The finalists for the Calder trophy have been announced. [Yahoo]. They are Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers.
Most people are of the opinion that whoever wins the Hart trophy should be on a team that made the playoffs. But that isn’t the case for the other awards. And so while playoffs shouldn’t factor in to who wins the rookie of the year award, it does make the debate a little more interesting. Mark Stone scored clutch goal after clutch goal on route to Ottawa’s playoff berth. He along with Andrew Hammond were arguably the teams MVP’s down the stretch. But his 26 goals were second to fellow rookie Mike Hoffman who had 27, and defenceman Erik Karlsson had more points. Stone got a lot of attention for taking the team on his back on many nights in their surge for the playoffs. But over the course of the entire season, would you say he was the best rookie in the NHL?
Johnny Gaudreau was also a big part of his teams run to the playoffs. Though he didn’t lead the Flames in points or goals, he was right at the top in both categories, and it was his slick moves with the puck that caught everyone’s attention. Despite being listed at 5″9, he never shied away from contact or refused to go into the dirty areas of the ice. His speed and electric skill made him fun to watch. But, similar to Stone, would you say that overall he was the most impressive rookie this season? You could argue that Filip Forsberg, who led the Nashville Predators in both goals and points, would have been more worthy of a nomination.
And then there’s Aaron Ekblad, the 18 year-old defenceman of the Florida Panthers. He was drafted first overall last summer and came in with high expectations. But what he accomplished was much more than expected. One of the most difficult positions for young players to acclimate themselves to is defence. It takes time for prospects to get used to the size and speed at the NHL level, and it’s easier to shelter young players on the wing than it is on the blueline. It’s common for young defenders to get exposed. But Ekblad showed remarkable poise in his freshman year. He looked like a wily veteran, not a fresh-faced 18 year-old. He was fourth on the Panthers with 39 points, and he was a +plus 12 on the year while playing against tough competition.
His Panthers fell short of the playoffs but they made great strides after finishing in the bottom of the standings last year. Ekblad played in 81 games and didn’t look out of place in any of them. A lot of times, you see the flashy forwards and the dazzling goals and you put more value on that. But what Aaron Ekblad did at his age and his position makes him worthy of winning the Calder Trophy, playoff team or not.
Speaking of Stone, do his Senators have a historic comeback in them? [Grantland]
There can only be three Calder candidates. But Filip Forsberg was certainly worthy. [Puck Daddy]
Shea Weber is rumored to have a torn ACL. [Puckfeed]
Tampa Bay was down 2-0 in the third period. No problem. [ESPN]
It looks as though the Sharks will be hanging onto their GM. [The Score]
It’s the end of the road for Kevin Lowe as the President of Hockey ops in Edmonton. [Copper N Blue]
Should the Oilers considering trading the first overall pick? No, but we can talk about it. [Today’s Slap Shot]
Edmonton hasn’t closed the door on re-signing Derek Roy. [The Score]
Well obviously Jarrett Stoll wasn’t partying alone. [Hockey Feed]
The Jets battled through injury, but they still didn’t have enough against the Ducks. [Global]
And finally, Mikael Backlund has a guarantee for Flames fans. [Calgary Sun]