Hockey’s Future Calder Poll, January 2009

By HF Staff

In our first Calder poll of the season, Hockey’s Future placed a pair of Columbus Blue Jackets atop the list — Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek. Two months later, both those players have fallen out of the top ten, but a teammate maintains Jackets representation in a still highly-contested Calder trophy race.

1. Steve Mason, G (CBJ)

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

Mason’s position at the top of the Calder poll really can’t be disputed at this point. Not only does he look to be a virtual lock to be nominated for award right now, he may also end up in Vezina contention as he currently leads all NHL goaltenders with a 1.82 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

2. Kris Versteeg, RW (CHI)

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

Versteeg has opened up an eight-point lead in the rookie scoring race, he’s tied for first in rookie goals, he’s first in rookie assists, he’s first in rookie shot-handed goals and he’s the only forward in the top 10 for rookie ice time.

3. Drew Doughty, D (LA)

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

Last month’s Calder poll leader has cooled off offensively – one assist in his last 10 games, no goals in 21 – and he hasn’t been as reliable defensively lately as he was earlier in the season – minus-7 in his last 10 games. But on the plus side, Doughty still eats up huge minutes in LA, currently almost three minutes ahead of the next closest rookie in average ice time per game.

4. Patrik Berglund, C (STL)

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

In a season of more downs than ups, Berglund has been a breath of fresh air for the Blues. He has been a model of consistency, currently sitting tied for second in rookie scoring despite not scoring more than one goal or two points in any one game so far in his freshman campaign.

5. Blake Wheeler, RW (BOS)

6’5, 205 lbs. DOB: Aug. 31, 1986
Acquired: 1st round, 5th overall in 2004

Wheeler has been big in body and in game so far this season, making a valuable contribution to Eastern Conference-leading Bruins. He currently sits fourth in rookie scoring with 24 points, he’s tied for the freshman goal-scoring lead and he’s well ahead of his peers in plus-minus, now sitting at plus-22.

6. Bobby Ryan, RW (ANA)

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

Based on average points per game, had Ryan started the season in Anaheim he’d be leading the rookie scoring race right now. But the Ducks had cap issues, which forced Ryan to start with the AHL’s Iowa Chops. But he waited it out, eventually got the call and now he’s making it count. He’s been given top-six minutes and he’s responding, evidenced by a run of 16 points in his last 14 games.

7. Alex Goligoski, D (PIT)

5’11, 180 lbs. DOB: July 30, 1985
Acquired: 2nd round, 61st overall in 2004

Goligoski has notched eight points since the last Calder poll was conducted and moved up three spots in the standings. He leads Penguins defensemen in points and plus-minus, but with the return of Ryan Whitney, Goligoski’s regular playing time is in jeopardy – he’s been a healthy scratch in two straight.

8. James Neal, LW (DAL)

6’3, 205 lbs. DOB: Sept. 3, 1987
Acquired: 2nd round, 33rd overall in 2005

Neal’s emergence as a bona fide NHL player probably came earlier than expected in Dallas, but for a team that has been low on positives so far this season, the 21-year-old budding power forward has certainly been a big plus. His 13 goals tie him both for the rookie lead and for second on the Stars. What is more impressive is that he needs just five more tallies to equal his total for all of last season in the AHL and he’s currently on pace to finish with more goals in his first NHL season than he scored in any one year of junior.

9. Mikhail Grabovski, C (TOR)

5’11, 179 lbs. DOB: Jan. 31, 1984
Acquired: Trade with Montreal on July 3, 2008

Grabovski is unquestionably talented, but he’s also beginning to show he’s very streaky. He didn’t register a point in the first seven games of this season, followed that up with 18 points in 18 games and in his last 15 contests he’s recorded just two goals and three assists.

10. Matt Hunwick, D (BOS)

5’11, 190 lbs. DOB: May 21, 1985
Acquired: 7th round, 224th overall in 2004

Hunwick’s immediate impact at the NHL level is just another plus to add to the pile in a season where everything has gone right for the Bruins. The Warren, Mich. native came out of nowhere to score 14 points in a span of 13 games, sandwiched by nine straight healthy scratches and a current slump of one point in 10 games. Still, the young defenseman boasts a rookie defenseman-best plus-15 rating.