Only once in the last 9 years has a player won the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year, in the first season after being drafted. That was Patrick Kane who went first overall in 2007 and won the award for the 2008 season. In fact only 2 first overall picks have won the award in the last 9 years, Kane is one and Alexander Ovechkin in 2006 is the other. This year both of those streaks will likely continue. Here now is a look at the top 5 candidates for the Calder trophy and a few honourable mentions.
5. Niclas Bergfors-Atlanta
Not only is Bergfors 4th in rookie scoring, but he has 20 goals and 6 game winners. 9 of his goals have come on the power play, which some would say detracts from his totals. Since being traded to Atlanta Bergfors has 13 points in 17 games. He leads all rookies in shots with 189.
4. John Tavares-New York Islanders
Last year's first overall pick is 2nd in rookie scoring with 21 goals and 22 assists in 72 games. He's -15 but playing on a team that will again likely be in the NHL draft lottery. Tavares has won 47 per cent of his face offs and is tied for the rookie lead with 10 power play goals. Tavares put up 5 points last week versus Vancouver, but has also gone 13 games with just a single point. His skating was a concern but Tavares seems to be getting around the ice quite nicely.
3. Jimmy Howard-Detroit
Last week Ken Holland said Howard was their team MVP. I would agree. After 4 years in the AHL, Howard is top ten in wins with 29, goals against average of 2.30, and top 5 in save per centage with .924 in 54 games this year. Howard owns the NCAA record for goals against and saver percentage in a single season and might be the most patient player in the NHL as he was drafted in 2003. Most say it's a two horse race, but ignoring Howard's play this year would be flat out wrong.
2. Matt Duchene-Colorado
The 3rd overall pick of last year's draft is the leading rookie scorer and is closing in on 50 points. He's also scored the most goals of any freshman with 23. He started slow with just 7 points in his first 23 games and just 2 goals but has 20 points in his last 25 and has been a huge reason why the Avs who drafted 3rd overall last year are challenging for a division title this year.
1. Tyler Myers-Buffalo
Myers has been all world with the Sabres. He's 3rd in rookie scoring with 23 points is plus 13 and is playing an average of 23:50 per game. Those are unbelievable numbers for a rookie defenceman. If Myers wins and I think he will, he'll become the first blueliner to take the hardware since Barrett Jackman did in in 2003.
Honourable Mention: Jamie Benn in Dallas, James Van Riemsdyk in Philadelphia, Tuuka Rask in Boston, TJ Galiardi in Colorado, Michael Del Zotto in New York.