We’ve now reached the halfway point for all teams in the National Hockey League. There has been exciting storylines and great individual performances during the season. Through these contenders for awards have started to emerge. Last Word on Hockey has made their picks for each, and here are the Calder Trophy choices. The Jack Adams Award was the last in the series.
Last Word on Hockey’s Mid-Season Awards: Calder Trophy
Winning in a landslide, 11 of 15 LWOH writers who voted put Auston Matthews first on their ballot. With 21 goals and 37 points through 41 games, he’s Toronto’s leading scorer, on pace to destroy the franchise’s rookie scoring record. He currently sits tied with Patrik Laine for first among NHL rookies in both points and goals.
Ever since his four-goal NHL debut, Matthews has had a greater impact on the Leafs than anyone could’ve imagined. He’s one of the team’s top possession players, and he’s generating shots at a historic level. Excelling in pretty much every situation the Leafs have used him in, while playing on a line with two other rookies, Matthews is a justified source of huge excitement in Toronto, and is undoubtedly the most impactful rookie this season. His hockey IQ is off the charts, and he also does stuff like this sometimes.
If the season ended today, Laine would very easily be in the running for rookie of the year. With an identical points total to Matthews, he’s seamlessly transitioned to the Jets lineup. Unfortunately, where he’ll stand on this list at the end of the year is completely up in the air, now that the rest of his season is in doubt due to a concussion.
Winnipeg dearly needs Laine back as they fight to stay in a playoff race in the Western Conference. His effect on their lineup cannot be understated, and although he mostly plays with more experienced players than Matthews, there’s no denying that the first half of Laine’s rookie season has been excellent.
Werenski actually received more first-place votes from LWOH writers than Laine. His 26 points lead all rookie defencemen, as well as all Columbus blueliners. Sixteen of those points have come on the power play, which actually leads all rookie skaters. And when you take into account that’s operating on the best powerplay in the league currently, it makes it all the more impressive.
Werenski has broken into the NHL quicker than expected, and has been a workhorse for the Blue Jackets, playing 21 minutes a game and quarterbacking the league-best power play. He excels in the offensive zone, and has been able to use his 6’2″ frame to dominate NHL competition.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining rookies to watch this year, Marner’s 35 points put him on pace to be second in all-time Leafs rookie scoring—behind Matthews, of course. He leads all rookies with 25 assists, and his slick hands and elite passing ability have allowed his line to compete with anyone offensively. Marner has silenced all the preseason questions about whether or not he’s ready for the NHL. Not only does he belong in this league at 19 years old, he excels in it.
Still a rookie after backstopping the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last year, Murray’s .925 save percentage is fifth in the entire NHL. Splitting the starting duties with Marc-Andre Fleury, he likely won’t get too much attention from Calder voters, but he deserves some recognition for how well he’s played. Murray could certainly be a starter in the NHL, and will be once Fleury is gone by the summer.
A late surger in the 2016 draft rankings, Provorov wasn’t quite a sure thing at seventh overall for Philadelphia. However, he’s asserted himself quickly and is now one of the Flyers’ most indispensable blueliners. With 20 points in 46 games, he leads all Flyers defencemen. He’s adjusted well to the NHL in both ends of the ice, and has been a real difference maker for a team in a playoff race.
via Last Word on Hockey, by Charlie Clarke (Associate Editor)