The race for the Calder Trophy is nearly complete and the only real question is who will nab the third nomination? Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture appear to be locks, but some interesting names creep up after. Michael Grabner of the Isles, or a goaltender such as Sergei Bobrovsky or even James Reimer? The stretch drive will be a great factor.
Preds fans have been waiting for Geoffrion’s arrival for years now – after all, he is a fourth-generation NHLer and one raised within the confines of Tennessee – so for him to break out the way he has must warm their hearts. Geoffrion has seven points in 12 games since getting the call in late February, but his most amazing feat was a recent hat trick against Buffalo; the rookie scored twice in the final three minutes to send the game to overtime, with the Preds winning in the extra frame.
With every game important for the playoff-clinging Sabres, Ennis has stepped up his performance. The diminutive winger has four points in his past five and nine points in his past 10 games. He also has just four PIM in the past month; each coming in a blowout win over Atlanta.
Faceoffs are still a soft spot for the Swedish pivot, but Johansson has given the Caps excellent depth scoring lately, in a season where the team hasn’t been its usual firecracker self. Johansson has two multi-point games in his past five and a plus-6 rating during the same span.
Montoya has faced at least 35 shots in each of his past four outings and helped earn the Isles at least a point in all but one. In a season where the crease may as well have had a revolving door installed in front of it, Montoya has been solid for the Long Island crew and boasts an overall goals-against average of 2.37.
The Flames are flagging, but Backlund hasn’t wilted despite the added pressure of having so many fellow pivots go down to injury around him. The Calgary rookie has been a demon in the faceoff circle lately, registering win rates above 54 percent in the past four games, twice getting up over 63 percent.
It’s rare for a blueliner to get a hat trick, even more so when that defender is Calder-eligible. But that’s what the hard-charging Subban did against Minnesota on the weekend, adding an assist for a four-point night. While his PIM are high (104), Subban hasn’t played less than 21 minutes for the Habs in his past six games.
With injuries aplenty and nothing but the draft lottery to determine, the Oilers have called up even more kids and Hartikainen got his name on the scoresheet in his debut. Solidly built and not afraid to throw his weight around, the young Finn nabbed an assist against Phoenix in his first game. Chris Vande Velde also made his NHL debut with the Oilers that night.
He’s not counted on for offense, but the 6-foot-4, 197-pound blueliner has been solid for the B’s this season and has one of the best plus-minus ratings in the NHL to show for it. At plus-27, McQuaid leads all rookies and his 118 blocked shots rank second only to Washington’s John Carlson.
With David Bolland on the shelf already and Patrick Sharp joining him, the Hawks were in dire straits down the middle. Enter Kruger, who tore up the Swedish Elite League last season and had similar success this year. Chicago likens him to a Bolland-type over here, but with the playoffs no guarantee, they’ll take whatever kind of help Kruger can provide.
It’s been a lost season for the Senators, but that means ice time for the kids and Condra has made the most of his opportunity. If anything, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish alum can lay claim to the fact his two goals in a 2-1 win March 8 helped bust the New Jersey Devils’ amazing run in the second half of the season.
The Rookie Report covers the top performances from first year NHLers. From Calder candidates to brief call-ups, we’ll bundle all the best together every other week only on thehockeynews.com
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.