Over a month into NHL action and the Calder Trophy race is already in full swing.
The rookies came out swinging in the early going, keeping up with the premier players of the NHL. This could definitely turn out to be one of the tightest Calder races in recent memory.
There is an obvious group leading the way thus far, as mentioned in the Calder Trophy Race – The Early Leaders. But, there is also a secondary group of dark horses, many of which could be primed for a big second half of the year. Whether it was a slow start or an injury, these rookies didn’t get off to a spectacular start, but have all the makings to make a push in the race.
There are some exciting forwards on this list with outstanding offensive talent, and the ability to lead their team at a very young age. As well, a goaltender who is looking to steal a starting position is in position to make a strong push.
6 goals and 9 points in 15 games
The 2015 second overall pick got off to somewhat of a slow start, with just four points in his first 12 games. However, Eichel has rebounded with five points in his past three games. He has been a force, as expected, in the offensive zone, creating tons of scoring chances each night. He is second just to Ryan O’Reilly on the team in points so far. Eichel also ranks ninth in the NHL in shots, with 56, proving he has been all over the ice consistently. Eichel is currently trending upwards, and should still be a guy to watch for the Calder.
3 goals and 9 points in 15 games
After shoulder surgery sidelined Bennett for most of last season, delaying his rookie year, he made his debut on the last night of the season, before impressing during the playoffs. Because of that, Bennett was one of the favourites for the Calder before the 2015-16 campaign began. He got off to a slow start, with just one assist in the first eight games. However, Bennett has found his groove of late, scoring eight points over his last seven games. Bennett could certainly continue on his strong rate of production throughout the season and threaten for the Calder Trophy.
2-1-0 with a 2.37 GAA and a .924 Save%
After necessary surgery to remove a blood clot near his collarbone in September delayed the start of his season by a month, Vasilevskiy is back and looking to take over the starter’s role in Tampa Bay. With the opportunity to start three of the last five games, Vasilevskiy has started off his year on a strong note. With the Lightning slumping, he has a legitimate shot to overtake Ben Bishop as the starter, and with such, turn in a spectacular rookie campaign. Fans should definitely remember to keep an eye on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
4 goals and 10 points in 15 games
Larkin had an amazing 2014-15 season, tearing it up at the University of Michigan in his freshman year before heading to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL for the postseason. He was named Prospect of the Year by hockeysfuture.com. He’s gotten off to a strong start in the NHL as well, currently tied for second on the Red Wings in points. He leads all rookies, and is second in the NHL, with a +11 rating. With Datsyuk returning soon as well, Larkin could fin himself playing with some very talented player, boosting his production and his Calder Trophy odds at the same time.
4 goals and 9 points in 16 games
The ninth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft got off to a hot start with the Jets before going on a current four-game pointless streak. The ‘Dashing Dane’ is an electric player on the ice, with blazing speed and phenomenal hands. Despite playing third line minutes, Ehlers is producing consistent scoring chances each and every night. A deserved promotion to the second line later this year could result in a boost in Ehlers numbers, pushing him into the Calder Trophy race.
Who do you think will win the Calder Trophy in 2015-16?
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Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at email@example.com or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.