Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top 5 Tuesday: Calder Dark Horses

This past Saturday our NHL insider Daren Millard from Rogers Sportsnet joined us (as he will every Saturday) to talk rookies and freshman in the big show. The week before that HNIC radio Jeff Marek gave us his Calder trophy candidates. From Eberle, Hall, Paajarvi to Seguin, Ennis and Carlson we talked about a lot of candidates.

There are a number of well known young kids who could take home the hardware, or it might be another surprise winner a la Tyler Myers of last year. Here are 5 guys who might be able to mimic what the now Sabre sophomore did in his rookie season.

5. Jamie McBain-Carolina Hurricanes
After a full season in the AHL where he put up 40 points in 68 games, McBain seems ready - as the Canes seem to see him as ready - to make the jump to the big show. In his 3 seasons at Wisconsin under defenceman guru Mark Osiecki, the 2nd round pick upped his point totals each year. He also spent time with the Canes last year putting up 10 points in 14 games. He as good size at 6.02, 200 lbs and his mobility isn't an issue.

4. Logan Couture - San Jose Sharks
The reason he is in my dark horse section is because I didn't think Couture was still a rookie, and I'm betting that I'm not alone. He played 25 games with the Sharks last year in a season where he was up and down more then a zipper on.....I better not, but let's just say we tried to get him on our show several times and couldn't because even the PR people didn't know where he was half the time. While in the NHL he scored 5 times and added 4 helpers. With Worcester he lit it up going 20-33-53 in just 42 games. He's ready to take a big step and will be surrounded by talent.

3. Mikal Neuvirth-Washington Capitals
This is my personal dark horse pick to win the Calder. I wasn't a big fan of the Czech goaltender when he was with Plymouth as he was terrible at the 2007 Memorial Cup, but since then he's been sensational. 2 Calder Cup titles with Hershey of the AHL. Neuvirth has a chance to shine early as well with Sergei Varlamov dinged up, and with that offence in front of him he just has to be good for peopel to consider him for the ROY.

2. Brayden Schenn-Los Angeles Kings
When Anze Kopitar needed some dental work against Vancouver the other night, Schenn slid into his centre spot and didn't look out of place. Last year he was an emergency call up, and so far has cracked the roster. Schenn is an all around great player, from scoring to checking to hitting he does it all. Hockey Canada and the Brandon Wheat Kings are hoping he gets sent back as he'll be the top centre on both teams, but LA is liking Luke's younger brother and with increased responsibility comes Calder opportunity.

1. Derek Stepan-New York Rangers
Now before you think we're jumping on the 'hat trick in his first game' band wagon, you should know that Guy picked Stepan as his Calder Dark horse when we did our predictions a couple of weeks ago. It's around the 13:30 mark here. The 2nd Badger to appear on this list, Stepan tore up the WCHA with 54 points last year in Wisconsin. I thought he was great at the World Junior Champiopsnip where he captained team USA to a title with 14 points in 7 games. His 10 assists were the second best for a single tournament in American history.

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