Rookie Of Year Predictions NHL
Calder Cup Candidates Update
By Angelo Montilla
Step aside Patrik Laine, there’s a new frontrunner in the Calder Trophy race.
Rising star Auston Matthews is showing the world why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, as the Leafs prospect is now within striking distance of taking over the lead in rookie scoring.
It’s only matter of time now before Matthews catches Laine, who suffered a suspected concussion and will miss an extended period of time.
Here are five Calder Trophy candidates, with odds courtesy of Bodog.
1. Auston Matthews (-150)
There was a point this season where Matthews struggled to find the back of the net, going 13 games without scoring a goal. It had many wondering if Matthews could handle the pressure of playing in a hockey centric city like Toronto.
Matthews silenced those critics as he’s scored 14 goals since snapping out of that lengthy slump on Nov. 23. Matthews leads all rookies in shots with 140 and is tied with Patrik Laine with four game-winning goals. Matthews is on pace to net 40 goals in his rookie campaign, putting him in the lead to win the Calder Trophy.
2. Patrik Laine (+150)
The Winnipeg Jets star forward drops to No. 2 not based on his play, but rather what Matthews has done in the last two months.
Laine’s production slipped slightly, but the Finnish sniper has still posted 21 goals, which is tied for the rookie lead with Matthews. Laine is due to miss some time after being on the receiving end of a bone-crunching hit, but online sportsbook Bodog still gives the Jets winger +150 odds of taking home the Calder Trophy. Laine, who tops all first-year players with 37 points, has also posted a rookie-leading 18.9 shooting percentage.
3. Zach Werenski (+450)
What would a Calder Trophy race be without a defenseman in the thick of things? The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to turn heads in the Eastern Conference and much of that is because offensive defenseman Zach Werenski.
The puck-moving rear-guard leads all defensemen in scoring with 25 points in 38 games and is tied for the rookie lead in power-play points with 15.. Coming from the NCAA, it’ll be interesting to see if Werenski can survive the rigors of a full 82-game season. If the Calder Trophy was handed out today, there’s no doubt Werenski would be a legitimate candidate.
4. Matt Murray (+750)
Success came early for the Penguins’ No. 1 goaltender, who won the Stanley Cup in 2016. But having not met the league’s minimum games played made him eligible for the Calder Trophy this season. He certainly hasn’t disappointed, either, as Murray is among the league leaders in goals against average (2.18) and save percentage (.928).
There aren’t other rookie goaltenders that was challenging Murray, who has posted an impressive 13-3-1 record in just his second season in the league. It’s a long shot, but Bodog gives Murray +750 odds of taking home the Calder Trophy.
5. Mitch Marner (+1000)
It’s rare for two players on the same team to be in contention for the Calder Trophy but that is just the case for the rebuilding Maple Leafs. Any other year, Mitch Marner would be a no-brainer for rookie of the year, but in a group of highly talented prospects, Marner has his work cut out for him.
The Leafs’ winger sits third in rookie scoring with 32 points in 39 games played. Much like Matthews and Laine, Marner takes a high percentage of shots and sits third in that department with 108 total shots on goal. Keep an eye on Marner to make a move up this list by season’s end.