2008 NHL Calder Trophy
Kane, Toews & Backstrom are Rookie of the Year Nominees
The Calder Trophy is awarded to the player who brings the most success to his team in his first year of play in the NHL. No surprise what-so-ever who the nominees are: Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (pronounced Taves) followed by Washington Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom. This combination finished 1-2-3 in the rookie scoring race with their surprising play in 2007-2008.
Even with a coin flip, it would be difficult to choose a winner.
Kane was the #1 overall pick for the Blackhawks in the 2007 hockey draft. Only 18 years old at the beginning of the season, he led all rookies in scoring with 71 points, including 4 game-winners. Kane averaged over 18 minutes of ice time a game and even looked upon in shootouts where he scored 7 goals.
His injury-free season really gave Coach Denis Savard to try new things with the kid. Power play, penalty kill and overtime pressure were all things Kane thrived at. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they came 4 points short of making the playoffs.
Patrick is my pick to win the Calder, but only because fellow teammate, Jonathan Toews spent 18 games of the ice due to injury. Finishing tied with Phoenix Coyotes rookie, Peter Mueller, for third in rookie scoring with 54 points, Toews showed his skill doing that in 64 games. Both Chicago rookies also scored 7 PP goals each.
Toews was the fourth overall pick for the Hawks’ in 2006, and paired with Kane, has shown great future for Chicago. He is a great face-off winning artist that plays both sides of the puck with his great skating as a two-way player. This 20 year old will be remembered for this schooling of 3 Colorado players and undressing Jose Theodore for one of the goals of the year.
His 24 goals led all rookies, but I think his injury will hold him from winning this trophy. The Blackhawks had another injury-prone year, with Toews and Martin Havlat, which very obviously kept them from the postseason.
Backstrom had the pleasure to play alongside with Alexandre Ovechkin for most of the season, who he can thank for a majority of his 55 assists. He was drafted one pick before Toews, going third overall in 2006. Even more impressive is the +13 plus/minus rating he led all rookies with on a team that barely made the playoffs.
The young Swede did have a huge part in the Capitals 7-game win streak to end the season, but he will always be overshadowed by Ovechkin.
No matter who wins the rookie of the year, both Chicago and Washington will only get better. Who needs the Calder, when you can get Lord Stanley in the years to come. This vote will be tighter than any other race before and may even need a recount. I pick Kane by a the smallest of victory over Backstrom, leaving Toews sitting in third.
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Notable Mention: Peter Mueller tied Toews with 54 points but finished with an ugly -13 plus/minus. At one point of the season, his Coyotes looked like they may sneak into the playoffs, which ended quickly during their 5 game losing streak. A great, well-rounded player with his 7 PP goals, 3 game-winners and led all rookies with 201 shots on net. Playing under Wayne Gretzky, Mueller will be a force very soon.
Hart Trophy | Adams Trophy | Byng Trophy | Calder Trophy | Norris Trophy | Selke Trophy | Vezina Trophy
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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