It’s been customary in the past few seasons to see the Calder Trophy go to a player who wasn’t necessarily expected to challenge for the award when the year began. Steve Mason and Tyler Myers both fit that mold and the trend of hot under-the-radar rookies has continued early in 2010-11. But no matter how much name recognition these young men came in with, they’re quickly making themselves known.
When Preds starter Pekka Rinne was ailing, Lindback jumped right into the fire, staring down and defeating the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in his first NHL start. The 6-foot-6, 212-pound netminder has yet to lose in regulation and boasts a solid stat line with a .921 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average.
Your current rookie scoring leader is a surprising one. Letestu has played everywhere from Alberta Jr. A to the ECHL. But this season he’s off to a fantastic start, tallying seven points in seven games, even better than superstar teammate Evgeni Malkin. Letestu is getting points on the power play and he already has two game-winning goals.
Bickell has played parts of four seasons with the Hawks, but has yet to exhaust his Calder eligibility. On a Chicago team that lost a lot of secondary scoring in the off-season, the big left winger has stepped up to the plate. He has four points through seven games, putting him in a three-way tie for third in rookie scoring with Derek Stepan and Tyler Ennis.
With their salary cap woes, the Devils have needed a hero and while Taormina isn’t expected to be a savior, he’s at least pulling his weight. The 24-year-old is logging nearly 21 minutes of ice time per contest and has chipped in three points in six games.
‘El Nino’ nabbed his first NHL goal in a loss to the Washington Capitals, assisted by Doug Weight, who recorded his first NHL point a year before Niederreiter was born. The Swiss winger has tremendous reach and uses his size to play a physically rugged game that is tailored for NHL success.
Neuvirth filled in admirably for a banged-up Semyon Varlamov, garnering four wins in six starts to lead all rookie netminders in the category. Neuvirth has posted an identical save percentage to Lindback at .921, plus a 2.45 GAA. Neuvirth’s short-term success also gives the Caps much-needed security in net, given the lack of a veteran presence with Jose Theodore gone.
The second of Edmonton’s rookie trifecta to pot his first NHL goal, Paajarvi followed Jordan Eberle and beat Taylor Hall to the back of the net. Paajarvi’s smooth skating and deft playmaking abilities are beginning to pay dividends and the Swedish national has two points through four games.
Despite their Cup-challenging roster, the Bruins have also employed a good deal of youth early this season and Caron, a power forward in the making, grabbed his first NHL goal in a win over New Jersey. A plus-2 through three games, Caron’s ice time has gone up each game since his first.
The free agent signing from the Soo Greyhounds beat out highly touted Thomas Hickey for a spot on L.A.’s blueline and has posted one assist and an even rating in his first four games.
The former Princeton Tiger saw his first NHL action Tuesday night as San Jose’s seventh defenseman in a loss to Carolina. Moore registered 7:35 of ice time and was minus-1 on the night.
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
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