Prospects Rambling – OHL Cup news, and examining past Calder winners

Hayden Soboleski


Taking a look at how Calder winners are chosen and the OHL Cup in this Sunday's Prospects Rambling…


After once appearing to be no race at all, the competition for the Calder is gettng more and more exciting every game. Panarin still leads the way in points but the likes of McDavid, Gostisbehere, Eichel, and others are making strong pushes for voters' consideration. Everyone has a different opinion on what earns someone the title of top rookie – is it the straight-up most talented player, regardless of games played? Is it the player who played every game for their team and played a consistent part of their success? Is is someone who was crucial part of a playoff push? Or, is it just the top rookie scorer of the season? Let's take a look at the past 10 Calder winners to see where they stacked up in these criteria:


 Year                 Calder Winner  Rookie scoring (rank)  Games played  Playoff team?
 2014-15  Aaron Ekblad  39 (8th)  81  N
 2013-14  Nathan MacKinnon  63 (1st)  82  Y
 2012-13  Jonathan Huberdeau  31 (T-1st)  48*  N
 2011-12  Gabriel Landeskog  52 (T-1st)  82  N
 2010-11  Jeff Skinner  63 (1st)  82  N
 2009-10  Tyler Myers  48 (3rd)  82  Y
 2008-09  Steve Mason  –  61  Y
 2007-08  Patrick Kane  72 (1st)  82  N
 2006-07  Evgeni Malkin  85 (1st)  78  Y
 2005-06  Alexander Ovechkin  106 (1st)  81  N

*Lockout season – max possible GP is 48


Right away its obvious that games played is a major factor when picking the Calder winner. The only player on that list to win with less than 80 games played (excluding the lockout year of course) is Malkin, who made the vote a very easy decision that year. This makes sense – as logically a rookie capable or surviving on an NHL roster for the entirety of the season has shown that he has both the skill and strength to be an exceptional player. 


The next clearest output from the data above – points matter. 7 of the last 10 winners led their rookie class in scoring, and the year it was a awarded to a goalie was the year no rookie scored over 57 points. That's not to say Mason was at all undeserving at all, as 61 starts in a year is outstanding for even a veteran goalie, but no skater was pushing the issue with significant point outputs like in most seasons. The only times a skater won the Calder without leading their rivals in scoring was when a defenceman won the award – which is always a very subjective subject. There is no truly appropriate way to compare a forward's impact on a team compared to a defenceman; TOI may be of use but this is largely impacted by the options a team has at the time, and not always a representation of whether a player has earned said ice-time. For now lets say that where a player ranks among his peers in scoring is a very indicative statistic when it comes to voting consideration.


Finally, lets look at the playoff staus of the teams top rookies played for. This is obviously hugely biased subject – as the top rookies are typically awarded to the worst teams, who are therefore very unlikely to be in the playoff picture in the near future. There are of course exceptions to this due to traded draft picks, draft-day steals, and late-blooming rookies. But this investigation is to see whether those voting for the award winners value whether or not that team made a playoff push. The short answer to this – no. In fact, 60% of winners were on non-playoff teams, and this actually makes sense. When a rookie plays for a strong team, the naturaly excuse to discredit them is "they were carried by their linemates" or "everyone looks good when they play for so-and-so". On the other end of the spectrum – when a player on a terrible team racks up points, its more likely that they get the opposite lines: "they did it without any help", and so on. The major factor in this question though is how impactful a rookie was their team making the playoffs. Case in point – would Colorado have made it in 2013-14 without MacKinnon? Probably not, but his point totals made the voting easy regardless. Would Buffalo have succeeded in 2009-10 without Myers? Probably, given Miller's dominance that season – so in this case voters decided that he was worthy of the title without being one of the determining factors in making the playoffs. And the case for Mason in 2008-09 was again made simpler by the lack of elite scoring talent in skaters that year. The conclusion here – there haven't been any real instances of a rookie winning on the basis of carrying their team into the playoffs, unless they also put up impressive enough point totals to make the playoff point moot.


So what have we learned here, and who is going to win this year, one of the most competitive in recent memory? Well, playing the full season is a huge factor, seemingly moreso that being the points leader. If you're the points leader AND played the full season…I'd be hard pressed to bet against you. 




Alright, onto some OHL Cup updates. The tounament has been held this week in Toronto and features the best  Minor Midget AAA teams from Ontario and the USA. Tomorrow, the final will be played between the reigning two-time champions Toronto Malboros (of the Greater Toronto Hockey League) and the York Simcoe Express (of the Ontario Minor Hockey Assicoation). 


The Malboros have 3 of the top 10 tournament scorers in Akil Thomas (1st – 13 points in 6 GP), Danil Antropov (2nd – 10 points in 6 GP), and Thomas Tinmouth (T-4th – 8 points in 6GP). The Express have only one skater in the top ten: Cameron Hillis (T-4th – 8 points in 6 GP), but have made the finals with solid defensive play and being able to shut down opponents.


One of the biggest stars for the Malboros so far isn't a skater, but goalie Elliott Tang, who in four games played has a GAA of 0.72, allowing just two goals and recording two shutouts. Express goaltender Andrei Beresinskiy has been solid as well with a 2.07 GAA; both goaltenders were named their team's player-of-the game in the semifinals.


The website for the tournament can be found HERE for those wanting a full recap of every game so far, complete with some excellent videos exclusive to the site. A great resource for those wanting a better look at the next geenration of talent.


Admission is FREE to tomorrow's final at 7pm EST, so go check out some future NHLers if you're lucky enough to be in the area!


As always, thank you for reading, and best of luck in any fantasy pools I'm not a part of!


Hayden Soboleski


Associate Editor, DobberProspects


Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Timur Mukhanov 8.0 7.0
Alexander Pashin 7.0 2.5
Felix Unger Sörum 7.5 8.5
Charles-Alexis Legault 4 6.5
Alexander Pelevin 3 2
Tyler Tucker 5.0 6.0
Matt Kessel 4.0 7.5
Aatu Räty 8.0 7.0
Jackson Blake 6.0 6.0
Ryan Ufko 7.0 6.0