As we enter the final week of the NHL season there are some all-important awards to be handed out, as well as a stretch of fierce competition for the Stanley Cup. A question on everyone’s mind though has to be, who will win the title of Rookie of the Year? The most recent winner was Kirill Kaprizov, who shocked many in his rookie NHL season, and there will certainly seem to be a few candidates in this year’s rookie class that have been surprising as well. So who could take home the coveted trophy?
Moritz Seider – Detroit Red Wings Defenseman
Seider has to be everyone’s favourite for the Calder this year, after an absolutely amazing first season in the league, he looks less like a rookie and more like a seasoned player who is more than comfortable playing in the NHL. Seider has 49 points this season which places him at fourth in rookie scoring, with two games left to play. This would be an impressive feat for any rookie to get involved so much on the ice but from a defenseman, it is especially impressive. The player has become an integral member of his team and landed himself on the top line pairing with the Red Wings despite the presence of a lot of other players with a longer tenure in the league, including Filip Hronek who was expected to be on the first defensive line to help him build and progress his career. Overall this player has a bright future in the NHL and has already made an impact with some amazing plays in the league to keep his team out of the bottom of the standings.
Trevor Zegras – Anaheim Ducks Center
Zegras came into the season as a known star factor, and it was clearly on display with his amazing performance this season. The 21-year-old has been playing a strong game since he entered the league, and with his current captain Ryan Getzlaf retiring, there’s a chance for the player to move up the lines and take on the role of the first-line center. The young center has put up 58 points in his first 82-game season. Overall the young center has shocked the world with just how much poise he has, and has done well to prove to critics, such as John Tortorella, that he is more than just showmanship, and that when it is called for he can dig in deep and play a game with some grit. From his amazing goal in the All-Star skills competition to two Michigan goals and a Michigan pass assist, this player still has a lot to show fans in seasons to come.
Michael Bunting – Toronto Maple Leafs, Left Wing
The oldest of the players on this list, there is a lot of debate over if Bunting will actually be in consideration for the title of rookie of the year. The huge point in his favour is that the player currently leads the league in rookie points with 63 shocking everyone with his performance this season, as well as being second in both rookie assists and rookie goals. Bunting has made an impact on the Leafs that cannot be overstated, as he has fit in on the first line, taking over for the hole that was left by the departure of Zach Hyman to the Edmonton Oilers. On top of his slotting into that spot perfectly, his point total is higher than Hyman has ever achieved in a single season. Bunting is playing alongside two of the hot young talents in the league with the Leafs and provides the grit that the Leafs’ first line needs in order to protect two-star players, as well as get into the dirty spaces to create space, and draw away opposing players to keep that space wide open. Overall, the player certainly deserves consideration for the Calder this season, much as fans of other teams around the league might try and use his age to disqualify him.
While there are many rookies deserving of the Calder Memorial Trophy, only one of them can take home the trophy. Who do you think could take it home? You can see our earlier recap of the Calder Candidates here, and stick around for more predictions before the NHL Awards.
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