The highly anticipated rookie campaign of American phenom Auston Matthews is now in full swing. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ star center racked up an incredible 46 points in 36 games with the Zurich SC last year and his entry into the NHL has been nothing less than stellar.
When he finally made it to the big show, Matthews converted all non-believers by setting a record and netting not one, not two, not three, but four goals in his NHL debut.
Yes, it was only one game. Yes, it was the very first game. But the clinic he put on that night rocketed him into first place in Calder contention. He was by far the front runner for Rookie of the Year even before his debut. That performance really solidified his chances, until we got to see what the rest of 2016-17’s rookie class had to offer. There are three other players that stand in the way of Matthews winning the Calder.
Three BIG Reasons why Auston Matthews won’t win the Calder Trophy
Columbus’ first round (eighth overall) pick of the 2015 NHL Draft is quickly becoming a Calder consideration. The NHL’s November Rookie of the Month has amassed an impressive 21 points in 30 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets this year. 11 of those points came on the power play, as Werenski has seemingly found his place on Columbus’ first power play unit.
Frankly, the guy is a beast.
It’s his first year in the league and not only is he producing points, he is also carrying a huge load for a team surging in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division. Werenski is averaging 22 minutes a game, on the first line, playing alongside Seth Jones – acquired last year from the Nashville Predators in a blockbuster trade for Ryan Johansen.
Zach Werenski is one big reason why the Blue Jackets have turned it around this year. Given his performance both offensively and defensively, Werenski deserves Calder consideration.
To be eligible for the [Calder Trophy] award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible.
In 1971, Ken Dryden appeared in six regular season games for the Montreal Canadiens. Then amazingly he made 20 playoff appearances, backstopping Jean Beliveau and the Habs to their 17th Stanley Cup championship.
In 1973, Dryden would again take Montreal to the finals, winning them their 18th in franchise history. It was with two Stanley Cup championships under his belt that he won the Calder Trophy that year.
Matt Murray has a very similar opportunity in front of him. Having played less than 25 regular season games last year (he only played 21), Murray is still eligible to be nominated for the Calder Trophy.
Why shouldn’t Murray be considered? He has affectively taken the top spot in Pittsburgh. Outside of Thursday’s game against Columbus, his performance so far this year has been rock solid. It only adds fuel to the fire that the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to trade their former number one Marc-Andre Fleury.
Drafted second overall in this year’s NHL Draft, Patrik Laine doesn’t get what all the fuss is about when it comes to Auston Matthews. Auston Matthews who?
With more goals, assists, and overall points than Matthews, Laine has been showing the league what he’s made of without wasting a second. Alongside the talented Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele – both of whom are having breakout seasons of their own – Patrik Laine has become one of the league’s elite wingers.
Tied for second in the league in goals, Laine is not afraid to shoot the puck. Though the Winnipeg Jets are failing to put up the wins, Laine has not failed to put up points. Laine has managed two hat-tricks already in this young season. It’s no four goal debut, but it’s pretty close for sure.
If Laine keeps pace, he may very well finish the year as the highest scoring rookie of the 2016 class. For that, he ought to be considered for the Calder Trophy this year.
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