by PuckStopsHere on 01/13/11 at 03:12 PM ET
In November, I picked Sergei Bobrovsky of the Philadelphia Flyers as the Calder Trophy leader. At that time he had a .926 saves percentage and a 2.19 GAA. Since then Bobrovsky’s numbers have fallen a bit to a .917 saves percentage and a 2.55 GAA. He has not played as frequently as he did in the early season, as Brian Boucher has taken over a significant portion of the playing load. This has allowed other candidates to enter the race.
The top scorers among rookies are Jeff Skinner and Logan Couture. While they are having strong rookie seasons, they are both well back of the top scorers in the league. This doesn’t make them the standout rookies that typically win the Calder Trophy, despite the fact it appears most of the media is behind one of them.
Goaltender candidates include Corey Crawford and Anders Lindback. Both are playing quite well and are beginning to approach Bobrovsky in terms of games played, but Bobrovsky’s Calder candidacy is weakening because of his drop in games played.
I think the strongest rookie, who has been worth the most win shares for his team, is defenceman John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. He seems to not be anyone’s first candidate for the rookie of the year because he lacks outstanding offensive numbers. That is not to say that 17 points in 44 games is not strong. That places him third among rookie defencemen this season (behind Cam Fowler of Anaheim and Kevin Shattenkirk of Colorado). It is his defensive success with significant defensive responsibility that makes him the Calder Trophy leader this season.
Carlson leads his Washington team with a +12 +/- rating. Washington has been using John Carlson and Karl Alzner as their number one shutdown defensive line. It is Carlson that is carrying the load on this line. Alzner has spent the last two seasons splitting his time between the AHL and NHL and has not shown the same NHL skillset as Carlson.
John Carlson is playing a significant defensive role and he is doing it very well. He is carrying a lesser defence partner as he does this. He is also putting up a respectable offensive showing. This makes John Carlson the leading rookie this season. He should be considered the Calder Trophy leader at this point, but his lack of a high point total has largely left him overlooked.
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