Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Top 5 Tuesday: Calder Candidates
Tonight on the show we'll be discussing who our favorite Calder Trophy candidates are. Joining us will be Hockey Night in Canada's Jeff Marek.
Here now are 5+ rookies I think you should watch.
5. Symeon Varlamov-Washington Capitals/Jonas Gustuvsson-Toronto Maple Leafs
This one is a toss up for me, because it depends on who gets the most playing time. The Caps are giving Jose Theodore a chance to regain the #1 job, even though it was the Russian Varlamov who led Washington in the playoffs after Theodore struggled. Meanwhile 'The Monster' in Toronto has Vesa Toskala to deal with, and if Toskala has more injury or inconsistancy problems, Gustuvsson could steal the #1 job. He's played more than 102 games over the past 2 years and looked very good in the pre season.
4. Alex Pietrangelo-St. Louis Blues
Pietrangelo was among a great group of blueliners at the 2008 NHL draft. He was drafted behind Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian and just ahead of Luke Schenn whom the Leafs took 5th overall. Last season he played 8 games with St. Louis before being sent back to Niagra of the OHL where he was an offensive force from the blueline with 29 points in 36 games. A future PP QB Pietrangelo has all the tools and his 6.03 build gives him an even bigger advantage. He'll learn from Barret Jackman, Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson in St. Louis and it wont' be long before he takes his place as a top 2 rearguard.
3. Colin Wilson-Nasvhille Predators
A tweaked groin has the predators being cautious with Wilson, and it may require a stint in Milwaukee to start the year, but once he gets to the NHL look out. The fitness fanatic who is 6.01 and tips the scales at about 215 pounds, would just as soon run over you as go around, and he can do both. Wilson helped Boston University win a NCAA Frozen Four championship last year, when he racked up 55 points in 43 games while adding 53 penalty minutes. He also played for the U.S. at the World Hockey Championship after his season at BU wrapped up. The son of former NHLer Carey Wilson has terrific hockey sense and while he'll likely be more of a set up man, he has a very good shot. He's not as big as Jason Arnott yet, but he will soon be taking the torch from the current Preds power forward.
2. John Tavares-New York Islanders
Mike Bossy and Dale Hawerchuk are the guys Tavares is being compared to. The man nicknamed 'Ducky' lit the lamp 45 times and added 58 assists in 80 games with the Jets in 1981-1982. As for Bossy, he didn't have as many points, but did snipe 53 times, the start of his 9 straight 50+ goal seasons. I don't think Tavares will come anywhere near 50, but he has a nose for the net judging by his almost goal per game pace in junior and with Doug Weight feeding him the puck could skate his way to the Calder, even though most think skating is the weakest part of his game.
1. Nikita Filatov-Columbus Blue Jackets
For me, Filatov was the most skilled player chosen in the 2008 NHL entry draft. He was stuck behind a Canadian forward and a wack of exceptional defenceman and that's the reason he went 6th overall. Filatov notched a hatty in his first NHL with the Jackets, and scored 4 goals in 8 NHL games. He was pretty good in the AHL with Syracuse as well putting up 16 goals, adding 16 assists in 39 games. Columbus has some pretty good offensive weapons with Rick Nash, Derrik Brassard and Jacub Voracek. If Filatov can slide in on the second line somewhere he could do some real damage.
Also here are some others to keep an eye on, as remember nobody was talking about Steve Mason, Krist Versteeg or Bobby Ryan as favorites last year.
Victor Hedman-Tampa Bay Lightning. For some reason my brain was cramping when I did the list the first time and he wasn't on it. I don't think he'll win the Calder but should have a nice rookie season, especially with Mattias Ohlund helping him along.
Evander Kane-Atlanta. The 4th overall pick in 2009 scored 48 goals with Vancouver of the WHL last year and has reportedly looked good in Trashers camp.
Artem Anisimov-New York Rangers. We were talking about this guy last April, and you can read about it here. The Russian had 6 points in 6 pre season games, including a couple of dazzling goals.
Sergei Shirokov-Vancouver. Another Russian who hardly anyone outside of Vancouver was talking about before the pre season. With Pavel Demitra injured to start the year, the 23 year old will get a shot, and is just the dark horse who could win the race.
Dmitri Kulkov-Florida Panthers. Slick skating blueliner, might be able to off set some of the loss felt from Jay Bouwmeester leaving town.
Who's on your list that's not on mine?