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Stuart Skinner Calder Trophy Season?

When the Edmonton Oilers signed Jack Campbell to a five-year, $25 million contract this offseason, the intention was for him to be the primary starter. But 12 games into the season, the plans to start Campbell appear to be changing with the potential for a Stuart Skinner Calder year.

The Numbers

Through his first eight appearances, Campbell has a 4.20 GAA, .874 SV%, and a GSAA of -7.3. That last stat is the third worst in the league.

Enter Stuart Skinner. The Oilers backup was presumed to take on maybe at most the 40 side of a 60/40 split in games in his first real shot at a regular NHL spot. He’s been on the verge of cracking the NHL lineup full-time for a couple of seasons, but was stuck behind the previous tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen for all but 13 games last season.

Skinner, however, has basically stolen the spotlight in the early stages of this 2022-23 as Campbell struggles to find his game and fit in with the Oilers. So far, he has a stellar .944 SV%, 2.10 GAA, and 6.9 GSAA. These are the numbers of an elite-tier goalie, though it has only been a handful of games for him.

But his show-stopping performance has stood out. Both on the statline and in-game as Skinner, in the games he plays, is a crucial force keeping the Oilers in it. With the early season performance, it begs the question, is Stuart Skinner Calder Trophy worthy?

[freshpress-poll id="161795"]

Goalies Winning the Calder Trophy

It’s important to consider the rarity with which NHL goalies win the Calder Trophy. In its history, only 16 goalies have won the award, most of those coming early on in its life. Only two have won it in the last 20 years, Andrew Raycroft and Steve Mason, the latter being the most recent, having won in 2008-09.

The statistical and workload burden that it would take for a rookie goalie to win is often too significant to overcome. Mason, for reference, played 61 games with a 2.29 GAA, a .916 SV%, and a league leading 10 shutouts.

In fact, the only other goalies who have been nominated for the Calder since Mason won in 2008-09 are Alex Nedeljkovic in 2020-21 (23 GP, 1.90 GAA, .932 SV%), Jordan Binnington in 2018-19 (32 GP, 1.89 GAA, .927 SV%), and Jimmy Howard in 2009-10 (63 GP, 2.26 GAA, .924 SV%).

So it is now quite the rare occurrence for a goalie to make a big enough splash to get serious consideration for the Calder Trophy.

Is Stuart Skinner Calder Trophy Worthy?

Listen, yes it has only been a handful of games. But so far, his on-ice performance is stellar and his statline matches up with the other goalies who have gained serious Calder Trophy consideration in the past 15 years. The only thing missing is the games played.

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Currently, Skinner is on pace to play in approximately 35 games. So, more than Nedeljkovic and around the same as Binnington. It puts Skinner in a position where, if he were to keep up his current performance, even regress a bit as would be expected as a .944 SV% is not sustainable over the full course of a season, he could very easily end up with a comparable statline to the St. Louis Blues rookie in his standout season in 2018-19.

Skinner’s current Save Percentage Above Expected, according to Moneypuck, is .017. So he’d likely fall to around .925-.930, which again is right in line with other goalies who have gained Calder Trophy consideration.

One last hurdle to overcome in Stuart Skinner Calder Trophy discussions is the strength of the field this season. Matthew Beniers, Shane Pinto, Mason Mctavish, Owen Power, and Cole Perfetti are just some of the high profile rookies headlining this season’s class of first-year NHL players. And even among rookie goalies, Logan Thompson of the Vegas Golden Knights has a similar statline with more games played, meaning he would likely gain consideration over Skinner.

Ultimately, if Skinner continues playing at the level he is at right now and hits the 35 game mark he is on pace for, or even more if he continues to outplay his counterpart Campbell and takes over more responsibility in the crease, he should garner some serious consideration for the Calder Trophy based on how dominant a force he is on the ice.

Oilers fans, do you think there is a case to be made for Stuart Skinner Calder Trophy consideration this season? Drop a comment down below with your answer!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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