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Calder Smoke: Who Will Win the NHL's Rookie of the Year?

The list of NHL rookies expected to receive extensive playing time this season is a bit longer than usual, with no clear-cut frontrunner to win the league's rookie of the year. This leads to varying odds from the sportsbooks, with room for plenty of value bets. It's time with peel back the curtain on who really has a chance to win the award.


Recent History


2021-2022 **82-game season**

PLAYER

TEAM

POS

VOTE %

AGE

G

A

PTS

W

GAA

SV%

Moritz Seider

DET

D

95%

20

7

43

50

Trevor Zegras

ANA

C

61%

20

23

38

61

Michael Bunting

TOR

W

45%

26

23

40

63

Lucas Raymond

DET

W

26%

19

23

34

57

Jeremy Swayman

BOS

G

11%

23

23

2.41

.914

2020-2021 **56-game season**


PLAYER

TEAM

POS

VOTE %

AGE

G

A

PTS

W

GAA

SV%

Kirill Kaprizov

MIN

W

100%

23

27

24

51

Jason Robertson

DAL

W

69%

21

17

28

45

Alex Nedeljkovic

CAR

G

39%

25

15

1.90

.932

Josh Norris

OTT

C

18%

21

17

18

35

Igor Shesterkin

NYR

G

17%

25

16

2.62

.916

2019-2020 **70(ish)-game season**


PLAYER

TEAM

POS

VOTE %

AGE

G

A

PTS

W

GAA

SV%

Cale Makar

COL

D

90%

21

12

38

50

Quinn Hughes

VAN

D

79%

20

8

45

53

Dominik Kubalik

CHI

W

33%

24

30

16

46

Adam Fox

NYR

D

25%

21

8

34

42

Elvis Merzlikins

CBJ

G

13%

25

13

2.35

.923

Other recent winners:

2018-2019: Elias Petterson, VAN, C

2017-2018: Mathew Barzal, NYI, C

2016-2017: Auston Matthews, TOR, C

2015-2016: Artemi Panarin, CHI, W

2014-2015: Aaron Ekblad, FLA, D

2013-2014: Nathan MacKinnon, COL, C

2012-2013: Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA, C


What criteria can we gather from the last 10 seasons of Calder voting?

  • Five winners were centers, three were defensemen, and two were wingers

  • Zero goalies won the award

  • All five centers were first round picks, with four of the five being top-five picks

  • The three defensemen were top-six picks in the NHL draft

  • The only wingers to win were 23+ year old Russians who had KHL scoring success

  • Forward winners averaged 0.87 points per game

  • Defenseman winners averaged 0.66 points per game


This Season's Rookies


Here's the list of rookies who have the potential to receive extensive playing time this season:


ANA: Mason McTavish

ARI: Nathan Smith, Jack McBain, Dylan Guenther

BOS: Oskar Steen

BUF: Owen Power, Jack Quinn, Eric Comrie, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, JJ Peterka

CGY: Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary

CHI: Alex Vlasic, Lukas Reichel

CBJ: Kent Johnson

DAL: Riley Tufte

EDM: Stuart Skinner, Phillip Broberg

LAK: Jordan Spence

MIN: Marco Rossi, Calen Addison

MTL: Juraj Slafkovsky, Justin Barron, Jordan Harris, Corey Schueneman, Mattias Norlinder

NJD: Simon Nemec, Alex Holtz, Fabian Zetterlund

NYR: Vitali Kravtsov, Nils Lundkvist, Zac Jones

OTT: Jake Sanderson, Shane Pinto, Lassi Thomson

PHI: Felix Sandstrom, Bobby Brink

SJS: William Eklund

SEA: Matty Beniers, Shane Wright

STL: Scott Perunovich, Jake Neighbours

TOR: Nicholas Robertson

VAN: Spencer Martin

VGK: Logan Thompson

WPG: Cole Perfetti, Kristian Reichel, Dylan Samberg, Ville Heinola


The list narrows down extensively, after applying our criteria from the last 10 seasons. Here's what we're left with, after finding who closely fits the criteria based on our projections:


ANA: Mason McTavish

BUF: Owen Power, Jack Quinn

CHI: Lukas Reichel

CBJ: Kent Johnson

MIN: Marco Rossi

MTL: Juraj Slafkovsky

NJD: Simon Nemec

NYR: Vitali Kravtsov

OTT: Jake Sanderson

SJS: William Eklund

SEA: Matty Beniers, Shane Wright

WPG: Cole Perfetti


That's 14 contenders by our count for the Calder Trophy. If you do believe a goalie has a chance this season, Logan Thompson is the best bet if he runs with the Vegas Golden Knights' starting job. Otherwise, lets dive a little deeper into these 14.


