Calder Trophy favorites include Kaprizov, Robertson – fr

Calder Trophy favorites include Kaprizov, Robertson – fr

Who was the best rookie in the NHL during the 2020-2021 regular season? This will be officially decided when the Calder Trophy, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is revealed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While the regular season doesn’t end until May 19, staff editors already have their nominees for the award.

Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov’s impact on the Wild should make him a slam dunk for the Calder Trophy and put him on the periphery of the Hart Trophy conversation as the NHL’s most valuable player. He was the best rookie since dropping the puck, scoring 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) in 54 games. He scored three points (one goal, two assists) in Minnesota’s season opener against the Los Angeles Kings, his NHL debut, and hasn’t slowed down. Kaprizov has gone without a point in consecutive games five times and never more than three consecutive games. His skills make him a must-have player and his production has helped the Wild become one of the top 10 teams in the NHL. When pushed by Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson in the Calder race, Kaprizov took his playing and production to another level. He changed the narrative around nature. They haven’t had a dynamic gaming star who couldn’t turn anything into something in the blink of an eye since striker Marian Gaborik joined them two decades ago. Kaprizov does that and he made the Wild one of the best and most entertaining teams in the NHL. – Dan Rosen, editor

Video: VGK @ MIN: Kaprizov scores the goal after the face-off

Alex Nedeljkovic, Hurricanes de la Caroline

How’s that for competent, which is the ultimate criteria for the Calder? Nedeljkovic has played 23 games (15-5-3) and won 37 of 44 possible points (80%) for the champions of the Discover Central division. Andrei Vasilevskiy, the favorite for the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL and among those considered for the Hart Trophy, is responsible for 76 percent of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s points. Of all the goalies who have played at least 20 games this season, none can exceed Nedeljkovic’s save percentage of .932 or his 1.90 goals-against average. The 25-year-old was drafted during the season as an injury cover, but could be an option in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs because his consistency has been remarkable. In 18 starts since March 1, Nedeljkovic has allowed two goals or less 14 times. He’s 7-2-2 against the Florida Panthers, Lightning and Nashville Predators, the other three Central Division qualifying teams. – Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Managing Editor

Jason Robertson, Stars de Dallas

The Calder is not a horse race, at least not for me. There is no doubt that Kaprizov has been exceptional this season, as has Robertson, who has scored 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 50 games. He is tied for second in points over the Stars with Roope Hintz behind Joe Pavelski (50). The 21-year-old, who the Stars selected in the second round (39th) of the 2017 NHL Draft, had time on the power play, where he scored six points (one goal, five assists). And the Stars needed Robertson’s production. Before Tyler Seguin, their top scorer last season with 50 points, returned on May 3 from off-season hip surgery. Before Alexandre Radulov played 11 games before undergoing end-of-season abdominal muscle surgery. Robertson has done more than fill a gap in the list. He contributed, learned, and earned Calder’s consideration. – Tracey Myers, rédactrice

Video: CAR @ DAL: Robertson returns a free puck in front

Igor Shesterkin, Rangers of New York

There is an easy answer to this question: Kaprizov. But we’re not interested in easy answers here, so let’s try another name for the size. It would be Shesterkin, who succeeded a legend of the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist, and amidst the enormous pressure that came with it, he was one of the best goalies in the MassMutal East Division. Shesterkin has started 31 games, going 16-14-3 with an GAA of 2.62 and save percentage of 0.916 (tied for 12th among goaltenders with at least 20 games played) behind a defense that is not exactly long in the tooth. He almost helped the Rangers clinch a playoff berth and consolidated in the net for a rising team. It’s not always easy to compare skaters and goalies, but although Kaprizov and Robertson have had some exceptional seasons, I’m going under the radar with Shesterkin. – Amalie Benjamin, editor-in-chief


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