Some teams will be using free agency to upgrade their teams, however some already have in house improvements. Every year there are a number of rookies who join their teams and make an immediate impact. Kirill Kaprizov is one of the best examples of these players, scoring 27 goals in his rookie season and winning the Calder Trophy. There are a number of rookies that will be full time NHL players this season who could also be potential Calder Trophy candidates.
Spencer Knight, G, Florida Panthers
With Chris Driedger joining the Seattle Kraken, 20 year old Spencer Knight will fill his role as the second goalie. Knight was taken 13th overall in the 2019 draft and has shown incredible promise as a goalie in the NHL. He’s a great athlete who’s also very intelligent when it comes to positioning and challenging the shooter. He’s had success everywhere he’s played, most notably putting up a 1.63 GAA for team USA in the world juniors.
Knight got a taste of NHL action last year playing in six games, two of which were in the playoffs. In those few games he proved that he’s got what it takes to make it in the NHL. The only thing in his way is Sergei Bobrovsky, who he’ll have to split time with. But if Knight puts up numbers similar to his world juniors performance last year, he’ll force his way into the Calder conversation.
Owen Power, D, Buffalo Sabres
This past year has been miserable for the Buffalo Sabres for a variety of reasons. But the one thing they can take solace in is winning the draft lottery and selecting Owen Power. Power has a massive frame standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 214 pounds. And with that frame he thrives at all aspects of the game. He’s really mobile for his size, and his tremendous playmaking ability on both sides of the puck.
On a Sabres team that is going to be devoid of much talent, Power has the opportunity to make a huge impact in his first year. Working with another first overall pick in Rasmus Dahlin is sure to help him as well. The only thing that might prevent him from winning a Calder this year is if he returns to school. He has not committed to coming to the NHL yet and it’s possible he returns to Michigan for one more year. But if he joins the NHL, he’s a leading candidate to win the Calder trophy.
Cole Caufield, RW, Montreal Canadiens
Cole Caufield played a significant role in the Canadiens run to the Stanley Cup Finals. After joining the team in the Maple Leafs series, he was a mainstay throughout the rest of the postseason. He finished the postseason with four goals and eight assists. Caufield has been touted as an elite goal scorer, which he’ll have a full chance to display as a regular starter this year. What’s even more promising about Caufield is his overall offensive playmaking he displayed during the postseason. He showed that he doesn’t need to be scoring the puck to make an impact on the offensive end. His experience playing with the team in the postseason should help him get off to a fast start in regular season action. This experience and his guaranteed role in the top six make him a strong candidate to win the Calder in his first full season.
Quinton Byfield, C, Los Angeles Kings
Byfield was the second pick in the 2020 draft right after Alexis Lafreniere. Byfield is a tremendous talent who is going to have a big role with the Kings this season. Like the previously mentioned Owen Power, Byfield has a big frame and is a great skater. He’s also a prime offensive creator who thrives when he has the puck. He got in six games of work this previous season, registering only one point. But in those six games he showed flashes of the great player everyone expects him to be.
The trust the Kings coaching staff has in Byfield is evident in the fact that he got second line work in his six game debut. He’s a leading candidate to regularly have that role throughout the upcoming season. With the Kings working to revamp their top six this offseason, he’s going to have a quality supporting cast around him. Should he get that second line role, he’ll be in store for plenty of scoring opportunities. While he may take some time to develop, he has the talent to force his way into Calder consideration.
Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim Ducks
Moritz Seider, D, Detroit Red Wings
Matthew Beniers, C, Seattle Kraken
Vitali Kravtsov, RW, New York Rangers
Marco Rossi, C, Minnesota Wild
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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