Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/20/13 at 12:29 PM ET
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
It's not easy for a defenseman to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. Just ask the Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin, who wasn't even a finalist last season.
However, what Olli Maatta and the Pittsburgh Penguins are doing right now, a six-game winning streak with a defensive group decimated by injury, is the kind of thing that sticks in the memories of voters who turn in Calder ballots after the season. Maatta has been unbelievable and the Penguins won again Thursday night, 5-2 over Brodin and the Wild. Maatta had a goal and an assist, and was a plus-3. He skated 21:46 and continues to establish himself as one of the game's best young defensemen.
The Calder race is shaping up to be even tougher than last season. Nathan MacKinnon is cutting into Tomas Hertl's early rookie scoring lead, Valeri Nichushkin of the Dallas Stars is charging back into the picture, and even the Tampa Bay Lightning's Tyler Johnson deserves mention for his efforts while Steven Stamkos is out.
But considering Maatta's age and position, it's hard to top the effort he is turning in right now.
more views from the ESPN Insiders on the games last night...
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