So with it being Christmas, and the halfway point in the hockey season fast approaching, I figured I’d draw up a shortlist of who I’m looking at for this year’s Calder Trophy, given to the best rookie of the season.
Yeah, yeah, call me a homer for putting him first on the list, but when you post 11-6-1 on your transition season, with above-league average of .916 save percentage, it’s hard to rule him out of contention for it. Seven of those wins were in a row too, so he’s definitely had some early season form on his side, while being aided by Marty Turco.
Lindback’s exploded onto the scene on his debut season, covering Pekka Rinne for 9-3-2 in 14 starts, with 2 shutouts posted. Largely helped by an improved Predators side that’s sitting 3rd in a fiercely competitive Central Division, he certainly seems like he could push for a starting position. Coupled with his ongoing battle with Adult-onset Still’s Disease, for which he needs daily injections just to stave off rheumatoid arthritis, it’s been an uphill battle for the Swede to get this far, let alone succeed.
Bob, as he’s simply known in the Flyers locker room, has been somewhat of a revelation for Philadelphia since coming into the league. With 15-5-3, and only one point off the Flyers at the top of the Atlantic, Bob was plucked from Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL after his contract ended and fast-tracked his way to the Flyers starting lineup, denying Leighton and Boucher of the role. And the way he’s playing this year so far, you’d be hard-pressed to look elsewhere when picking out a breakout rookie.
PK Subban’s fast becoming (to put it colloquially) a bit of a Marmite player – you either love him, or you hate him. There’s no gray area with PK – Pernell Karl, though he says it stands for “Penalty Kill” – who’s attracting a lot of heat from just about everywhere in the world of hockey. Whether it’s his swagger, his tough checking or his offensive capabilities, the Habs love to have him and the others hate it when he’s on the ice against them. He’s currently sitting on 11 points and sitting on 40 penalty minutes for the season.
John Carlson’s done well for himself on what’s recently been a sub-par Capitals side. +9 and 17 points in 37 games, and it’s easy to see why you’d put him in contention. He’s been a revelation in terms of being an offensive defenseman, currently leading the Caps’ in point totals for the season, and on pace for almost 40 points.
With 24 points this season for the Carolina Hurricanes, Jeff Skinner’s another hot contender. Picked 7th overall in last year’s Entry Draft, the young right winger’s certainly showed that he doesn’t need much in the way of self-development, although another year or two could probably help his physical game out.