With two months to go left in the NHL season, award debates are gonna grow hotter and hotter. So far this season, the most hotly debated award has been the Calder Trophy, AKA the Rookie of the Year. This season has loads of young talent having breakout rookie seasons. Detroit Red Wings winger Lucas Raymond, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras, and Florida Panthers center Anton Lundell are just three of the many names who have come up for the award. As heavy as the debate has been, there should only be one player who should be receiving any serious consideration right now. That is Red Wings defenseman, Moritz Seider.
The Numbers Alone Should Say Enough
Often when people debate who should win the Calder, they resort to who has the most points. Taking into account what position he plays, Seider should easily take that. His 39 points are tied for 3rd with Zegras, a forward, and is just one point behind Maple Leafs Michael Bunting and three points behind Raymond; both also forwards. To play as a defenseman and be in that position over 50 games into the season just shows how much he’s contributing on the offensive end. His ability to turn defence into offence especially has stood out.
He also leads all rookies in assists and it isn’t close. He has 34 while the next closest, Raymond, has just 27. His playmaking ability has been phenomenal, especially on the power-play. He has more power-play assists (14) than any other rookie has power-play points total. He has quarterbacked the Red Wings power-play all season and has a point on 64% of all Red Wings goals that come with the man advantage.
Lastly, while he only has five goals all year, his goals have come at crucial times. He’s tied for second amongst rookies with three game-winning goals, two of which came in overtime. He has frequently come up big in big moments and as a 20-year-old defenseman it’s extremely impressive and alone should put him at the front of the Calder Trophy race.
Already Elite Defenseman
He is already playing as good if not better offensively than all the forwards in this draft. And as impressive as Seider has been, the best part of his game is on the defensive end. His ability to read the puck and the body at the same time is already one of the best in the league. He rarely makes mistakes and when he does, he frequently fixes them immediately. With that ability paired with his 6’4″, 200-pound frame, he has already become one of the most feared hitters in the league.
It’s not just the physical play though. His ability to make plays on the puck whether it’s on a man’s stick or coming through the air is elite. He is nearly always in the right position and if he’s not, he’s quick enough and smart enough to get himself there. There are two different analytical graphics that show just exactly how good Seider has been this year. The first graphic comes from @JFreshHockey, who analyzes projected Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in comparison to the rest of the league at their position.
To be in the 97th percentile of all defensemen 53 games into your NHL career is just insane, and puts him in elite company. Those are the types of analytics you see for players who receive not just Calder votes, but Norris Trophy votes. What’s even more impressive is who he has been stuck playing with the majority of the season. Due to the Red Wings’ lack of a strong left-handed defenseman, Seider has been playing the majority of his 5v5 minutes with Danny DeKeyser, and this comparison from Evolving-Hockey.com is staggering.
For two defensemen who play on the same defensive pairing to have that much of a difference is frankly insane, and it shows just how good Seider is. That he is able to play that well while having a liability on the blue line next to him constantly is the biggest testament to just how good this kid is on the back end.
While Raymond has played on a forward line next to Dylan Larkin, Zegras has played with Troy Terry, and Bunting has played with Auston Matthews, all three of which are in the top 15 in the league in goals, the only constant for Moritz Seider has been really bad left-handed defenseman play. And through all of that, he’s still been the most impactful player of any rookie this season and it really isn’t that close. As of right now, the debate should be over. Moritz Seider should be your 2021-22 Calder Trophy winner.
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