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CMHL Calder Candidates - A Mid-Season Review Written by habsfan93 - January 19th, 2010

At the start of the season, I predicted the top 10 Calder Trophy candidates for Rookie of the Year - a who's who of who to look for among the rookie crop. With the All-Star Break approaching, marking the halfway mark of the season, let's take a look at the top 10 today and see how it compares.

For reference, the start of the year top 10 was:

10 - Fabian Brunnstrom, PIT
9 - TJ Oshie, ANA
8 - Steve Mason, TB
7 - David Krejci, CMB
6 - Derick Brassard, CMB
5 - Kyle Quincey, DET
4 - Kris Versteeg, VAN
3 - Loui Eriksson, CHI
2 - Pekka Rinne, CHI
1 - Bryan Little, TOR

At the halfway mark, several players have fallen out of favour. Fabian Brunnstrom has been a huge dissapointment on a thriving Penguins team. Expected to score 20 if not 30 goals, he has only 3 through 41 games along with a team worst -14 rating.

David Krejci has a terrible start for Columbus, losing playing time to Derick Brassard and essentially seeing Blue Jackets management give up on him - they shipped him to Vancouver where he has seen more opportunity and points, but it may be too late to get back into Calder's good graces.

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded star netminder Martin Brodeur on the belief that Steve Mason was capable of handling the #1 role as a rookie - they may be regretting that move now, as Mason caved under the pressure and the Lightning found themselves at the bottom of the East early on. Since then, they have acquired Manny Legace to come in and provide a more veteran presence, and they are climbing their way back up the standings. But Mason's chances of a Calder Trophy have gone by the wayside.

TJ Oshie meanwhile was widely thought to be a lock for a full-time role on a top line in Anaheim - instead he was sent down to the minors after only 13 games, and looks to be another year away from being on this list.

Here's the list of those in favor now...

Honourable Mentions: Ian White (NYI), David Krejci (VAN), Josh Gorges (PHI), Denis Grebeshov (CHI), Milan Lucic (NJ), Luke Schenn (PHX), Marc Staal (BUF), Claude Giroux (LA)

Kyle Okposo#10 - Kyle Okposo (NYI) - Previously Not Listed - Okposo didn't make the preseason list because he was buried on a deep Flames team. But then he was dealt to the Islanders, and given an opportunity to play on a 2nd line with Corey Perry and fellow rookie Patrik Berglund, and his stock has risen ever since. He now has 11 goals and 10 assists in 36 games, and if he can have a really strong second half, he could work his way close to the top of the rookie scoring race.

 



Pekka Rinne

#9 - Pekka Rinne (OTT) - Previously #2 - Though he started the season in Chicago, Rinne was dealt to the Senators early on as they got into salary cap trouble and Rinne came cheap. He hasn't played remarkably well though, nowhere near putting up the kind of numbers that won Henrik Lundqvist the Calder in Season 4. That said, he is on a strong team, and should finish the season with a greater than .500 record in 60+ starts - not too shabby at all for a rookie. He'll need to improve his personal stats (Save % and GAA) into the league's top 15 or even top 10 in order to get a Calder nomination though.

David Perron#8 - David Perron (PHI) - Previously Not Listed - Left off the preseason top 10, it didn't look like Perron fit into the top 6 in Philly. In fact, he still doesn't but he didn't back down and has been putting up remarkable numbers for a 3rd line player, now with 9 goals and 13 assists in 36 games. Perron is not letting people forget about him - if he can work his way into some more ice time, he could be a real threat before the season is out.

 



Kyle Quincey#7 - Kyle Quincey (DET) - Previously #5 - The lone defenceman on the preseason list, Quincey just won't back down. Though his teammate, Mike Green, is quietly preparing to smash every CMHL defenceman record in the book, Quincey is benefitting in a big way and has 10 goals and 12 assists in 39 games to show for it, including 7 goals on the power play and 4 game winners, all while logging 20+ minutes a game. Defencemen don't often challenge for the Calder because they don't put up the glorious offensive numbers, but Quincey has the tools to change all that.



#6 - Derick Brassard (CMB) - Previously #6 - At the start of the season, the Blue Jackets had two top rookie centers - only one remains, as Derick Brassard beat out David Krejci for the second line center role in Columbus. While Krejci struggled, Brassard has quietly put up very respectable numbers centering top flight players like Datsyuk and Gionta. His 11 goals and 13 assists in 39 games puts him right in the thick of it, and his 49% faceoff rate is as good as you can expect from a rookie center.



