Hockey

Lucas Raymond: Calder Trophy Candidate?

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Is Lucas Raymond the latest Detroit Red Wing in the history of the franchise to be a favorite in the race for the Calder Trophy? The left-winger is in second place on the team in scoring behind only Tyler Bertuzzi with 6 goals and 8 assists in 13 games played at the time of writing this. The Red Wings franchise has only had five players win the Calder Trophy in its storied history. Riley McPherson wrote before the season that Raymond would be one of the breakout stars for the team.

According to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s website, “the Calder Memorial Trophy, named after former National Hockey League president Frank Calder, is awarded to the National Hockey League player judged to be the most proficient in his first season” in a poll by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The Calder Trophy is named after Frank Calder, the former president of the National Hockey League who purchased the trophy each year until his death in 1943.

Raymond is not the only young player on the Red Wings that has shined during the 2021-22 NHL season so far. Defenseman Moritz Seider has surprised the hockey world in much the same way that he was surprised when he was drafted sixth overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft. Seider began to surprise people when he was loaned to Rögle BK of the Swedish Hockey League. He was loaned to Rögle BK because the AHL season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the 2021-22 NHL season, it was thought that Raymond would begin playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate for the Red Wings. However, a surprising preseason and training camp left general manager Steve Yzerman with little choice but to include Raymond on the opening night roster. Our Riley McPherson wrote that this is a sign that the “Yzerplan” is working.

Detroit Red Wings Calder Trophy winners

The last Red Wings player to win the Calder Memorial trophy was goaltender Roger Crozier. The year? 1964! To say that it has been a while since the last Red Wing won the award is an understatement. Right-winger Ron Ellis of the Toronto Maple Leafs was the runner-up to Crozier in the Calder Trophy race that year. The oddity is the fact that Ellis only played one game for the Maple Leafs during that 1963-64 NHL season.

Glenn Hall won the Calder Trophy for the Red Wings as a rookie goaltender nine years earlier. This was also in a brief “audition” playing for the team. Hall only played six games for the Red Wings during the 1952-53 season. Yes, there is a learning curve when it comes to earning a spot in the NHL, but playing in only one game and earning rookie of the year honors is surprising. Both Seider and Raymond have been more integral to the Red Wings in 2021-22.

Arguably the most famous goaltender in Red Wings franchise history, Terry Sawchuk won the Calder Trophy in 1950-51. His record during that season was 44-13-13 and his goals-against average was 1.97. This is the season in which Sawchuk replaced Harry Lumley who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Sawchuk was one of three future Hall of Fame goaltenders on the team at that time, including Lumley and Hall. The Red Wings have had a rich history of goaltenders throughout the years.

Born on April 15, 1920, Jim McFadden was the second oldest Calder Trophy winner at the age of 27. The center from Belfast, Ireland scored 24 goals and added 24 assists for the Red Wings in 60 games played during this season. This was the season after McFadden made his debut with the Red Wings in the playoffs, playing four games. McFadden would win a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1949.

Carl Voss was the first winner of the Calder Trophy during the 1932-33 NHL season. During this season Voss scored 8 goals and added 16 assists in 48 games played for the New York Rangers.  Beyond that, Voss was a Stanley Cup champion, scoring the cup-winning goal for the Blackhawks against the Maple Leafs, in 1938. Voss was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1974.

Red Wings Calder Trophy contenders

The Red Wings also have a goaltender that is eligible for the Calder Trophy during the 2021-22 NHL season. Alex Nedeljkovic was acquired by the team from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Jonathan Bernier and a third-round draft pick in the 2021 draft. Why would the Hurricanes trade a Calder Trophy eligible goaltender in exchange for a veteran goaltender? At only $737,500, the salary cap hit for NedelJkovic for the 2019-20 season was minimal.

The fact is that the Hurricanes did not want to bring a contract dispute with Nedeljkovic to an arbitrator. The two sides were $2 million apart in what they thought Nedeljkovic was worth to the Hurricanes franchise. The franchise must have thought that they could find another young goaltender to bring into the fold that could replicate the results that Nedeljkovic has put up in his young NHL career. Frederik Andersen has replaced Nedeljkovic as the starter in the net for the Hurricanes.

This is especially given that Nedeljkovic’s sample size with the Hurricanes is small. In only 23 games played Nedeljkovic had a .932 save percentage and goals saved above expected of 13.25. Goals saved above expected or GSAx is a statistic that is used to evaluate how many goals a goalie saved above what was expected of him. Nedeljkovic ranked third in GSAx for goalies during the 2020-21 season.

The NHL only had six teams in the league during the years that Crozier, Hall et al played for the Red Wings. Four of the “original six” teams in the NHL made the playoffs during this era before This is in stark difference to the 32 teams that are in the league starting in the 2021-22 season. There were fewer rookies that were in contention to win the Calder Trophy. The fact that Raymond and Seider are both in contention, albeit early in the season, for this prestigious award is surprising, to say the least.

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