NHL Awards 2011: The Race for the Calder Trophy

Adam DavisCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2011

NHL Awards 2011: The Race for the Calder Trophy

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    The competition is always fierce for the Calder Trophy, the NHL's rookie of the year honor, and this season is no exception. Personally, I've always been a fan of Calder finalists being scored not only by their point totals, but by their positive affect on the team as a whole.

    In light of this, I've compiled a list of six Calder finalists who I think are deserving for their stats, just as much as their importance on the roster.

    And the nominees are...


    Logan Couture: San Jose Sharks

    Michael Grabner: New York Islanders.


    P.K. Subban: Montreal Canadiens.


    Sergei Bobrovsky: Philadelphia Flyers

    Corey Crawford: Chicago Blackhawks

    James Reimer: Toronto Maple Leafs.

Michael Grabner: New York Islanders

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    Let’s start with the skaters.

    I’m sure that the first question you would have about this list is the lack of rookie point leader Jeff Skinner. Well, as I said before, it’s not all about the stats, except for the ones that say he’s a -1 and has 40 penalty minutes.

    Couture and Grabner are only four and five points behind him and their other numbers really tell the story of their place in this list.

    Michael Grabner’s stats are very similar to those of Couture, but what helps him stand out is the fact that he plays for the 13th placed Islanders. This year, Grabner has really shined on a team filled with serious potential by leading all rookies with 31 goals.

    Goals are great, but his main successes this year come on the in the less-famous stat columns. Grabner is a plus 17, has three game-winning goals, five short-handed goals and only 10 penalty minutes.

    Those four amazing feats are enough to warrant him recognition for the Calder, even without the goals and the disadvantage of playing for the Islanders.

Logan Couture: San Jose Sharks

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    Couture is a plus 15 so far this year, granted playing for the Sharks that’s not too tough, and has an amazing eight game-winning goals (a feat which puts him sixth in the entire NHL).

    He has managed to put up 49 points for a very solid and deep San Jose team, and has played 71 games this year averaging almost 18 minutes a game. It’s tough to make a splash as a rookie on an established veteran team, and Couture has been doing a great job.

P.K. Subban: Montreal Canadiens

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    The lone defenseman on the list is Montreal’s feisty star P.K. Subban. Subban is definitely the best example of how you don’t need to be an offensive minded player to warrant a Calder nomination. His 104 penalty minutes alone are enough to prove that.

    Subban plays in one of the most intense hockey cities in the league, and has stepped up to the task. He plays over 22 minutes a game, putting him third amongst all rookies (with a difference of 17 seconds between him and John Carlson in first).

    He has six power play goals and a game winner. Subban is definitely not at the top of everyone’s Calder list, but he’s a big reason why Montreal is playing the way they are and brings a fire to the rink that few rookies can even imagine.

Sergei Bobrovsky: Philadelphia Flyers

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    Now we head to the goaltenders. All three share a common bond: they started the year as backups (or third string in Reimer’s case) and are now the no-doubt starters for their clubs.

    Sergei Bobrovsky is a name that very few people had heard of before this season, and even into December he was still “that rookie goalie in Philly.” He definitely has changed all that by putting up a 26-11-5 record and helped the Flyers to earn their first-place spot in the East.

    The real question with him is if he has what it takes to win in the playoffs, and bring Philly back to the Finals, or if his season stats are only a fluke.

Corey Crawford: Chicago Blackhawks

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    Over in the mid-west, Corey Crawford has stolen the show as the Blackhawks go-to goalie. He is 29-14-5 with a 2.28 goals against average, has four shutouts and put up an eight-game win streak a few weeks ago.

    If that’s not the reason that the Blackhawks are 5th in the West after falling as low as 12th, then I don’t know what is. Crawford has played in more games than any rookie goalie this season, and still is in the top-10 in save percentage. He’s definitely deserving of some Calder recognition.

James Reimer: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Last but not least, we reach Optimus Reim. Leafs fans have been filled with despair for 44 years and are always looking for someone to step up and shoulder the intensity that comes with being a hockey player in Toronto.

    Enter James Reimer. The goalie started off the year in the AHL and was brought up when starting goalie Jean-Sebastein Giguere and backup Jonas Gustavsson couldn’t quite do it for the quickly fading Leafs.

    Even though he has only played in 29 games this season, Reimer is 16-7-4 with 3 shutouts and a .925 save percentage. If the Leafs do end up making the playoffs this year, they owe a big thank you to their rookie netminder.

Who Will Be the NHL Rookie of the Year?

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    Considering the league chooses three finalists for the Calder Trophy, I’ll cut down this list even further in the next two and a half weeks and come to final predictions at the season’s end.

    Until then, we can only speculate about which stars will continue to shine, or fall under the pressure of a full rookie campaign. Should be fun.

    So, there’s the breakdown. Who will be the one to pick up where Sabres' defenseman Tyler Myers left off? Who knows.