by PuckStopsHere on 10/22/14 at 04:59 PM ET
In the early days of the season, I am actively trying to pick out leaders for the various NHL awards. I want to see how often the early leader wins or remains a contender come season's end. While I am yet to pick a Hart Trophy leader, I have picked a Vezina Trophy leader. Today I am picking an early season Calder Trophy leader in Tanner Pearson of the Los Angeles Kings.
Pearson is the top scorer on the Stanley Cup champion Kings. He has seven points and a +7 +/- rating in only six games played and he has done this in moderate ice time of a little over 12 minutes a game.
Pearson was passed over in the 2010 and 2011 entry drafts. It wasn't until 2012 when he was selected in the draft. He had been the top scorer on the Barrie Colts with 91 points. This allowed him to be the final pick of the first round in 2012. He spent his next season in the AHL but got to play one playoff game. Last season was spent mostly in the AHL but he got a significant NHL play. He played 25 games in the regular season last year and 24 more in their Stanley Cup run. That makes Pearson a very experienced rookie.
A rookie is a player who has more than 25 games played in any season and playoff games do not count. Pearson played the exact limit of games in the regular season and 25 more in two playoff seasons. While he was a solid contributor during that time, he hasn't scored at the rate that he has this season. In fact his seven points so far this season matches his regular season output last year.
As long as Pearson keeps scoring at this rate, he will likely be a runaway rookie of the year. That may become possible if he is given more ice time per game, but he hasn't shown this ability in his earlier NHL games. He has shown himself to be a bit of a slower developer than many as he was passed over in the draft twice. Maybe his development is continuing into his twenties and he will become a top level NHLer.
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