The Calder Trophy rewards the best rookie during the NHL regular season, voted for by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. It’s revealed during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it’s clear who the main candidates will be for the 2020-21 regular season.
While the majority of oddsmakersfavor Kirill Kaprizov, we will wait until the NHL Playoffs get underway until we know more. We will explore the various players that may get their hands on the award, apart from the young Russian superstar.
Kirill Kaprizov - Minnesota Wild (LW)
The 2021 award looks pretty clear-cut. Kaprizov doesn’t just have his hands on the Calder Trophy but will be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy having scored 51 points this season. With 27 goals and 24 assists in 54 games, he’s had one of the best rookie seasons for an offensive player in some time.
He scored three points, one goal, and two assists, on his NHL debut. While he started well, everybody expected him to slow up. But the young Russian just hasn’t stopped. His performances throughout the season have been a big part of why the Wild are one of the top 10 teams in the NHL.
One of our other young rookie Jason Robertson started to pick up his game mid-season, but all this did was push Kaprizov to play ever better. His presence has made the Wild a team that opponents must be aware of and he’s made them an entertaining team for the first time in a good few years.
The Calder has been touted as a one-horse race, but this is the guy who is raising many questions for oddsmakers and hockey fans. While the young Russian has been absolutely outstanding, Robertson’s stats are special as well. He’s picked up 43 points, with 16 goals and 27 assists, in 50 games.
At 21-years old he’s 3 years younger than Kaprizov and has been a major part of the Dallas Stars goals this season. Robertson’s production on the ice is something that has been missed from some of the senior players on the Stars’ roster.
With Seguin and Radulov out for injuries this season, there was a certain gap to be filled and the rookie Robertson has certainly contributed much more than the coaches could have imagined.
Alex Nedeljkovic - Carolina Hurricanes (Goaltender)
The 25-year old goaltender was brought in as an injury cover but has given the management a decision to make as we approach the Playoffs. Nedeljkovic has been staggeringly productive this season, with 23 games and 37 of a possible 44 points earned.
The Vezina Trophy looks like it’ll go to Andrei Vasilevskiy and he’ll be in with a chance to win the Hart Trophy. However, in the last 20 games leading up to the Playoffs, nobody can top Nedeljkovic’s .932 save percentage, nor can they beat his 1.90 goals-against average.
These kinds of stats cannot go unnoticed. While it feels like the two aforementioned outfield players are more likely to win the Calder, his consistency must be noted. He’s 7-2-2 against the Panthers, Lightning and Preds, showing he can perform against the best in the Central Division—Let’s see how he fairs against the leagues’ best.