Top Candidates for Calder Trophy (as of April 26)
1) Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA): Leads rookies in goals (14) and points (28), has excelled in a top-six role
2) Brendan Gallagher (MTL): 26 points, 13:55 TOI/game, strong two-way play, top-six role
3) Brandon Saad (CHI): Earned first-line minutes, solid two-way game, special-teams success, 27 points
4) Jonas Brodin (MIN): Playing first-pairing minutes with Suter, strong defensively, 11 points
5) Jake Muzzin (LAK): Playing great defense in a top-four role, ranks third among rookie D-men in scoring, 17:54 TOI/game
The lack of a dominant rookie scorer has made this year's Calder Trophy race one of the most compelling ones in years.
There are many worthy candidates and Huberdeau should be at the top of the list. He has been spectacular this season for a Panthers team that is at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The young forward leads all rookies in points and goals, and he has also impressed on the power play.
Gallagher's impressive offensive production for the Canadiens and quality performances against top teams has made him a top candidate. He has five points in seven games versus the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins and also ranks T-1st among rookies in goals scored with 14.
The third finalist will likely be Brodin or Saad, who have both played important roles on two of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Brodin has given the Wild a much-needed top-four defenseman and a player who is reliable at both ends of the ice on a consistent basis. It's tough for rookie defenseman to excel on a playoff contender, but Brodin has adjusted very quickly to the NHL level. He's playing 23:10 minutes per game, which is an impressive number for a rookie.
Saad's impressive play has earned him minutes on the team's top line alongside superstars Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. The young winger contributes offensively, features in a role on special teams and plays responsible defense with his physical play. He could develop into one of the better two-way wingers in the NHL over the next few seasons.