Calder Corner: Handicapping the Field-March

By HF Staff


 

 


It’s time again for Hockey’s Future to answer the question “If the Calder Trophy were awarded today,
based on what you have seen so far this season, who would your Top 10 Rookie Finalists be?” We’ve recruited several of
HF’s finest to take part this month and totaling up their votes, here is this month’s version of ‘Handicapping the Field’:

 
Last Month
This Month
Team
Player
2
1
ATL
Dany Heatley-It’s finally happened although it took an injury to do it. The ‘other’ guy has finally overtaken his more celebrated counterpart to come in at #1 in the polls. Mind you Heatley is no slouch himself and many argue that he deserves to be here as much as Ilya Kovalchuk, but the fact that he is still putting out even as the opposition is focusing on him even more with the Russian on the sidelines, speaks volumes.
1
2
ATL
Ilya Kovalchuk-Would Kovalchuk have been the first rookie to crack 40 goals since Jacques Lemaire
introduced the Neutral Zone Trap to the NHL? Pro-rated the numbers say he would have come up short at 37 but you have to think his Thrashers teammates would have done their all to make it happen had he stayed healthy. Alas but he didn’t.
3
3
CARErik Cole-Cole’s Lunchpailhead game keeps him in the top three again this month as he continues to obliterate the competition in the hit department and has a takeaway to giveaway ratio of over 2:1 (50:21) which is incredibly impressive for a rookie. Look for the kid to eventually develop into a 20 goal, 30 assist, 250 hit winger who might one day have a letter on
his jersey.
4
3
Florida PanthersKristian Huselius-It’s a rarity but it does happen and this month we do have a dead heat for the third spot between Erik Cole and Kristian Huselius, and what an odd couple it is. For all the Corned Beef on Rye you get with Cole, Huselius is every bit the Waldorf Salad. Slick only begins to describe the guy. Could become a major part of a multi-pronged Panther attack.
5
5
DETPavel Datsyuk-Holding steady at the fifth spot in the rookie role call, Datsyuk has been playing so well that there has been no rush for Steve Yzerman to come back from his bum knee. Considering the importance of the Wings’ captain to this crew, that’s saying a lot.
7
6
CHIMark Bell-Despite an utter lack of offensive production in the last half of the season, the NHL’s favourite rookie pest just won’t go away. Bell, who stands fourth in the rookie class in penalty minutes behind Chris Neil, Jody Shelley, and Darcy Hordichuk and second in hits behind Erik Cole has developed a reputation as pain in whoever’s butt the ‘Hawks happen to be playing that night.
6
7
COLRadim Vrbata-Here’s an interesting tidbit of information. If Vrbata had played all 82 games this season at his present rate of production he would have scored 30 goals. True he would have done it playing for the Avs but remember the reason for his promotion in the first place was because the team wasn’t putting the puck in the net.
9
8
CMB

Rostislav Klesla-It’s a babystep type of world for ‘Rusty’ Klesla these days. No one expects him to lead an second year expansion team to greatness in his rookie campaign, but he is getting comfortable with his surroundings. Now that Lyle Odelein is gone, he’ll have even more room to spread his wings on the blueline.
9
New York RangersDan Blackburn-All of a sudden the spotlight is back on Dan. With Mike Richter’s concussion, the ex-Kootenay Ice goalie is probably going to run the table on the regular season at the very least and who knows what else should the stars align just right for the Rangers. Pressure? What pressure?
9
10
ANAAndy McDonald-With Steve Rucchin back in the fold, McDonald has been moving around a bit and his
production hasn’t fallen off because of it. His west coast location hurts him a bit because of the time lag in game starts but his performance definitely merits a Top 10 spot.
Others Receiving Votes (position last month in parenthesis):Jeff Jillson (10), Niklas Hagman,
Nicolas Boynton, Krys Kolanos, Mika Noronen, Martin Erat, Pascal Dupius