NHL Awards Series: Calder Memorial Trophy

Last Word On Sports is doing our annual awards nominations and predictions. We’ll be giving you our nominations and predictions for the Selke Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Calder Trophy, Norris Trophy, Jack Adams Trophy, and the Hart Trophy.

The Calder Memorial Trophy is named in honour of Frank Calder, the former President of the NHL from its inception in 1917 to his death in 1943. Although Rookie of the Year honors were handed out beginning in 1932-33, the Calder Trophy was first presented at the conclusion of the 1936-37 season. After Calder’s death in 1943, the trophy was renamed the Calder Memorial Trophy. To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league

As the NHL states:

The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”

Last season, the Calder Memorial Trophy was won by Canadian forward Nathan MacKinnon, who recorded 63 points in 82 games, showcasing that he is a true NHL star. He won the award beating Lightning forwards Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov, Predators defenseman Seth Jones and Flames centre Sean Monahan, who also were great forces for their teams. However their efforts weren’t enough,  as MacKinnon was sometimes looked to as the next Sidney Crosby, which was far too ambitious though he is still a franchise player.

With all that said, we take a look at three possible candidates who could be locks for the Calder Memorial Trophy this season, and some honourable mentions tossed in as well.

The Calder Memorial Trophy Candidates:

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

“Johnny Hockey” has been a force for the Calgary Flames, recording 64 points in 80 games and is one of frontrunners for the Calder. The biggest surprise is that he was drafted  in the 4th round, 104th overall in 2011 entry draft — although he certainly seems like a first-rounder now.  He is a very creative player who somehow has learned how to avoid being hit and boasts an amazing forehand and backhand shot. This prototypical offensive winger can put up points and be relied upon to create scoring chances whenever he is on the ice.

Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators

You can’t say that Andrew Hammond has been the lone sensation in Ottawa, as Stone, who was drafted in 6th round 178th overall in 2010 NHL entry draft, finished his first full season with the Senators tied for the league-lead in rookie scoring with 64 points (26 goals and 38 assists). He also lead all rookies with a +21. The right winger has had a really good breakout season and looks to be on fire heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

The 2014 1st overall pick was just the second player in OHL history to be granted exceptional player status. Ekblad is an asset to the Panthers powerplay, penalty kill and even strength situations, and has posted 38 points (12 goals and 26 assists). He has been the most fun-to-watch defensman this season, and some people have compared him to Nick Lidstrom as the next generational blue-liner in the league. Ekblad has amazing hockey sense and is a huge game changer in all three zones.

My Ballot Choices

First Place: Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Second Place: Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators
Third Place: Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

 

Honourable Mentions:

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators

One of the most outstanding rookie acts this season was Forsberg, who at one point led the entire league in plus-minus. The first year stud was drafted 11th overall in the 2012 entry draft by the Capitals, who  later traded him to Nashville in exchange for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. In his rookie season, Forsberg recorded 63 points (26 goals and 37 assists), just one point behind Gaudreau and Stone.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators

“The Hoff” is a hard working, gritty forward. Offensively, he has a great shot and outstanding playmaking ability, yet he is also a speedy skater who should improve his defensive play.  He finished fourth in rookie scoring this season, putting up 27 goals and 48 points.

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