It’s that time of the year when the race for the Calder Trophy gets hot. Now a third of the way into the season, the rookies have had the chance to settle into their roles. Some of these rookies have gotten on a roll while some early season favorites struggled big time. It was discussed earlier in the season the early front runners after the start of the season. These have changed drastically as this crazy season has progressed. This season has seen some rather interesting things play out. Detroit has three competitive rookies helping them make a decent playoff push. Cole Caufield getting sent down but then recalled back to the big squad. However now, their are some new front runners.
Lucas Raymond, Detroit (Forward)
Lucas has jumped up to the top line of this historic team and is making his presence felt in the league. Currently the leader in points and goals for all rookies. He plays on a line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin. Together they have produced 37 goals for the Red Wings, with Lucas having 10 of those. His play for the team has been consistent all year long. Averaging just over 17 minutes on the ice a game, he has produced just shy of a point a game for his team. If his play remains this consistent, he is a serious contender for the Calder.
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim (Forward)
Trevor was an early contender this season for the Calder. Currently sitting just behind Raymond in both goals and points for rookies, he has been a great asset to the surging Ducks. His 8 goals also have him in second on his team. He and his typical linemates of Sonny Milano and Rickard Rakell have picked up 24 goals for the Ducks. As the season has progressed he has developed into a confident player. His production compared to the end of last season has been relatively outstanding. As he continues to play and gain confidence, he could go on a serious roll and put up some solid numbers down the stretch. Don’t rule him out from earning this outstanding award.
Moritz Seider, Detroit (Defensemen)
Moritz has stepped up big time on the blue line for Detroit. The second of the three freshmen for Detroit who could make a run at the Calder. Though it’s uncommon for defensemen to generate a lot of points, Moritz is the third-highest rookie point-getter. His biggest impact is playing over 22 minutes of ice time. A big player on the penalty kill but at the same time vital to the power play and even play. He has the ability to generate from nothing when he shuts down opponents and creates breakouts with his vision on the ice. Though he may not gain enough points to really draw enough attention to him, voters should consider him as he has been a major asset added to the Red Wings.
Michael Bunting, Toronto (Forward)
Michael has emerged as a solid forward for Toronto after spending the previous two seasons playing a handful of games for the Arizona Coyotes. As the 27th pick in the 4th round of the 2014 draft, he wasn’t expected to be a major impact type player initially. Seven years later and he is making a name for himself with the Maple Leafs. Just a couple points behind Moritz, he sits in a great spot to really make a charge in points. He benefits from getting ice time with Auston Matthews, and William Nylander. On top of that the Maple Leafs are having a fantastic season and are really clicking. His chances and opportunities should grow, he’s only averaged 14:45 time on ice so far this year which is rather low relatively. Keep an eye out for him as the team could really help him develop into a solid player.
A goalie should never be ruled out either, though it’s uncommon for a rookie goalie to win it. Spencer Knight for the Florida Panthers continues to show that he is a well developed netminder for his age. The only problem for him is the play of Sergei Bobrovsky who continues to collect the majority of starts. Another goalie who is really producing solid numbers is Alex Nedeljkovic for the Detroit Red Wings. As the third rookie on the squad making a run for the Calder, he has gained the advantage in games played and will more than likely lead in wins at the end of the season. The third goalie I could see getting some votes is Jeremy Swayman for the Boston Bruins. His 7 wins in 14 games and a 2.29 GAA before the Holiday break are solid for a rookie.
If the season were to end now (which I hope isn’t the case), I’d have to vote for Lucas Raymond for the Calder. His production and ability have been impressive. As a team, Detroit has gained some ground and their rookies are to thank. Raymond continues to prove each game that he isn’t a fluke. There’s a good reason he made the roster and has been placed on the top line. As long as he stays consistent and free from any injuries I think he has the chance to start to run away from the other rookies in the stats department. I wish the best for all of them and love to see the youth jumping into the league and playing so well quickly.
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