With the first half of the 2015-16 NHL season in the books, it’s time to start handing out the hardware. The LWOS hockey department has come together to give you our picks for the major NHL awards, starting will a full breakdown of the Hart followed by the Calder and the staff’s picks for the rest of the awards. To read our pick for the Hart click here. Today we move on to the Calder Trophy.
NHL Mid-Season Awards: The Calder Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is the annual award given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”
Coming into the season most analysts picked Connor McDavid as the surefire winner of this award, and Jack Eichel as his biggest competition. However, what makes the Calder Trophy great is the fact that its probably the most unpredictable award in the NHL. Every year there are surprises who come out of nowhere to contend for the award, and this year is no different.
5.) Colton Parayko, Defence, St. Louis Blues
Playing college hockey just one year ago, Parayko has come almost out of nowhere to be an absolute revelation on the Blues blue line. Seeing a youngster come in with a strong enough game in his own end of the rink that the young defenceman trusted by Ken Hitchcock and already playing over 19 minutes a night is impressive enough in its own right. Seeing that Parayko has added offence as well, with 17 points this year, makes him a contender for the rookie of the year award.
4.) Dylan Larkin, Left Wing/Centre, Detroit Red Wings
The first teenager to make the Red Wings out of training camp in 23 years, Larkin has proved that he belongs in the NHL with 14 goals and 29 points in 42 games. At +22 on the year, he is not just leading all rookies in the stat, but is just one behind Tyler Toffoli for the overall NHL lead heading into Wednesday’s action. Larkin’s mature two-way game isn’t something that is typically seen from a teenager, and has earned him not just a spot in Detroit to start the year, but a permanent home in the motor city.
3.) John Gibson, Goaltender, Anaheim Ducks
John Gibson may have only played 18 games this season, but has put up a 9-6-0-2 record in that stretch. He’s also put up a very impressive .926 save percentage, 1.84 goals against average and 4 shutouts. Gibson started the season in the AHL, but has earned his spot after being called up as an injury replacement. With the Ducks struggling to score goals, Gibson’s outstanding netminding has allowed the team to overcome that and still string a number of win together. Gibson will need to maintain his hold on the Ducks number one job, and continue his stellar play if he wants to challenge for the Calder. If he is able to get the Ducks into the playoffs, he could really help his chances.
2.) Max Domi, Left Wing, Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes have been one of the NHL’s biggest success stories this season. A big reason for their winning ways has been an injection of young forward talent on the team. Domi has been the brightest star of their young forward core. With 31 points in 42 games, he’s shown the kind of dynamic talent that his father Tie could only dream of. Domi’s efforts have helped the Coyotes into a playoff spot at the midway point of the season, something that not many people would have predicted. If Domi can keep putting up points and help the Coyotes maintain that spot to the end of the year, he should see a little extra boost in his vote total.
1.) Artemi Panarin, Left Wing, Chicago Blackhawks
Some will say that Panarin is getting the benefit of playing on a line with one of the NHL’s best players in Patrick Kane, and while that’s certainly true it would be short changing him to say that this is the only reason he’s leading all NHL rookies with 15 goals and 39 points in 45 games. Panarin has shown that he is a talented scorer in his own rights, and he’s earned his points, and his spot in the Blackhawks top six. Panarin was a dominant scorer in the KHL last season, and helped his team, SKA St. Petersburg, to the Gagarin Cup. He’s translated that scoring to the NHL, and has helped Chicago replace the scoring that left the team for cap reasons in the summer. He looks a good bet to add the Calder hardware to the trophy case, and could add more as the Hawks are once again Stanley Cup Contenders.
Just missed the cut: Connor Hellebuyck, Jack Eichel, Anthony Duclair, Oscar Lindberg