The youth entering the NHL in the last few years is unreal. We are seeing a new generation and type of talent that makes the game so fun to watch. The amount of skill, talent, and stickhandling ability some players possess is jaw-dropping. Naturally, the race for the Calder Trophy has become one of the most exciting storylines in the NHL. And this season, we get the pleasure of watching some developing elite talent at every position. So, as we are now just over 20 games into the season, let’s check out some Calder Trophy Favourites for the 2022-23 season.
Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights
At this point of the season, Logan Thompson might be the Calder Trophy favourite. It is rare that a rookie becomes the full-time starter, but he is that guy for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Through 17 appearances thus far, Thompson is 12-5 with two shutouts, a .920 SV%, and a 2.54 GAA. Of goalies with more than five games played, his save percentage is 11th overall and his goals-against average is 13th.
Thompson was noted as a dark horse candidate in some preseason Calder Trophy favourites lists and now has emerged as possibly the main favourite.
The biggest barrier will be the difficulty goalies have winning the award, something that was in Stuart Skinner’s way to being a Calder contender earlier this season. The last goaltender to win the Calder was Steve Mason back in 2008-09, with 61 games played, a .916 SV%, and 2.29 GAA. Since then, only 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%) have been nominated for the Calder Trophy.
Thompson’s numbers are comparable not noticeably worse than those of Mason, making his case a bit difficult. But the role he is playing with the Golden Knights, combined with the team’s success partly as a result of his play, gives him some traction as a Calder Trophy favourite.
Matthew Beniers, Seattle Kraken
Of course, the leading scorer amongst rookies will find himself as a Calder Trophy favourite. Matthew Beniers sits atop the rookie scoring leaderboard with 21 points in 24 games. He is playing a significant role for the Kraken, who find themselves in a significantly better position this season as they challenge for the Pacific Division lead.
Beniers is fourth among Kraken forwards in total ice time per game and gets a significant amount of powerplay time per game as well. He is second on the team in goals with 10, though he is shooting at just over 20% right now which is not typically a sustainable percentage.
He is currently on pace for about 70 points on the season, which is right in line with other forwards who have won the Calder Trophy over the past decade, giving Beniers a strong case as a Calder Trophy favourite.
Cole Perfetti, Winnipeg Jets
Cole Perfetti has been a highly anticipated prospect since being drafted at 10 by the Winnipeg Jets back in 2020. His offensive instincts and hockey IQ are incredible and he is only getting better as the season goes on. Right now, he sits tied for second in rookie scoring with 16 points in 23 games.
And he is only getting better as the season goes on. Perfetti started with eight points in his first 16 games but has seven in his last six up to now. Impressively, he is doing this in an incredibly sheltered role. He is only averaging about 15 minutes of ice time per game and gets some minutes on the powerplay but he is definitely not on the top unit.
Perfetti shows all the signs of someone who will explode at some point. He only has four goals and has a shooting percentage just shy of 10%, so a bit of an increase in goals could be expected once he finds his shot at the NHL level.
Thus far, Perfetti has been a huge part of helping the Jets successfully navigate this transitional period in their leadership group.
Jake Sanderson, Ottawa Senators
Jake Sanderson may not be as flashy as some of the players above him on the list, but it is extremely difficult to find a rookie defender who can provide as stabilizing and consistent a presence as the Ottawa Senators rookie.
He has one goal and 11 points in 24 games, but averages over 21 minutes of ice time per game, good for second among rookies as well as second among Senators players. For Sanderson to take on such a huge role in his rookie season is a testament to the overall quality of his play, especially as a defender seeing tough minutes.
It’s been hard at times for Sanderson to adjust to defending against NHL teams, especially on a team that’s struggled as much as the Senators have this season. As the team settles down around him, and he adjusts to the NHL game, he will easily become one of the most stable and reliable defenders in the league, and hopefully, find a bit more of an offensive or playmaking touch.
Those are four of the most prominent Calder Trophy favourites so far in 2022-23. Who would you add to this list? Drop a comment down below!
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