Steve Mason Will Be This Year's Calder Trophy Winner: The Five Reasons Why

Kyle KloetzlyContributor IJanuary 14, 2009

It's not every day you see an article written about a Blue Jackets player who isn't named Nash, but Steve Mason is making a case to change the face of Columbus.

He's playing years ahead of his game, and he's bringing the rest of the Blue Jackets along for the ride.

If you haven't noticed, he's pretty good. But is he good enough to win this year's Calder Trophy?

Well, I've got five reasons why Mason WILL win this year's honor for the league's top rookie:


1. He's a Quick Learner 

Mason started the year recovering from knee surgery, causing him to miss the first month of action.

After a short stint with the Syracuse Crunch, he was called up to the big show when an injury caused Blue Jackets starter Pascal Leclaire to be placed on IR. 

Mason flew out of the gate like a superstar, winning his first three starts and six of his first nine, giving Columbus a new hope. He's playing as if he's been in the league for years, and he quickly nailed down the starting job, even after Leclaire returned.


2. His Resume Is Loaded

Now roughly halfway through the season, Mason is leading the NHL in GAA (1.80), save-percentage (.936), and shutouts (6). He had a streak of three straight shutouts in late December, and he's now won seven of his last nine games.

He's leading other top league netminders such as Roberto Luongo, Niklas Backstrom, and Tim Thomas, so why couldn't this guy make a case for the Vezina if his strong play continues? 

He already has a gold medal and MVP honors from the 2008 World Junior Championships and OHL goaltender of the year for '06-07, and now he has his sights on the Calder Trophy.


3. He's Re-Shaping Columbus

It's no secret that the Blue Jackets haven't exactly been a powerhouse since entering the league in 2000. They've yet to reach the postseason, and have yet to have a winning season, coming as close as 34-36-12 in '07-08. 

Columbus is currently 21-18-4, third in the central division, and eighth in the Western conference. With the strong play of their rookie netminder, they are in line to play playoff hockey for the first time.

Of course, you can't give all the credit to Mason; the Blue Jackets do have a nice supporting cast to Rick Nash this year. But Mason is certainly doing his part to contribute to Columbus' success. 


4. He's a Giant Killer

Nothing like a David and Goliath reference to add some spice to a young athlete's game.

A few teams and players in the league this year have stood up and set themselves apart from the rest, and Mason has been up to the challenge.

Mason sported a 47-save victory on Dec. 17 against Western conference powerhouse San Jose. He moved on to shut down the league's leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, on Dec. 27.

To cap it off, he shut down the high-powered offense, including Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, in a 45-save shutout victory on Jan. 9. 

This guy's the real deal.


5. He's in Good Company

In the last 20 years, four goalies have won the Calder Trophy: Andrew Raycroft, Evgeni Nabokov, Ed Belfour, and a guy named Martin Brodeur. 

I know we're only halfway through the season, but Mason's numbers right now are better than each of the above-mentioned.

With a lot of hockey left to play, his numbers could get better, and he could prove he deserves the honor of top rookie.

I would bet in a few years we could see Steve Mason's name on, dare I say it, the Stanley Cup. 


Who knows how guys like Kris Versteeg, Steven Stamkos, and Kyle Okposo will fare the rest of the season?

But I'm saying right now, Steve Mason will take his game to an All-Star level in the second half of the season, and he WILL win this year's Calder Trophy.


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