Kris Versteeg#5 - Kris Versteeg (CGY) - Previously #4 - Though he started the year in Vancouver, Versteeg was shipped in a multi-player deal to the Calgary Flames - either way, he is getting prime minutes with a playoff caliber team, and Versteeg has shown his talent as he has been one of the better rookie passers so far this year, with 18 assists and 6 goals in 38 games. Playing on a line with top scorer Phil Kessel could mean a lot more assists before the end of the year if they can find some magic together.

Steven Stamkos#4 - Steven Stamkos (STL) - Previously Not Listed - Playing on a team managed by one of the most patient GM's in the league, it was thought that things would go slow with Stamkos rather than stepping into the spotlight. Quite the opposite - Stamkos trails only All-Star Scott Gomez in scoring for the Blues, as he has 11 goals and 13 assists through 36 games. His faceoff rate is a very poor 42% and will need to be a major point of improvement if he is to take the next step in the CMHL.

 

 

Brandon Dubinsky#3 - Brandon Dubinsky (LA) - Previously Not Listed - It wasn't imminently clear what kind of opportunity Brandon Dubinsky would get in LA, and this left him off the preseason top 10, but a very strong start by both himself and the Kings has put him in a great position on this list. 8 goals and 18 assists in 39 games means he's keeping pace with the top rookie scorers. He's among the hits leaders for rookies, and his faceoff rate is a very good 52%.

 



Loui Eriksson#1B - Loui Eriksson (CHI) - Previously #3 - The remaining part of a duo of Chicago rookies, Eriksson was expected to score goals, and he has not dissapointed. His 15 goals in 41 games gives him the lead among all rookies and is second on the Blackhawks. Along with 12 assists, Eriksson is quietly leading the new regime in Chicago. His 7 power play and 4 game winning goals demonstrate that he has a knack for scoring when it matters.

 


Bryan Little#1 - Bryan Little (TOR) - Previously #1 - Not one to cave under the pressure, Little retains the #1 spot on this list, though his margin of lead is very narrow. Although originally slated to start the season at center, Little has since been moved to the right wing as he struggled in the faceoff circle and the Maple Leafs failed to generate any kind of secondary scoring early in the season. Nevertheless, Little has put up a very respectable 11 goals and 18 assists through 38 games, good for first place in the rookie scoring standings, along with a team leading 5 game winning goals and 6 power play goals.

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Comments:

Great article as always Mat! It should be a good race for the Calder right to the finish, hopefully Little can find some magic with someone and rekindle that early scoring touch he had in the first 25 or so games. He has really gone cold lately, typical rookie wall he has hit it seems.

Written By: StajanFan (2010-01-19 18:59:44)

Derick Brassard has clearly taken offence to the #6 ranking. He's been on fire since I wrote this, and is now 3rd in rookie scoring, only 2 points behind Little and Eriksson.

Crazy!

Written By: habsfan93 (2010-01-20 14:17:02)

Very well done, although on behalf of Steve Mason I must say you may have missed the boat.  Why?

Pekke Rinne is a talented goaltender.  He also plays for a club that has far more depth than the Lightning.  Playing on a better team, as witnessed by the 12 points they are ahead of the Lightning at the time of this comment, lets compare the stats ...

Rinne 42gp  Mason 26gp
(True, we brought a veteran back in for stability, but that is/was not a reflection on Mason's play, which has been consistent all season)

Rinne 21-15-2  Mason 8-9-6
(Better team, better record)

Rinne 3.08GAA  Mason 2.85GAA
(hmmmmm)

Rinne .895 save%  Mason .895 Save%
(on par)

Rinne 0 shutouts  Mason 2 shutouts

While I agree that Rinne has done a great job being thrown into the full time starter role, and that as a goaltender in the CMHL the numbers have to be pretty spectacular to win the Rookie of the Year, one can not argue that Mason's stats do not give up anything to Rinne's other than his W-L record (on a deeper team).

Written By: Dave (2010-01-20 14:27:54)

Great write up, ya Oshie just didnt fit this year and even though it seems his ratings might  be worse next year he will be giving alot more oppurtunity for his 2 mill contract to be in the top 6.

Also Dave, you cant argue with Rinne over Mason as he has almost as many wins as Mason has games played. Thats obviously played a huge role and I think when all is said and done Rinne very well has a chance to be a calder finalist.

Written By: quackquack (2010-01-23 15:53:34)

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