The Candidates


With opportunity and ice-time baked into our projections, we're able to put a percentage on who meets our criteria the best based on position, draft status, and projected points per game. From there, we adjust the probabilities weighing in the criteria of all 14 candidates and are able to convert that probability into American betting odds.


Mason McTavish, ANA

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 3rd overall 100%

Projected points per game: 0.48 55%

Criteria fit: 68%

Adjusted Calder probability: 9.88%

Calder odds: +900


Owen Power, BUF

Position: D 30%

Drafted: 1st rd. 1st overall 100%

Points per game: 0.63 96%

Criteria fit: 75%

Adjusted Calder probability: 13.26%

Calder odds: +650


Jack Quinn, BUF

Position: W 20%

Drafted: 1st rd. 8th overall 90%

Points per game: 64%

Criteria fit: 58%

Adjusted Calder probability: 6.13%

Calder odds: +1500


Lukas Reichel, CHI

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 17th overall 42%

Points per game: 0.13 1%

Criteria fit: 34%

Adjusted Calder probability: 1.24%

Calder odds: +8000


Kent Johnson, CBJ

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 5th overall 100%

Points per game: 0.29 34%

Criteria fit: 61%

Adjusted Calder probability: 7.13%

Calder odds: +1300


Marco Rossi, MIN

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 10th overall 72%

Points per game: 0.51 59%

Criteria fit: 60%

Adjusted Calder probability: 6.79%

Calder odds: +1400


Juraj Slafkovsky, MTL

Position: W 20%

Drafted: 1st. rd. 1st overall 100%

Points per game: 0.32 36%

Criteria fit: 52%

Adjusted Calder probability: 4.42%

Calder odds: +2200


Simon Nemec, NJD

Position: D 30%

Drafted: 1st rd. 2nd overall 100%

Points per game: 0.26 40%

Criteria fit: 57%

Adjusted Calder probability: 5.82%

Calder odds: +1600


Vitali Kravtsov, NYR

Position: W 20%

Drafted: 1st rd. 9th overall (+ some KHL success) 85%

Points per game: 0.29 34%

Criteria fit: 46%

Adjusted Calder probability: 3.06%

Calder odds: +3200


Jake Sanderson, OTT

Position: D 30%

Drafted: 1st rd. 5th overall 100%

Points per game: 0.38 57%

Criteria fit: 62%

Adjusted Calder probability: 7.49%

Calder odds: +1200


William Eklund, SJS

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 7th overall 100%

Points per game: 0.39 45%

Criteria fit: 65%

Adjusted Calder probability: 8.63%

Calder odds: +1100


Matty Beniers, SEA

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 2nd overall 100%

Points per game: 0.91 100%

Criteria fit: 83%

Adjusted Calder probability: 17.97%

Calder odds: +450


Shane Wright, SEA

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 4th overall 100%

Points per game: 0.57 66%

Criteria fit: 72%

Adjusted Calder probability: 11.73%

Calder odds: +750


Cole Perfetti, WPG

Position: C 50%

Drafted: 1st rd. 10th overall 72%

Points per game: 0.56 64%

Criteria fit: 62%

Adjusted Calder probability: 7.49%

Calder odds: +1200


Conclusion


We have four horses in the Calder race in Beniers (+450), Power (+650), Wright (+750), and McTavish (+900). Although a case could be made for Beniers and Wright stealing votes from each other being on the same team, it should be noted Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy last season despite Lucas Raymond also finishing fourth in the voting. It may come down to who receives the most opportunity to play on the top line and powerplay unit for the Kraken as to who becomes the frontrunner for best rookie.


If you're a believer in the latest trend of defensemen winning the Calder (two of the last three seasons), then Power becomes the most likely to win, despite conceding nearly all prime powerplay time to Buffalo Sabres teammate Rasmus Dahlin. In case of an injury to Dahlin, or if Power plays his way into that role, he instantly becomes the obvious frontrunner as the 2021 1st overall pick.


McTavish will likely have to play a lot of wing this season if he's to receive quality even-strength minutes, due to Trevor Zegras and Ryan Strome solidified as the Ducks' top two centers. As history shows, this hurts his odds dramatically, so he might be a good one to lay off.


As far a longshot for the league's best rookie, Kravtsov fits a similar profile of a couple of former winners. He comes over from the KHL after a little success, although it's not quite the same as Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov. He is coming over at a younger age than both did, however, if he does capture a roster spot in training camp. Unlike Panarin and Kaprizov, Kravtsov's role with the New York Rangers is uncertain. There is a potential top-line wing spot available with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and if he can find a way into that role Kravtsov could have the point-per-game rate necessary for prime consideration.

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