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Calder Trophy Favorites - Season 6 Written by habsfan93 - October 21st, 2009

Prior to the start of Season 5, I predicted that Ryan Getzlaf had the best odds at winning the Calder Trophy. In the end, he had a slow start to the year, and although he posted a terrific second half and finished the year with 54 assists and 77 points, he found himself short of a nomination. The eventual winner was Nicklas Backstrom, who I had ranked at #3 on my preseason list. #7 RJ Umberger and honourable mention Daniel Girardi were the other two nominees. Most of the other players on my list were right behind the pack though - the only player I really missed on was Carey Price at #6. I had thought Price would be the starter in Buffalo. As it stands, he is still the backup and is struggling to establish himself in the CMHL.


So who is this year's rookie crop? Who will take home Calder Trophy glory at the end of the season? This year's top 10 list features 2 goalies, one defenseman, and 7 forwards representing 8 teams. Read on to find out who made the list!

Honourable Mentions - Not quite Top 10 at this point, but could be candidates if they are managed well by their GM's:

Steven Stamkos (STL), Claude Giroux (LA), Brandon Dubinsky (LA), Mikhail Grabovski (SJ), Blake Wheeler (SJ), Milan Lucic (NJ), Drew Doughty (EDM), Luke Schenn (PHX), Marc Staal (BUF), Jaroslav Halak (PHI)

#10 - Fabian Brunnstrom (PIT)

Once touted as the best player not in the NHL, the Penguins won the sweepstakes and prior to Season 5, Fabian was signed to a very big 4 year contract with out ever having played a game of North American hockey. He responded by leading Manchester, the Pens ICHF squad, to a 1st place finish in the ICHF East. He also led that team in both goals and points. This year, he will get prime playing time on one of the Pens top 2 offensive lines, and he should fairly easily hit the 30 goal mark.

 

TJ Oshie#9 - TJ Oshie (ANA)

Much like Brunnstrom, TJ Oshie scored 86 points to finish second in ICHF scoring and help lead HC Sparta Praha to 1st place in the ICHF West. And much like Brunnstrom, Oshie has been rewarded this year by a spot among Anaheim's top 6 forwards. Anaheim is a much deeper team that Pittsburgh, and Oshie will be playing alongside some of the league's best, but his ranking on this list is marred by what can only be described as a horrific preseason in which he recorded only 1 point in 8 games. But with the roster he's on, the potential is there.

Steve Mason#8 - Steve Mason (TB)

The Lightning have such deep faith in Steve Mason's ability to be a #1 goalie, that they traded Martin Brodeur to the Sabres, making Mason the undisputed #1 in Tampa Bay. These are lofty expectations for someone who has yet to play a game in the CMHL. Mason has shown his skill in the ICHF - he was an All-Star last year, one year after winning the Jennings Trophy. But only time will tell if he can translate that into success in the CMHL, particularly on a team that has struggled so far this year.

David KrejciDerick Brassard#6/7 - Derick Brassard and David Krejci (CMB)

After winning the CMHL Stanley Cup last season, the Blue Jackets took a different approach for Season 6 and promoted a number of rookies to the lineup, most notably David Krejci and Derick Brassard. Both players led MODO in scoring last year, and both had solid preseasons, particularly Krejci who had 5 points in 8 games playing on the 3rd line. Krejci and Brassard will be battling it out all season long for the chance to play with Datsyuk and Gaborik on the 2nd line, while the other plays with rookie teammates Dave Bolland and Tomas Fleischmann on the 3rd line. If only in their style of play, Brassard has the advantage, as he is the more natural offensive player and is more likely to secure power play time, while Krejci on the other hand, is more defensively oriented as is expected to be the Jackets #1 penalty killer this year. Either way, both are playing for keeps on a very deep talented team, and should get lots of minutes as they are groomed to lead the Jackets starting next year when they lose multiple players to free agency.

