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Early Calder Trophy favourites

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0987776001416281854.jpgThe NHL is season is just under a quarter of the way through and already many first year players have taken on important roles with their respected NHL clubs.

With that being said let’s take a look at some players who could be Calder Trophy Nominees come season’s end.

Filip Forsberg, C - Nashville Predators- Drafted 11th overall in 2012 by Washington

The 20 year-old Forsberg is off to a scorching start and if he keeps the pace he is on, he will without question, walk away with the Calder Trophy. Forsberg is currently tied for eighth in the league in scoring with 20 points in 17 games with the Preds. The native of Ostervala, Sweden is also leading the league in plus-minus with a +19 rating.

After suiting up for five games following his trade to Nashville at the 2013 trade deadline, Forsberg played in 13 games last season before being sent down to the Milwaukee Admirals for. There he put up 34 points in 47 games as a 19-year-old rookie. It now seems like patience has certainly been a virtue for Forsberg.

The Predators as of Monday find themselves tied for third place in the Western Conference and Forsberg is a big reason for that. The 6-foot-one, 186 pound, centre leads the Predators in all offensive categories and is on pace for 95 points. One can only assume the Washington Capitals wish they were as patient with Forsberg as Nashville has been.

Aaron Ekblad, D – Florida Panthers- Drafted First overall in 2014 by Florida

In just his first year with Florida, last season’s first overall pick in the draft, is already becoming the go-to-guy on the Panther’s blueline. Leading all rookie defensemen with 10 points and just a point behind Jussie Jokinen on the Panthers for tops in scoring, Ekblad is already showing he was the right pick at number one.

Ekblad entered the OHL in 2011-12 with the Barrie Colts as a 15-year-old after being granted “exceptional player” status. Last season he was named the OHL’s defenseman of the year after recording 23 goals and 53 points in 58 games.

The 18-year-old Ekblad has helped the Panthers get off to an impressive start to the 2014-15 season, posting a record of 6-4-5, for second last in the Atlantic Division. And though that may not sound good, the Panthers have played just 15 games, four fewer than some teams in their division and after defeating the Anaheim Ducks candidly 6-2 Sunday, there seems to be no reason why they can’t climb up the standings.

The Windsor, On native is fourth on the Panthers in ice time averaging just under 22 minutes a game. Ekblad is eligible to suit up for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships this December, but it seems very unlikely that Florida will want to part with 6-foot-4 blueliner.

Tanner Pearson, LW – Los Angeles Kings- Drafted 30th overall in 2012 by Los Angeles

After becoming a real valuable part of the King’s second Stanley Cup run in three years in 2013-14, Pearson has returned with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli to form the ‘That 70s Line’ and the line has been the Kings’ saving grace so far this season.

The trio has combined for 43 points through 18 games, carrying the offensive load for the Kings. Pearson has seven goals on the season, good enough for second amongst rookies, to go along with three helpers and an impressive +11 rating.

Ten points through 18 games may not seem that astonishing, but that is because Pearson has cooled off some since his hot start to the season. However, that is less to do with just Pearson, but the entire Kings team.

L.A. is 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, while Pearson has just one assist in his last five games. There’s no need to worry just yet, the Kings have had a knack for slow starts to the season in recent years and have always managed to rally when it really matters. So, with a full roster firing on all cylinders you can expect Pearson’s production to pick up.

Pearson put up 12 points in 24 games in last year’s post season and is quickly becoming an important part of the Kings’ offense and if him and the rest of his teammates can return to their Cup-winning form, his numbers could put him in consideration for rookie of the year.

Honourable Mentions:

Here a few other names that could also be in the running come seasons end:

Johnny Gauderau, LW, CGY, (3-9-12)

Andre Burakovsky, LW, WSH, (3-9-12)

Jonathan Drouin, LW, TB, (1-7-8)

It is still very early and things can always and almost always do change (last year my early prediction for rookie of the year was Tomas Hertl), but these are the players who are wasting no time this season proving they will one day be stars in this league.

Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman

Photo Credit: Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images


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