Rookie Report: March Calder Poll

By Stephen J. Holodinsky

New Page 2

While there is some consistency with last
month’s poll, namely Michael Ryder once again edging Andrew Raycroft for top
spot, there are several surprises lead by Chicago’s Tuomo Ruutu, who appears in
the top ten for the first time. Here is March’s Calder Poll
of Hockey’s Future staff.

Last Month
This Month




Michael Ryder

Ryder once again has sparked the Habs down the stretch run with five
goals, six assists and a much improved +4 on the plus/minus scale in March.
Even though the Canadiens dealt for Alexei Kovalev at the deadline, it is
rookie Ryder who is leading the way on the right side for the club. It
doesn’t seem to matter who he lines up with these days, he still seems to
get the job done.


Andrew Raycroft

The Bruins netminder just seems to keep chugging along as the
team challenges for the President’s Trophy heading into the NHL’s second
season. This past month Raycroft was 6-1 with a .929 save percentage and a
goals against average of 2.00. As good as that is however, the big test
comes in a week or so when he will face his first playoff game.

It’s been a remarkable climb for the left wing in Steeltown,
as he just keeps getting better and better as the year goes on. The Pens
are going nowhere this year but with Malone tallying two goals and five
assists and playing only -1 hockey for this losing team, the future is

Trent Hunter – For
most of the year Hunter has carried the Isles, which is no small feat for
a rookie, regardless of the fact that he is 23 years old. However, down
the stretch he has gone cold registering only a single goal and a single
assist in the month of March to go with a -2 rating. While he has been
streaky this year, he has a lot of time to develop his consistency as he
will be in New York for the long run.


Nikolai Zherdev – Another
fast riser on the list, Zherdev exploded for five goals and nine assists
this month to go with a +2 rating for a very sorry Columbus side. Clearly
the acquisition of Alexander Svitov has agreed with him. With Columbus
looking more and more towards their youth, expect Zherdev to take on a
bigger role and thus score even more next year.
Tuomo Ruutu – Ruutu
torched opposing goalies for eight goals and eight assists last month to
become March’s biggest climber and highest debut. As he takes on a bigger
role for the youthful Blackhawks squad he has grown into a more complete
offensive threat. However, he is going to have to pick it up defensively
somewhat as he came in with a lowly -6 this month.


PHIJoni Pitkanen – One
of the biggest drops in March, Pitkanen was only able to count two assists
to go with -4 hockey for the Flyers. This is no doubt partially due to the
concussion he suffered in the middle of the month that saw him miss two
games. Still, if Philly is going to go anywhere in the playoffs, they are
going to need their rookie to step up for the second season.
8 8 BOSPatrice Bergeron – This
month’s other big bust, Bergeron missed the first nine games in March with
a separated shoulder and as a result only was able to put up two assists
in four games. Still he was +2 in those four games and he is riding a
two-game point streak so he could be back to normal. This is good news for
the Beantowners, as they will need all their guns shooting in the
Dan Hamhuis – Powered
mainly by a monster game against Pittsburgh when he counter a goal and
four assists, Hamhuis scored twice and added seven helpers in the month of
March to go with a -3. With the Preds trying to make the playoffs for the
first time in team history, the young blueliner is going to have to do
more defensively for the team in the season’s final days.
10 CAL
John-Michael Liles – March’s
other debut, Liles had been quietly putting together a good rookie season
in Denver before his knee injury. Still, he was able to put up a pair of
goals and eight assists last month before being carried off the ice.
Despite that though, he came in at -3 for the offensive powerhouse
Avalanche, something that needs fixing if he is going to prosper in the

Others receiving votes (position in previous
top ten in parentheses):
Eric Staal (6), Paul Martin, Matt Stajan,
Joffery Lupul (9), Brooks Orpik, Nathan Horton, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Jarret
Stoll, Matt Lombardi, Garnet Exelby.