Who among last year’s prized
prospects are leading the pack for the Calder Trophy? Who has fallen off the
pace? It’s time for the monthly Calder Trophy Poll here at Hockey’s Future.
We’ve asked some of HF’s finest across North America to voice their opinions
and they have spoken. Among the surprises in this month’s poll are the fact
that Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury no longer sits atop the leaderboard.
Hunter – Hunter, second
among rookies in scoring, is making his presence felt on Long Island
playing with Shawn Bates and Jason Blake. With Mark Parrish and Alexei
Yashin out long term, the team is going to count on him even more as it
heads into the home stretch.
Pitkanen – While no one
could blame Philly GM Bob Clarke for trading up to get a shot at the
Finnish defender a year and a half ago, the impact the kid has had has
been phenomenal. With 4 goals and 11 assists already this season, some are
comparing him to a young Niklas Lidstrom.
Bergeron – This second
round pick was never supposed to make the Bruins out of training camp, but
not only has he made the club, he has chipped in regularly on the second
line with Brian Rolston and Sergei Samsonov to the tune of 10 goals and 13
Fleury – After an October
where he took the hockey world by storm, the ex-Cape Breton Screaming
Eagle has fallen back down to earth and now with the faux pas of the
deciding goal in the World Junior Championships hanging over his head, it
might be a long way back to the top.
Lombardi – One of the
shining lights on a goal-starved Calgary team, Lombardi was a draft
re-entry after not signing with the arch-rival Edmonton Oilers. We’re
guessing Oiler GM Kevin Lowe wishes he would have gotten something done on
paper with the kid.
Ryder – The new leader
among rookie scorers (although only by a point), Ryder is part of the
youth movement on the Habs to give the team more size. So far, the
Newfoundland native has given opponents all they could handle and then
some, proving to be quite a playmaker with 17 assists.
Raycroft – The Top
Ten’s second netminder, Raycroft made his debut in 2000-01 when injuries
wiped out the Bruins’ goaltenders. Back in the show for good now, the
ex-Kingston Frontenac started out strong but has recently hit a wall as he
battles Felix Potvin for the top job in the Fleet Center.
Staal – One of the most
highly regarded rookies going into the season, Staal has found himself on
a team that just can’t score goals and this has been reflected in his
point totals. He’d better grow up fast though, Carolina can’t rely on
Ron Francis forever.
Malone – Perhaps the most
impressive of the Pens ‘Baby Brigade’, the Pittsburgh native is a
power forward in the making. The son of a Pens scout, he impressed with
his work ethic and made the team out of training camp over higher regarded
rookies like Tomas Surovy.
Leighton – Rounding out
the Top Ten is Leighton, a netminder who has taken over the starter’s
job before his time due to a major injury to Jocelyn Thibault. After a
rocky start, Leighton has started to find his groove and could be a
candidate to move up the list should his level of play continue.
Others Receiving Votes (position
last month in parenthesis):
Dan Hamhuis, Jason King, Nikos Dimitrakos, Nikolai Zherdev, Nathan Horton,
Antoine Vermette, Paul Martin, Brett McLean, Garnet Exelby, Brooks Orpik,
Konstantin Koltsov, Sebastien Caron, Tom Preissing, Mike Danton, Matt Stajan.