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Early Rookie of the Year Candidates

It's a Canadian Game


5 members have voted

  1. 1. Your Early choice for Calder Trophy?

    • Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) RW
    • Damien Brunner (Detroit Red Wings) C
    • Corey Conachor (Tampa Bay Lightning) C
    • Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers) RW
    • Justin Schultz (Edmonton Oilers) D
    • Other - discuss below

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*I wanted to blog this, but it wouldn't post, but still wanted to get it out there... let me know what you think*

Even though we are only about a month into the NHL season we have already seen many rookie players make huge strides and contributions to their NHL teams. With these hot starts, many young names are already receiving some consideration for rookie of the year honours. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at a few of the players likely to receive Calder Cup consideration come seasons end.

Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) RW

Tarasenko has probably been the biggest surprise among this year’s rookie class as he has come out of the gate flying. Tarasenko opened the season with an impressive 10 points in his first 8 games. Now although Tarasenko has since cooled down, recording just 1 point in his last 5 games, he has been a solid force for the Blues.

Tarasenko is a -2; however this stat doesn’t seem too bad, especially when you consider that only four players on the Blues roster have a plus rating. The speedy Russian has also given a boost to the Blues’ powerplay, chipping in for two goals this season. Tarasenko has tremendous offensive upside and if the Blues hope to return to the post season they might need to rely on this young forward’s soft hands.

Damien Brunner (Detroit Red Wings) C

Brunner has been another big surprise for the Red Wings. The Swiss native, like many great Red wings before him, seems to be the result of great scouting. Brunner was signed as a free agent on July 1st last summer and 13 games into this season Brunner has already put up 6 goals and 9 points.

On January 21st he showed the hockey world his true skill when he scored the shootout winner against the Columbus Blue Jackets on a move that was very reminiscent of fellow Red Wing teammate Pavel Datsyuk. Brunner is obviously fitting in in Detroit and playing amongst veterans like Datsyuk and Zetterberg can only help this 26 year old rookie strive this season and onward.

Brunner’s shootout goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Corey Conachor (Tampa Bay Lightning) C

Conacchor is a kid who seems to have come out of nowhere. Conachor made a splash last season as a rookie with the Norfolk Admirals, leading the league in scoring, being named AHL MVP, and rookie of the year honours. It now seems like Conachor hasn’t slowed down from this pace.

Conachor has 12 points in his first 13 games and leads the Lightning with two game winning goals. Conachor, like Brunner, was signed by the Lightning as a free agent and has provided some great secondary scoring, giving some relief to stars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.

Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers) RW

Yakupov has already started his season with some controversy. Many players and media alike were upset about his goal celebration against the L.A. Kings earlier this season after he scored a beauty goal knocking the puck out of mid-air to tie the game with under four seconds to play. Whether you’re a fan or not though, there is no debating that Yakupov is a highly skilled forward and he is proving it.

Yakupov has amassed 5 goals and 8 points in his first 13 games and has not looked out of place playing on a very young Edmonton team. Despite having a team worst -7 plus/minus rating, Yakupov has been a stellar force on Edmonton’s powerplay, amassing 3 goals with the man advantage. Yakupov also leads the team with a 22% shooting percentage, meaning when he gets the chance Yakupov can bury the puck. Yakupov, along with the rest of the Oiler squad will continue to mature and grow accustom to the NHL and as they do Edmonton may be on the verge of a dynasty they haven’t seen since the Gretzky- Messier years.

Justin Schultz (Edmonton Oilers) D

At the end of last season Justin Schultz was part of a giant bidding war with almost every team hoping to acquire the talented defenseman’s services. After much negotiation Schultz signed with the Edmonton Oilers, many were surprised he would agree to sign with such a young team. However, Schultz tore up the AHL this season and has not looked out of place on the Oilers back end.

Schultz has helped to quarterback the Edmonton powerplay and so far has amassed 8 points in 11 games including a team best, 4 powerplay goals. Schultz has also averaged over 23 minutes of ice-time which also leads all Oiler skaters. Schultz in his first professional season has already become a staple on Edmonton’s backend and looks to be an important piece in Edmonton’s push to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

There is no question that these five players will likely go on to have very successful NHL careers and although the season is still very young, these five incredible talents are already turning heads. So, don’t be surprised if come June these names are given some serious Calder Trophy consideration.

Who do you think will win rookie of the year? Someone listed above or is someone else making a splash?

Some of this year’s rookies’ first goals

Edited by hf101
added poll
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Nice blog as usual. I'm really impressed with Schultz as not many D-men are voted the Calder trophy winner. I'm disappointed in Mikael Granlund. I thought his contribution to the Wild would be much greater.

ACG....would you like this topic to have a poll?

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I'm leaning towards Brunner right now. He is playing with 2 superstars, has played all year with Zetterberg counting their time in the Swedish Elite legue, so there is some real chemistry starting to build.

Tarasenko is totally exciting, he looks like he could have the best career.....if it were not for Braden Holtby. He's my darkhorse. He's been coming around lately and even today, he lost 2-1 to Lundy and the NYR, but made 38 saves. I believe his numbers will get stronger and stronger as the year progresses. I also expect Granlund to start scoring more, but don't think he will beat Brunner's totals. I think Schultz and Hamilton are fine young d-men, but if Brunner remains a fixture on the Wings top line and pp unit, I give him the edge. I see a 3 man race, Brunner, Holtby and Tarasenko. Don't know much about Fasth, but with a record like that I better start paying attention!

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I was wondering about Holtby's elegibitity when I was typing that post, so I looked it up, here is what I found from the Wiki Calder section...

"To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league.[1] The latter fact was perhaps most prominent when in 1979–80, first-year phenom Wayne Gretzky was not eligible to win the Calder Trophy despite scoring 137 points (the previous rookie record at the time being 95), because he had played a full season the previous year in the World Hockey Association.[4] In 1991, goaltender Ed Belfour won the Calder having previously appeared in 32 games with the Chicago Blackhawks over the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons.[5] Belfour was eligible for the award because 9 of those appearances came during the 1990 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the other 23 appearances were made during the 1988-89 season. The 9 playoff games and 33 games played with the Canada men's national ice hockey team did not count towards the regular season eligibility requirements."

So, it appears that the time Holtby spent in the AHL worked against his elegibility for this season, thus disqualifing him for the Calder, if I'm reading things right...even though his playoff work did not count against him. That's why Ken Dryden won the rookie of the year in 71-72 *after* winning the cup the previous year, a year in which he debuted in the playoffs.


Edited by jammer2
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