Calder Trophy Watch
The Calder Trophy is frequently one of the toughest awards to ‘pick a winner for’ pre-season.
Whilst the Vezina, Hart and Norris can almost always be whittled down to a likely few (Lundqvist, Crosby, Weber etc); the Calder trophy hinges largely on what opportunity a club will afford its rookie stars.
Based on the fact I thought he’d get plenty of opportunity to play in Florida, I plumped for Alexsander Barkov to win the Calder in my season predictions; but the young Panther is far from the only one in the frame.
Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche
The 1st overall pick at this summers draft, MacKinnon has made an impressive start with the Avs and seems to have effortlessly slotted in to the line up in Denver.
Despite an abundance of talent at center, Colorado have made room for the former Halifax junior and will give MacKinnon every opportunity to play.
Having Joe Sakic around and living with JS Giguere won’t exactly hurt his development either.
Seth Jones – Nashville Predators
Jones may have slipped down the order a little at the draft, but he is already averaging more than 22 minutes a night in Tennessee and looks set to partner Shea Weber on the Preds top pairing whilst Roman Josi is sidelined with a concussion.
An extended period along side one of the games elite defencemen, and perhaps some special teams time as well, will put Jones in good stead for the future.
Sean Monahan – Calgary Flames
Like Barkov, and previous winners Jonathan Huberdea and Gabriel Landeskog, the Brampton native is coming in to a bad team.
It means it can probably go one of two ways – the franchise opts to keep a top prospect out of the fire until the club improves (and keep his Entry Level Contract intact), or the youngster gets plenty of ice on a rebuilding team looking to develop its young talent in a low pressure environment.
Monahan already has 2 goals and 3 points in the Flames first three games, but is also a -3 and Head Coach Bob Hartley seems to acknowledge the 6th overall pick from the 2013 draft has things to learn:
“There’s lots of junior stuff still in his game,” Hartley admitted. “But if we’re going to keep him and not play him, we might as well send him down. I was aware he wasn’t having a very good game from one end to the other, but it was not by a lack of trying, it was probably by a lack of experience.”
Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks
Like Monahan, Czech forward Hertl has 2 goals and 3 points to his name already this season.
Taken 17th overall by the Sharks in 2012, the 6’2″ has made an impressive start to his NHL career, despite noticing the quicker pace in the NHL. Comparisons to Jaromir Jagr have started already in his native Czech Republic and, despite the small sample size, Hertl looks comfortable in the NHL already.
Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
Acquired from Washington last season, Swedish winger Forsberg is considered to be one of the games most exciting prospects.
A lower body injury has kept him sidelined through the Preds first few regular season games, but Forsberg had a goal and 2 points through three strong pre-season outings on a line with David Legwand and Gabriel Bourque.
He looks set to return this week, and will doubtless get ample opportunities on a Nashville side that would benefit from some offensive spark.
Boone Jenner – Columbus Blue Jackets
Another youngster adjusting to the speed of the NHL, Jenner is held in very high regard in Ohio.
Whilst he may have been bumped down the depth chart a little, after starting on the top line, the Ontario native could be an outside bet for the Calder this year.