Hockey’ s Future Calder Poll, February 2009

By Justin Dickie

For the fourth consecutive month, the HF Staff Calder poll has a new leader. It remains a wide-open race for the rookie of the year award, which should make for an interesting finish. Considering the vote finished with the closest margin between the top two vote getters so far this season and several freshmen still have a legit chance at the trophy, things are just starting to heat up.

1. Bobby Ryan, RW (ANA)

6’2, 208 lbs. DOB: Mar. 17, 1987
Acquired: 1st round, 2nd overall in 2005

First place. Not bad for a kid who many had already written off as a bust just three years after getting drafted. The lofty comparisons to who he was drafted behind probably didn’t help. Also, Ryan didn’t even start this season in the NHL, which fueled critics further, but he has scored at almost a point-per-game pace since getting called up and has silenced those critics in the process.

2. Steve Mason, G (CBJ)

6’3, 186 lbs. DOB: May 29, 1988
Acquired: 3rd round, 69th overall in 2006

Mason also didn’t start the season in the NHL, but like Ryan, caught fire once called up. He has cooled off a bit as of late, but still leads the league in shutouts and ranks second among all goaltenders in goals-against average. He’s getting buzz as a potential Vezina candidate and if he keeps up his stellar play he may even be in the running for the Hart.

3. Drew Doughty, D (LA)

6’1, 203 lbs. DOB: Dec. 8, 1989
Acquired: 1st round, 2nd overall in 2008

It’s amazing what he has accomplished as a 19-year-old on the up-and-coming Kings. Doughty is blowing away the competition in average time on ice among rookies, he’s the No. 1 defenseman on his team and he remains a true contender for the Calder trophy while the one guy drafted ahead of him has really no sniff left.

4. Blake Wheeler, RW (BOS)

6’5, 205 lbs. DOB: Aug. 31, 1986
Acquired: Signed as a free agent on July 1, 2008

It’s easy to see now why the Phoenix Coyotes went off the board to pick Wheeler fifth overall in the 2004 draft, given his tremendous contribution to the East-leading Boston Bruins. You can bet it’s not so easy for Phoenix to watch their once prized prospect – who they lost to free agency – climb the rookie scoring race on another team. Wheeler has 15 goals, 18 assists and a plus-32 rating in 53 games this season.

5. Kris Versteeg, RW (CHI)

5’10, 180 lbs. DOB: May 13, 1986
Acquired: Trade with Boston on Feb. 3, 2007

Versteeg has led the rookie scoring race for a good chunk of the season, but his reign may be in jeopardy with Ryan, Wheeler and others coming on strong. He has just two points in his last six games, but the points will come as long as he keeps playing well enough to stay in the top six on a deep Chicago team.

6. Patrik Berglund, C (STL)

6’4, 187 lbs. DOB: June 2, 1988
Acquired: 1st round, 25th overall in 2006

It seems like Berglund’s fantastic rookie season hasn’t been getting the recognition it deserves. The Calder race is hot at the top of the pack, but Berglund isn’t far off the pace. He has quietly put up 16 goals and 16 assists, good for fourth in rookie scoring, and is an incredible plus-14 on a last-place team (in comparison, Blues leading scorer Brad Boyes is minus-22).

7. Luke Schenn, D (TOR)
6’2, 216 lbs. DOB: Nov. 2, 1989
Acquired: 1st round, 5th overall in 2008

Schenn hasn’t yet scored his first NHL goal, but he does so much in his own end and on the physical side of the game that if or when he scores it’s just an added bonus. Schenn ranks second among rookies in average time on ice and logs the second-most minutes on the Leafs. Toronto GM Brian Burke says the 19-year-old is the closest thing to untouchable on the rebuilding team.

8. Jakub Voracek, RW (CBJ)
6’1, 205 lbs. DOB: Aug. 15, 1989
Acquired: 1st round, 7th overall in 2007

After ranking second in the first Calder poll of the season, Voracek sort of went into hibernation. He’s back on track now, though, with eight points in his last 11 games. He has proven he’s responsible in his own end, too, evidenced by his plus-11 rating which is good for second among forwards on the Blue Jackets, behind only fellow rookie Derick Brassard, who is out for the year due to injury.

9. Michael Frolik, C (FLA)

6’1, 185 lbs. DOB: Feb. 17, 1988
Acquired: 1st round, 10th overall in 2006

Frolik started off slow in his first pro season, scoring just two points in his first 19 games. But once some Panthers ahead of him on the depth chart went down to injury Frolik got his opportunity and has since flourished. He has 22 points in his last 29 games, showing signs of why he has been tabbed as a poor man’s Jaromir Jagr.

10. Mikhail Grabovski, C (TOR)
5’11, 179 lbs. DOB: Jan. 31, 1984
Acquired: Trade with Montreal on July 3, 2008

A hot streak way back in November has Grabovski’s stats propped up enough to keep him in the top 10 for now, but his Calder stock is dropping because he has been ice cold lately – three points in his last 11 games. His most noteworthy actions this month included abuse of an official and a public verbal dispute with Montreal Canadiens sophomore winger Sergei Kostitsyn.