It is never too early to start speculating about who is going to win awards in the NHL and it is always fun to talk about rookies. Who is going to take home this year’s Calder Trophy for rookie of the year in the NHL? Here are my early season contenders.
Filip Forsberg-Nashville Predators
The clear frontrunner this season has been Filip Forsberg. The young 20-year-old, leads all rookies in goals with 8, assist with 12, and points with 20. Not to mention he leads the entire NHL in plus/minus with a +19 rating. He has been a force on the ice for Nashville. Drafted 9th overall by Washington, many are wondering what the Capitals were thinking when they traded away their young prospect, Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat. You tell me who you think ended up getting the better deal in that one? I could just imagine how good Ovi could be with the playmaker Forsberg on his line. But back to Nashville, where he is now, the young guns have this team rolling. Second in the Central Division this team looks like a for sure playoff team and Forsberg’s play has a lot to do with it.
Aaron Ekblad-Florida Panthers
Aaron Ekblad is proving that he was worth the number 1 overall pick in the draft last April. He is leading all rookie defensemen in points with 10 (2G 8A). He is on a Florida Panthers team that is second in the Eastern Conference in goals allowed. His performance and play keeps improving as he continues to increase his playing time. He now has a spot on the Panthers first line power play, which could make his point total increase even more. This 18 year old from Windsor, Ontario seems to be enjoying the warm weather down in Florida as he has his team fighting for a playoff spot in the East.
Johnny Gaudreau-Calgary Flames
The former Boston College Eagle is flying high in the NHL. He is not letting his 5’8”, 170 pound frame stop him from making any play in the NHL. The 21 year old from New Jersey has 12 points (3G 9A) in 18 games this season. He has 2 game winning goals for the Flames, who are fighting for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. He is tied for second in points among rookies only behind Forsberg (who I already mentioned is having a remarkable year). Johnny Hockey, as they use to call him back at BC, has been a force to be wrecking with on the power play. 4 of his 12 points have came on the PP. His power play time keeps increasing because of the way he can fly into the zone with his speed and gain the blue line so easily. If the Flames keep winning and Gaudreau keeps performing, the Calder Trophy could be right in Johnny’s fingertips for the taking.
Tanner Pearson-Los Angeles Kings
Tanner Pearson got off to an unbelievable start, scoring 7 goals in his first 8 games this season but he hasn’t scored since. Pearson has only 10 points (7G 3A) but has a huge role with the LA Kings. He plays on “That’s 70’s Line,” the only line that seems to be producing for the Kings and he has found a spot on their second power play unit. Although Pearson seems to be slumping now, I see him having a big year for the Kings. He has a knack for going to the net and scoring goals. Being on a team like the Kings that has so much talent around him, Pearson has the chance to put up the numbers it takes to win the Calder Trophy.
Dark Horse: Josh Jooris-Calgary Flames
The former Union College Dutchmen, Josh Jooris, has solidified himself as an everyday NHL player. Now centering the third line for the Calgary Flames, Jooris has 7 points (4G 3A) in just 12 games this season. Jooris was a surprise for the Flames out of training camp and has really came on strong this year. The boy from Burlington, Ontario is a long shot to win the Calder Trophy but could surprise a lot of people with his play. He turned heads we he came up to the big club in Oct. scoring a goal in his first NHL game, why not keep it going and surprise everyone by winning the rookie of the year? It would be a great story for a hard working kid like him.
Rookies are so much fun to talk about because they bring excitement to the NHL that wasn’t there last season. They are young kids trying to make a name for themselves and it starts year one by putting their name on the Calder Trophy, amongst so many other NHL stars. Nathan MacKinnon did it last year. Who is going to step up next?