Despite being halfway through the summer, on July 15 the NHL announced the finalists for the Calder Trophy. Also, the New York Islanders announced the signing of one of their top prospects and we will take a look at one of the best goalie prospects available the 2020 NHL Draft.
2020 Calder Trophy Finalists
After much debate and speculation, the three finalists for the Calder Trophy are Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik and Cale Makar.
Related: The 2020 Calder Trophy Race
If you have been following the NHL in any capacity, two of those Calder Trophy nominees should be no surprise. Makar and Hughes have been shoe-ins for the award since before the NHL All-Star break, with the race being between them for the majority of the season.
Despite being seen as the long-shot, Kubalik more than deserves his nomination. His 30 goals scored are 10 more than second place in rookie goal-scoring, and his 46 points are good for third. While you can make a strong case that Mackenzie Blackwood deserves a nod for his strong play behind a bad New Jersey Devils team, his being passed over is no real surprise.
So, who will win the Calder Trophy? While there is a real surge of support behind Hughes, the trophy has seemed destined for Makar since the start of the season.
Islanders Sign Sorokin
As one of the final super prospects who were in limbo due to delayed 2020 playoffs, the Islanders have finally signed goaltender Ilya Sorokin. While he won’t be able to play in the playoffs, Sorokin will get needed time with his new teammates and experience preparing for NHL hockey this summer.
As said by Dominik of lighthousehockey.com:
He has been a star in the KHL for longer than any of our essays on “different league, small sample.” His eight KHL seasons include six with CSKA Moscow, where he won championships and took names. He’s also been a medalist and gold medalist in various tournaments for Russia and, at the Olympic level…
For the Islanders, Sorokin has the potential to be a franchise goaltender, something they have lacked in recent years. With Semyon Varlamov signed through the 2022-23 season, he will have plenty of time to learn how to play in North America.
If things go well, Sorokin could even take over Varlamov’s starting role as soon as next year, however, he doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. Even if he spends one year as a back-up, he still has the highest ceiling out of any goaltending prospect in the NHL.
Prospect of the Day: Calle Clang
As a third-round pick at the 2014 NHL Draft, it took Sorokin more than six-seasons to make his way to North America. For the prospect of the day, we will look at Swedish goaltending prospect Calle Clang, who could be a player who spends a few years overseason before taking over an NHL starting gig.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
As one of the top goaltending prospects available at the 2020 Draft, Clang feels like one of those players who will earn a starting role in the NHL, but it might take some time. As said by THW:
The intangibles are there for Clang, whose 6-foot-2 frame is in line for an NHL goaltender, and he already has a lot of experience for his young age. Leading into the 2020 Draft, he has done nothing but raise his stock, with impressive performances for the Sweden U18 team. In four games played, he posted a 2.00 goals-against average (GAA) and a .939 save percentage (SV%).
Clang has the talent and toolkit to become a starting NHL goaltender, however, he isn’t as polished as some of the other top prospects at the draft. As a likely third to fifth-round selection, he could be a great long-term investment for a franchise that lacks depth but has stable starting goaltending.
Much like Sorokin, Clang’s rise to the NHL will likely take years, not months, but once he takes over a starting role, he may not let it go for a decade.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.