By Steven McGoey
The 2021-22 NHL season has had no lack of talented rookie talent shining through. It's been a fun group.
With the majority of the league halfway through the season, here are the power rankings for the Calder Trophy as it stands:
1. Lucas Raymond - LW, Detroit Red Wings
The fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft is making quite the first impression during his first season in North America, leading all rookies in points with 34 in 43 games.
On a rebuilding Red Wings squad that has struggled for offense in recent years, Raymond has been a breath of fresh air helping Detroit’s offense when he is on the ice, as his line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi are responsible for a large portion of the scoring chances the team generates.
The Gothenburg, SWE native has displayed dynamic offensive ability and his exceptional playmaking skills have been one of the few redeeming qualities of Detroit’s lackluster power play.
The 19-year-old is leading all rookie forwards in time on ice averaging 17:54 a game. Detroit’s turnaround has Raymond as the Calder front runner.
2. Trevor Zegras - C, Anaheim Ducks
After 13 points in 24 games with Anaheim last season, the Zegras breakout party is in full effect halfway through 2021-22.
The Bedford, NY native currently has 32 points in 40 games, with a 2.5-points-per-60 record leading all rookies with at least 30 games played.
The 20-year-old’s dazzling skill and playmaking ability have been on display all season, and you can expect to see him on highlight reels for years to come. How about the cool lacrosse goal on Thursday?
With Detroit appearing to hit a wall and the Ducks currently in a playoff spot, Zegras could become the Calder favorite with a strong second half.
3. Moritz Seider - D, Detroit Red Wings
Seider has immediately emerged as an all-situations defender for the Red Wings, leading all Wings D in average power-play ice-time, while playing significant minutes on the penalty kill. He is leading all rookies in ice-time averaging a whopping 22:30 per game.
The Zell, DEU native’s underlying metrics have dipped recently as Detroit has come back down to earth, but some struggles are common for rookie defensemen.
The surprise sixth overall pick in 2019 has displayed more offensive touch than some believed he had this early in his career, as Seider currently ranks fourth in rookie scoring with 27 points in 43 game. Not bad for a defender.
Seider's rise has been rapid. The 20-year-old spent one season in the AHL after getting drafted before heading to Sweden and winning the top defenseman award in both the SHL and at the World Championship with Germany. His professional experience has been evident in his mostly seamless transition to the NHL.
Speaking of Detroit, an honorable mention to Alex Nedeljkovic, who finished third in rookie voting last season and is still Calder eligible.
4. Tanner Jeannot - LW, Nashville Predators
Jeannot is this year’s surprise rookie, for sure. After playing games in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL last season, the 24-year-old power forward did enough in his audition to crack the lineup this season and has made his presence felt.
Through 45 games, Jeannot leads all rookies in goals with 13 and is on pace for 49 points.
Known for his physical fitness, his former junior team, the Moose Jaw Warriors, gives their most physically fit player the Tanner Jeannot Strength and Conditioning Award. That conditioning has been huge this season, a big transition for the young forward.
The Oxbow, SASK, native’s game is tailor-made for the playoffs, and the Predators are on pace to be there.
5. Anton Lundell - C, Florida Panthers
The Panthers having success with a big, two-way Finnish center? Who could have seen this coming?
The Espoo, FIN native has fit in seamlessly with the Panthers in his first season in North America, evidenced by the fact that Florida has controlled possession, taken more shots, and scored more goals than they have allowed with Lundell on the ice at even strength.
The 20-year-old scored at a rate of 0.67 points per game in Finland’s Liiga across three seasons, and has remained consistent this year, scoring at the same rate through his first 40 NHL games.
The 12th overall pick in the 2020 draft has played up and down the Panthers lineup and has played both the powerplay and penalty kill.
The Panthers are currently in a battle for first place in the league, and Lundell’s emergence has been an important factor.