Discussing soon-to-be Calder runner-ups and young goalies holding their own in today’s Ramblings…
The biggest debate concerning the Calder trophy this year seems to be ‘can McDavid score enough to justify ousting Panarin despite missing half the season?’…and this will probably be the discussion among voters for the rest of the year. While this debate is justified and inevitable, there’s been a staggering number of rookies playing important roles for their teams this season so I’m going to indulge myself and ramble about some notable stats put up by Calder also-rans.
Shayne “Ghost” Gostisbehere (PHI) is making an incredible push for a top-three Calder finish with 34 points in just 40 games (making him 3rd in points-per-game). He leads the class in powerplay production (18) and OT goals (4!) despite playing up to 20 fewer games than his competition. His current 15-game point streak (extended with the OT winner last night) is the longest by an NHL defenceman since 1995.
Jack Eichel (BUF) has 14 points in his last 14 games and 41 on the year (2nd-place among rookies). He has the highest shot totals among candidates and plays more minutes than any other rookie forward. He could be given even more ice-time and a more responsible role very soon if Ryan O'Reilly's injury turns out to be significant.
Dylan Larkin (DET) started the year with a bang but has lost the spotlight to his high-scoring rivals. A stat that shouldn’t be ignored: Larkin is ranked 2nd among rookies in even-strength points with 36 and tied for 1st in even-strength goals with 17. His plus-21 rating puts him 5th in the NHL and 1st among Calder-eligible.
Colton Parayko (STL) leads the race in ice-time, playing 19:19 per game on average. His most impressive feat may be creating Kevin Shattenkirk trade-rumors after his emergence as a powerplay phenomenon and a defenceman the teams just can’t bear hiding on the third-pairing. Luckily(?) injuries have given him the situational opportunities he deserves.
Max Domi (ARI) doesn’t lead in any particular statistic, but 41 points on an Coyotes squad where he is one of only seven regulars with a positive plus-minus rating is pretty darn impressive. He also sits 10th among rookies in PIM – his nose for the net has both real and fantasy GMs excited for his multi-category future.
John Gibson (ANH) has four shutouts (tied for 3rd in the NHL), and has battled his way into a tandem with a starter in no need for competition. He has the same (solid) 0.917 SV% as Andersen and only one less win despite playing seven fewer contests.
Some goalie prospect notes:
Calvin Pickard (COL) may be on his way back to the AHL soon, as Reto Berra is currently conditioning in preparation for a return from injury. Pickard has 12 NHL games played this season and holds a 0.917 SV% and a 2.75 GAA. He hasn’t matched his stellar numbers posted in 16 games last season (0.932 SV%), but his consistently strong AHL numbers and good play when called up could lead to a full-time backup role next year.
Joonas Korpisalo (CLB) is up to 20 NHL games played thanks to the many injuries of Bobrovsky and the lackluster play of alternate candidates McElhinney and Forsberg. Korpisalo clearly doesn’t mind a little internal competition, as his 2.62 GAA and .920 SV% hold up far better than expected on a weak Columbus club.
Louis Domingue (ARI) has had a weak February after a strong run since called-up in December. 0.897 SV% this month – but anchored down due to losses to Chicago, LA, and SJ which are forgivable.
I don’t think Jacob Markstrom (VAN – 22 GP, 0.917 SV%) or Connor Hellebuyck (WPG – 26 GP, 0.918 SV%) really count as prospects anymore, but the young guns have cemented their status as NHL regulars and could very well be starters (or at least the 1A half of a tandem) for their respective teams next season.
A quick update on league leaders in the juniors:
OHL – 1. Kevin Labanc (SJS)
2. Christian Dvorak (ARI)
3. Mitch Marner (TOR)
4. Dylan Strome (ARI)
5. Matthew Tkachuk (2016)
WHL – 1. Dryden Hunt (undrafted)
2. Adam Brooks (2016)
3. Brayden Burke (2016)
4. Tyson Baillie (undrafted)
5. Parker Bowles (undrafted)
QMJHL – 1. Conor Garland (ARI)
2. Francis Perron (OTT)
3. Vitali Abramov (2016)
4. Anthony Richard (NSH)
5. Pierre-Luc Dubois (2016)
Lots of 2016 draft-eligible players on those lists to keep the scouts busy.
Only a few firsts to mention this week:
Nick Paul (OTT) has been called up to the Senators and registered his first point (an assist) in his second game. Paul has never been a prolific scorer and is likely a bottom-six piece (which isn’t terrible news if Lazar stays in the bottom-six with him).
Viktor Loov (TOR) also got the call this week and tallied his first point (also an assist) within minutes of hitting the ice. His selection was surprising given the strong play of TJ Brennan, who leads the Marlies in scoring, but the organization clearly believes in Loov’s defensive abilities and wants to test him. Don’t expect much fantasy value out of Loov (short or long term) outside of hits and blocks.
Tom Kuhnhackl (PIT) scored his first NHL goal Saturday night. The 24-year-old hasn’t been even slightly fantasy-relevant 16 NHL games this season, but what a great way to get your first:
As always, thank you for reading and good luck in any fantasy leagues I'm not a member of!
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