
The 20-year-old from Natick, Mass., is proving to be more than advertised. He’s slowed of late along with the rest of the Caps, but leads Washington’s defense corps with four goals, 17 points and a plus-10 rating.
The most anticipated NHL arrival since, well, John Tavares, began slowly but has picked up his pace lately with nine points in 11 games. The 19-year-old is No. 2 in rookie goal scoring and fourth in points, with 10-10-20 totals.
Marty Turco was meant to be the man, but it’s Crawford who’s been stealing the starts recently in Chicago. At 10-6-1, with a 2.39 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, he’s no worse than 22nd in any of the major stats categories. The 25-year-old has been patient for a long time as a five-year American League starter.
Fowler, 19, is being called Anaheim’s best all-around blueliner by some observers. No rookie plays more than his 22:13 per game and his 3-15-18 stat line puts him second in points among rookie blueliners.
The biggest surprise on the list is just 18 years old and is second in rookie points with 24. Skinner was drafted seventh overall last summer by Carolina and trails only Eric Staal in goals and scoring on the Canes.
The most polished of Edmonton’s three hyped rookies (Magnus Paajarvi being the other) is playing in every situation for the Oilers and is third in freshman scoring with nine goals and 22 points. No rookie forward averages more ice time than the 20-year-old’s 18:24.
OK, maybe Skinner isn’t the biggest surprise on the list. Lindback, 22, has been the Predators’ MVP, keeping the low-scoring squad afloat in the tough Western Conference. His 2.27 GAA, .925 SP and two shutouts are all tops amongst rookies.
Uh, speaking of surprises, how about a guy who played in the Kontinental League last season and was never drafted? Some may argue last season’s playoffs showed anyone can play goal for Philly and be successful. But the simple fact is the 22-year-old has done the job and is tied for fourth overall in the NHL with 15 victories. Looks like the league is catching up to him, but so far everything has been good.
Good thing he played just 25 games with the Sharks last season; one more and he wouldn’t be Calder eligible. But Couture is and his 18 goals (easily first among rookies), 25 points (first) and plus-9 rating (second) put the 21-year-old on pace to be a favorite to take home the hardware come June.
Another surprise because it’s surprising he’s even in the NHL. The 21-year-old was supposed to spend the year with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, learning the pro game after three seasons with Boston University, but a Colorado blueline decimated by injuries left the Avs no choice. Good thing. If the season ended now you’d have to make Shattenkirk the Calder favorite; his 5-14-19 totals are tied for fifth among rookies and he’s only played 23 games. And don’t forget he’s a defenseman. Pretty heady stuff.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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