Top 5 Candidates to Be Named the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 2012-13

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2012

Top 5 Candidates to Be Named the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 2012-13

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    One of the most exciting trophy races of the 2012-13 NHL season will be the battle for the Calder Trophy, which is awarded each season to the rookie of the year.

    Only three defensemen have won the Calder since 1990, but there is one blueliner who could take home the award next year.

    Let's look at the top five candidates for the 2013 Calder Trophy.

5) Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

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    New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider will have a great chance to win the Calder Trophy next season.

    Marian Gaborik's injury could result in Kreider getting more ice time for the Rangers. Regardless of who's healthy, Kreider should see some time on the Blueshirts power play, where his shooting and skating skills will be on full display.

    Playing in New York will also give him plenty of exposure when it comes time to vote for the award.

    Kreider is likely going to be among the leaders in rookie scoring, which will help him become a finalist for the Calder.

4) Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins

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    Dougie Hamilton's offensive skills have many Bruins fans hoping that he becomes a Ray Bourque-like scoring machine. Even though it will take him some time to adjust to the NHL, there's no question that he will rack up plenty of points.

    The Boston power play is embarrassing at times, so it's inevitable that Hamilton finds himself on the first or second unit at some point before the new year.

    Without a superstar offensive player, the Bruins rely on a total team effort to score goals. This means Hamilton, like the other Boston defensemen, will be relied on to provide offense.

    If Hamilton leads all rookie defensemen in scoring, he could become the third defenseman to win the Calder since 2000.

3) Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

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    His skating ability is phenomenal, and he could be a real weapon for the Panthers on the power play. The 19-year-old prospect will also benefit from playing on a team with veteran leadership.

    With enough ice time, Huberdeau could be a scoring machine for Florida and have a shot to lead all rookies in scoring. Doing that would make him a near-lock to be named a finalist for the Calder.

    The Panthers should expect Huberdeau to score at least 50 points next season.

2) Sven Bartschi, Calgary Flames

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    The Calgary Flames are desperate for scoring after finishing 24th in goals per game last season, which will give Sven Bartschi a great opportunity to become a top-six forward for the team this year.

    Expect Bartschi to receive a ton of ice time on the Flame power play, which has the potential to be a real strength of the team.

    Anything less than 20 goals and 45 points would be disappointing for Bartschi, who will have all the chances he needs to shine.

1) Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild

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    Mikael Granlund is going to give the Minnesota Wild an instant goal-scoring boost this season. He's a confident player who understands his talents and how to best use them.

    Even though Granlund could lead all rookies in goals next season, he's much more than a goal scorer. His unselfishness and ability to make pinpoint passes will give him the opportunity to rack up a ton of assists.

    Granlund will also benefit on the Wild power play, where he could team up with offensive stars such as Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Dany Heatley.

    Choosing to remain in Finland last season really helped Granlund earn some more experience and get stronger. He is the favorite for the Calder Trophy heading into the 2012-13 season.