Kyle Quincey#5 - Kyle Quincey (DET)

Last year's #5 spot was occupied by another Detroit defenceman, Mike Green, who had a respectable, if unimpressive, season. However, he made big strides over the summer and had a terrific preseason, leading the Red Wings in scoring. The primary beneficiary of this will be Kyle Quincey, who is going to be Green's partner in crime, and Detroit's #2 defenceman this season. If Green can keep up his preseason play, we could see Quincey notch 40-50 assists, which would put him on the same level of play that got Dan Girardi a Calder nomination last year.

Kris Versteeg#4 - Kris Versteeg (VAN)

As I said before, TJ Oshie finished 2nd in ICHF scoring - well, the man who finished 1st in ICHF scoring was his teammate Kris Versteeg. Not able to sign Versteeg over the summer, Anaheim dealt him first to Washington, then to Vancouver, where he is going to get a big opportunity to help the Canucks defend their Presidents Trophy. Playing alongside Anze Kopitar, Versteeg could easily hit the point-per-game mark.

Loui Eriksson#3 - Loui Eriksson (CHI)

No one on this list had a more eye opening preseason than Loui Eriksson, who led the Blackhawks with 5 goals and 5 assists in 8 games, outscoring even wonderkind Alex Ovechkin. Since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2004, Eriksson has been moved around the league a lot, but he appears to finally have found his place in the top 6 in Chicago, where outstanding passers such as Ribeiro, Connolly or last year's Calder winner Backstrom abound. Expect 40 or more goals from Eriksson this year.

Pekka Rinne#2 - Pekka Rinne (CHI)

After struggling to find any stability in net last year, the Hawks were easily dismissed by the Blue Jackets in the semi-finals as Manny Legace folded like a deck of cards. This year, the Hawks think they have found their man as rookie goalie Pekka Rinne steps in. Rinne won the ICHF Jennings award last year, and was a Vezina finalist, so this is the logical next step. On a team as good as Chicago, Rinne should be capable of 35 wins however there are questions about his long-term durability. If the Hawks can appropriately manage his ice-time and keep him fresh, they could be looking at the goalie of the future.

Bryan Little#1 - Bryan Little (TOR)

No rookie this year is being given as much of an opportunity to succeed as Bryan Little in Toronto. Little will be starting the season on a line with Pavol Demitra, who exploded offensively last year, and Milan Hejduk, one of the most consistent scoring forwards in the CMHL. Little looked good in the preseason, scoring at a point-per-game pace, and is off to a fast start with two points in the Leafs season opener. Although he needs to improve his faceoff ability before he can call himself a franchise center, there is no question that Bryan Little is in a position to score 80-100 points this year, which easily makes him the early frontrunner for the Calder.

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Comments:

Great article!! Awesome job Mat!

 

There really is a ton of talent of excellent rookies this year. I think Goligoski could be an underdog for the Calder, especially if my team keeps scoring the way they have so far in preseason and the first two games of the regular season. He has impressed m a lot, and I might move him up to the second pairing defense and move Gervais down to the third pairing.

 

And Little has been a beast so far this year, now with 3 points in 2 games. Considering he has an 81 scoring rating and only 64 passing, and already has 3 assists, he might be in for a very big year. Thank god he's signed for another year after this year!

Written By: StajanFan (2009-10-21 18:44:18)

I love this write up and the fact that Schenn is mentioned in the honourable. If Luke keeps this pace up he could end up in the Calder Race. I will cross my finger and hope that he and Enstrom keep on trucking.

Again nice work MR. Mat.

Written By: Gerv (2009-10-22 11:32:40)

Thanks Guys!

Gerv, if Schenn had higher offense ratings, I think he would have made my top 10, but I'll be curious to see how his offensive output holds up over the course of the season.

Written By: habsfan93 (2009-10-22 12:58:29) Good article Mat. It was nice for the Hawks to have 2 of the top 3 players mentioned. Then poof, we are down to one of the 3. I have faith Loui! Written By: Hawky (2009-10-24 10:00:49)

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