Welcome back for another edition of the Calder Power Rankings. January’s been a great month to follow most of the NHL’s top rookies and a comparatively sad one for others. While the likes of Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes continue to assert their two-way dominance, former contenders such as Victor Olofsson and Ilya Mikheyev have essentially withdrawn from Calder contention due to injury woes. The final half-dozen weeks until the end of the season should continue to be competitive for the rookies who continue to jockey for the remaining seven spots of the Power Rankings.
For a look at any of the previous revisions of the Calder Power Rankings, check out the following links:
1. D, Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche (-) | 11-26-37
No surprise to kick off the rankings, once again Cale Makar maintains a strong offensive pace to hold firm at #1. His team’s outlook as we approach the trade deadline is exceptional, and he will look to hold on to his top-defenseman status while the organization looks to build for a deep playoff run.
2. D, Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (-) | 6-30-36
Some would argue that Hughes is still hot on Makar’s heels, but in my opinion, despite their mere 1-point difference in production, Makar is still quite a ways ahead. Where Hughes hasn’t been able to catch the Av’s defender is in the realms of primary and even-strength production. Both variables are strong factors in predicting sustainable production, and Makar has been clearly superior. Hughes is an A+ young defenseman among a crop of rookies that he would otherwise lead, but for 2020, he still in line for a runner-up spot.
3. D, Adam Fox, New York Rangers (+1) | 6-21-27
In the case of our third consecutive defenseman in these rankings, the tier’s of the podium are unevenly distributed. Fox has done exceptionally well over the past few weeks in both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. This being said, his overall value as a rookie is a clear tier below both Hughes and Makar. There’ve been instances where his offensive instinct is at a level above any defenseman on the ice, and he also plays in a consistently responsible manner behind the Rangers blueline. Until he emerges as the Blueshirts go-to defenseman in all situations, he’ll have a hard time catching the other two.
4. LW, Dominik Kubalik, Chicago Blackhawks (+2) | 21-11-32
Since the beginning of December, Kubalik has begun to be recognized as a legitimate driver of offense among Blackhawks, rather than simply a dust bunny on the coattails of Jonathan Toews. The 24-year-old sniper is the best healthy rookie forward in the league… which leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many owners. Not having the accurate baseline of a healthy Victor Olofsson or Ilya Mikheyev leaves Kubalik in no-mans land in terms of having a forward’s frame of reference to compare him to. Nonetheless, he’s been a happy surprise and should be relied upon for fantasy goals and peripherals for years to come.
5. D, John Marino, Pittsburgh Penguins (-2) | 4-19-23
After a month or so of surging offense, the Penguins rookie has cooled off. In the meantime, his season-long defense partner Marcus Petterson was extended by Pitt, leaving the question open as to how much of a cap-friendly deal Marino really is. If the Penguins were able to get him out for more than the minute or so of power-play ice-time that he’s been averaging the last month, he may be able to boost his stock a bit, but for now, I think fantasy owners should be happy with anything they get out of this diamond in the rough.
6. G, Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets (NEW), 9-5-4, 0.926 SV%, 2.39 GAA
I’d been criticized in previous editions of the rankings for overlooking the league’s rookie netminders, and to some extent, rightfully so. In what may also be a controversial take, Elvis Merzlikins is debuting as the top rookie goaltender this NHL season. The Columbus backup was praised and adored by several Dobber and DobberProspects writers leading up to the 2019-20 campaign, but a disappointing October got him off to a rocky start in the Calder race. Given the second-chance to take over the starting role in Ohio, Elvis has run with the opportunity. Since his return to the crease, he’s gone 9-2-1 with three shutout victories and looks like the job is now his to lose.
7. RW, Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres (-2) | 16-19-35
Despite being out of the lineup since the beginning of the month, Olofsson is still bound to earn votes at year-end. He’s being overtaken by a few late-comers to the party, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish top-10 in the final voting. Injuries aside, Olofsson is a top-5 talent in this rookie class.
8. C/RW, Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (-1) | 12-15-27
The Cane’s forward has been consistently inconsistent throughout his rookie slate in Carolina. His deployment has been just as inconsistent though. The Canes’ positive outlook as we approach the postseason is a positive and should lead to some valuable experience for the rookie. If the team makes a move to acquire any forward depth in the next 30 days, Necas’ inconsistent ice time could become consistently low and impact his year ending production.
9. G, Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals (NEW) | 15-2-1, 0.927 SV%, 2.06 GAA
After arguably being snubbed from the Calder Power Rankings top-10 list for the first seven editions, the Capitals backup sneaks into the list at ninth. Fronted by excellent run-support in Washington and only playing a backup-plus role, I’ve been reluctant to boost Samsonov to the top-10. His consistency, however, across 18 NHL starts has reached the point of being memorable. Braden Holtby’s outlook past July 1st is still up in the air, but for now, Samsonov is locked into his current role.
10. C, Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens (-3) | 9-19-28
An explosive holiday season had Nick Suzuki on pace to find himself within striking distance of the top-5 by this time. Unfortunately, since the turn of the decade, the Montreal rookie has petered off. The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuck and the Habs persistency has been fighting against the production of their young centerman, but his proven track record at some points of the season is an indication that he may one day keep pace with the best forwards of this rookie class.
A few notable players who are vying for a spot in the next edition of the top-10 include:
And some notable players who have been jockeyed out of the top-10 include:
Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks for the next revision of the Calder Trophy Power Rankings.