Top 10 Calder Candidates
Tab Bamford takes a look at the top rookies of the 2013 NHL season.
CHICAGO -- As teams look at their schedules and realize their in the
final stretch of the regular season, it's a great time to look at the
impact a pretty good class of rookies has made on the NHL this year.
All over the league, rookies have been stepping into significant roles
with teams and making an impact.
Some are helping their teams delay the golf season with a playoff
appearance, while others can be excited about getting ready for a
second NHL campaign.
With that, here is my Top 10 Calder Candidates on the Year:
10. Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad, F, Ottawa (tie)
With all of the injuries hitting the Sens this year, certainly Ottawa
wouldn't be in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt without these two.
Silfverberg is one of only four rookies with a short-handed goal this
year and is skating some of the heaviest ice time of any rookie
forward, while Zibanejad's three powerplay goals have been key.
9. Alex Galchenyuk, F, Montreal
Galchenyuk has been at or near the top of this year's rookie class in
assists for much of the season, and he continues to be among the
rookie leaders in plus-minus, as well. He's the first of two Habs to
make this list, and is a big reason the future is looking up in
8. Cory Conacher, F, Ottawa
Conacher is unique on this list, being the only rookie forward to wear
more than one sweater this season. But jumping from Tampa to Ottawa
has given Conacher a chance to put his skills to work in a playoff
race. He's second in this year's class with 28 points through 44
7. Brendan Gallagher, F, Montreal
The second player to represent the Habs on our list, and is one of
only five rookies to hit double-digits in both goals (11) and assists
(10). He's also at the top of the class with three game-winning goals
and has a few tallies on the powerplay.
6. Dougie Hamilton, D, Boston
The first defenseman to make the list, Hamilton has been the toast of
Boston since sticking in the Bruins' lineup. With 16 points and a
couple powerplay goals on his resume, he's making an impact
offensively. But skating next to Zdeno Chara speaks to the respect he
has on -- and behind -- the bench in Boston.
5. Nail Yakupov, F, Edmonton
The top overall pick in last summer's draft, Yakupov is the first of
two Oilers to crack our list. He leads rookies with five powerplay
goals and has a couple game-winners this year among his 11 goals, and
has added 14 assists, as well.
4. Justin Schultz, D, Edmonton
The highly-touted college free agent sweepstakes took Schultz to
Edmonton, where he's averaging 21:27 on the ice per night and leads
all rookie defensemen with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists). He is
also near the top of the class with four powerplay goals and two
game-winners, and has been as-advertised. Unfortunately, his minus-17
rating is among the worst in this season's rookie class and Edmonton
is once again anticipating an early summer.
3. Jake Muzzin, D, Los Angeles
Muzzin doesn't have the sexy offensive production of some others in
this year's class (only 16 points in 42 games), but his impact on the
Kings' blueline hasn’t come in points. With injuries depleting the
defending champions' depth, Muzzin has stepped into a major role and
been fantastic over the last couple months.
2. Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Florida
The rookie leader with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists), Huberdeau
also leads rookie forwards in ice time per game (16:51). He has been a
constant in the Panthers' lineup this season while others have come
and gone due to injury, and has been a bright spot in a
less-than-stellar (read: in the cellar) season in Florida.
1. Brandon Saad, F, Chicago
Saad didn't dress for the season opener for Chicago, and then only
registered four points through the season's first 19 games. But since
March 1, Saad has been a point-per-game performer on the top line for
the top team in the game. While some might point to Saad benefitting
from skating with Jonathan Toews every night, his offensive production
remained constant while Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa were missing
from the Hawks' lineup. He has been a major contributor to both
special teams in Chicago and has the only short-handed game-winning
goal from this year's rookie class.