Each year the Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the rookie deemed to be the most valuable to their team. Last year this was won by the defensive superstar Cale Makar, from the Colorado Avalanche, which made him the third player in the past ten years to win the trophy with the Avalanche. This year, the Calder race has been a tight one, with multiple players making a case for why they should win it, and even some notable mentions from goalies playing their first season in the NHL.
Calder Memorial Trophy Candidates
Alex Nedeljkovic – Carolina Hurricanes – Goalie
Alex Nedeljkovic of the Carolina Hurricanes has had an amazing season, as one of the best goalies in the league. He has managed to maintain a save percentage of .932, the highest in the league, as well as the lowest goals-against average at 1.90. To top it off, he put up three shutouts, after having stepped into the starting position while Petr Mrazek was recovering from a severe injury. Overall, the 25-year-old rookie has made himself a solid candidate for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which would see him being the first goalie to have won the award since Steve Mason in 2009.
Tim Stützle – Ottawa Senators – Center/Left Wing
Tim Stützle has been one of the more productive players of the Ottawa Senators from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and has shown a special talent, especially for a rookie. He has put up 29 points this season, with 12 goals and 17 assists. The player has proven invaluable to his team, being able to play anywhere in the Senators line-up, and excelling either at center or on the left-wing.
Stützle has shown solid poise and managed to stay out of the box without issue. He has shown that he is easily a top candidate for the Calder Memorial Trophy. Regardless of if he wins or not, the player will prove to be a solid asset to his team, and a likely large part of their future.
Nils Hoglander – Vancouver Canucks – Left Wing
Nils Hoglander has had a good first season in the league, although it was marred by cases of COVID-19 which lead to his team having to play a heavily condensed timeline. Regardless, he has put up some impressive figures, with 26 points in 53 games, as well as coming into his own as a real team player with the Vancouver Canucks. The player was also able to truly take on a leadership role, as many players on his team were either injured or deemed unfit to play.
Due to the circumstances, the player has filled many different slots and has come to be depended on by his team in ways that most rookies could only hope for. This player has truly made a name for himself and given himself a chance at winning the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Jason Robertson – Dallas Stars – Left Wing
Jason Robertson might be the dark horse forward of the bunch, leading the rookies in assists, as well as being second among the rookies in goals. The player in question has had an amazing first season with the Dallas Stars, contributing to their push for a playoff position. Although they didn’t make it into the playoffs, they still made a strong push for the position, largely thanks to this rookie. Arguably, this star forward has put himself in the front runnings for the Calder Memorial Trophy and could see his name on the award at the end of the season.
The player has allowed him to move from being a rookie to playing on the first forward line, as well as playing on the power-play unit and helping to create space and move the puck around in the offensive end and create pressure. This rookie moves fast and has silky hands in order to control play, and doesn’t look to be uncomfortable in any way, even looking to be a seasoned player in no time.
Kirill Kaprizov – Minnesota Wild – Left Wing
Kirill Kaprizov is the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy, having to lead all rookies in goals and points this season, as well as already playing as a top-six forward for his team, and proving to be an elite forward. He is one of the older players on the list, at 24-years-old, and was an absolute steal in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, going fifth round at 135th overall to the Minnesota Wild. He is a big part of why his team qualified for the playoffs this season, contributing three game-winning goals, on top of being the highest points contributor on his team with 51 points in 55 games.
Whether it be in regular play or pushing to score a goal on the power play, this player manages to make a difference and create space for himself or his teammates for some great plays. As well, he is able to help reclaim the puck in his defensive end and covers shooting lanes where possible. His speed and size help him outmaneuver other players on the ice almost effortlessly. This rookie is an invaluable member of his team and could look to be even more valuable as the Wild push to make it deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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