This year’s rookie class is unquestionably a strong one and those fantasy owners who did their homework - or were quick on the waiver wire - are enjoying production from deep in their lineups.
Last season, just eight rookie skaters topped 30 points, while five freshman goaltenders topped 10 wins. This campaign could see as many as 15 or 20 skaters clear that threshold and four goaltenders will almost certainly hit 10 wins (two already have). Here are my 10 current favorites for the Calder Trophy, followed by how I see the list shaping up in April.
Current Calder Trophy Favorites
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Philadelphia
2. Jeff Skinner, LW, Carolina
3. Jordan Eberle, RW, Edmonton
4. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Colorado
5. John Carlson, D, Washington
6. Derek Stepan, C, N.Y. Rangers
7. Taylor Hall, LW, Edmonton
8. Michal Neuvirth, G, Washington
9. Tyler Ennis, LW, Buffalo
10. Logan Couture, C, San Jose
Predicted Calder Trophy Finish
1. Eberle – The Oilers stumbled through a 16-game stretch where they picked up a mere two wins and the production of all players dipped. Edmonton may be a lottery-pick team, but it is not as bad as it showed throughout November. Eberle is on pace for 57 points, but I think he’ll end up with close to 70. That will secure the Calder. Buy Low
2. Shattenkirk – He won’t continue at this torrid pace. After all, he has at least one point in each of his past nine games – how can a defenseman keep that up? All the same, the 21-year-old who didn’t even make the Avs roster initially will get just more than 35 points in the last 56 games, which is good for 50 points overall. Hold
3. Corey Crawford, G, Chicago – See Howard, Jimmy (2009-10) for what I think will happen with this guy, who’s notched six consecutive wins for the defending Stanley Cup champions – that beats Marty Turco’s three straight losses. The lion’s share of starts are gradually shifting towards this kid. He’s a steal. Buy Low
4. Bobrovsky – The 22-year-old undrafted Russian is still a stud, but with Michael Leighton returning soon, some starts will be lost. The three-headed monster in Philadelphia could actually prevent ‘Bob’ from reaching 30 wins, a number he would easily surpass were it not for Leighton. Sell High
5. Hall – Much like Eberle, Hall is turning his game around - he has eight points in his past nine games. If it wasn’t for his poor showing in his first 17 contests (three goals, seven points and minus-8), he would be second on this list. Buy Low
6. Stepan – He could be the most underrated rookie, but I think he is the freshman with the most hockey sense. The Rangers are playing him more than 15 minutes per game and he has 11 points in his past 13 games. I think his production will increase as the season goes on. Buy Low
7. Skinner – Possibly the steal of the 2010 draft and a pure goal-scorer. But his torrid start has slowed (five points in his past 11 games) and, although 50 points is nothing to sneeze at, it probably bumps him down to seventh in Calder voting. Sell High
8. Carlson – How can a rookie defenseman on pace for just less than 40 points and a plus-23 rating rank eighth in Calder voting? Well, that’s how I see Carlson finishing up and that’s how I see the votes going. Nothing paints a picture of this deep rookie class better than that. Hold
9. Burmistrov – The talented pivot is your typical Russian dangler and every bit as exciting to watch. It took him nine games to notch his first NHL point, but he now has 11 in his past 19 and should get close to 45. Buy Low
10. Ennis – The diminutive left winger is not finding the NHL as easy as he found it last April. He’ll be a star in this league eventually, but it’ll just take longer than we originally thought. His 43-point pace is probably about where he’ll finish. Hold
Just off the list
Neuvirth – Semyon Varlamov is the starter in Washington now. This will change back and forth several more times, but the net result will be Neuvirth not getting as many starts as he needs to contend. Sell High
Mathieu Perreault, Washington – Trading Tomas Fleischmann cleared the way for this talented pivot. If he can stick in the NHL, he’ll do so by producing more than you think. Buy Low
P.K. Subban, Montreal – He may be getting scratched right now, but he’ll come back with a chip on his shoulder. It says here he still gets 40 points, maybe even 45. Buy Low
Couture – Lacks the consistency at this stage in his career, but when he’s hot, he’s sizzling. If you are good at playing the bench/activate game, he’ll be a fun one to own. Hold
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