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 whet