Jonathan Huberdeau: The New Calder Trophy Favorite
After playing in the shadows of Cory Conacher and Vladimir Tarasenko for the first month of the 2013 NHL season, has Jonathan Huberdeau’s recent success made him the new favorite to win this season’s Calder Memorial Trohpy?
Through 17 games played this season, Huberdeau has been able to compile 13 points, including 5 in his last 4 games. His 8 goals on the season are good enough to lead all rookie scorers and his 13 total points are only 2nd to Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Cory Conacher who currently has 15.
Bad news this past week for the St. Louis Blues has thinned out Huberdeau’s competition as St. Louis Blues’ rookie forward Vladamir Tarasenko has been ruled out indefinitely after suffering a concussion against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. Just as injuries de-railed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Calder campaign last season, it looks as if once again the injury bug will rob another rookie front runner of some very special hardware.
With Tarasenko out for an undisclosed amount of time, Huberdeau’s greatest threats to overthrow him for rookie of the year will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Cory Conacher and the Montreal Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk. As it was previously stated, Conacher currently leads all rookie scorers with 15 points and Galchenyuk isn’t too far behind with 12 points of his own. Although players like Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz could also make a run for this year’s trophy, I believe that in the end the trio of Huberdeau, Galchenyuk and Conacher will rise to the top.
Out of all the Calder eligible rookies this season, Cory Conacher clearly plays with the best supporting offensive cast. With players like Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis at his side, Conacher can rack up his points while being the 3rd or 4th scoring option on the team. With a vast arsenal of weapons around him and an offense that currently scores an NHL leading 3.81 goals per game , I think that Conacher will end up leading all rookie scorers come seasons end. However, even if Conacher wins the rookie scoring title, I still believe that Huberdeau can take home the Calder Trophy.
If we take a look at recent history we can see that leading all rookies in scoring doesn’t necessarily guarantee a Calder Trophy on your mantle. Last season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 52 points in only 62 games due to injury and lost the Calder Trophy to Gabriel Landeskog who had exactly the same amount of points while playing in 20 more games than Nugent-Hopkins. However, aside from Landeskog, the last forward to win the Calder Trophy without the outright rookie scoring title was Chris Drury during the 1998-1999 season when he took home the trophy after finishing 3rd in rookie scoring that year.
Unlike Conacher who is currently skating with at least three future hall of famers, Huberdeau will be forced to lead this season rather than follow as he is thrust into the spotlight as the poster child for the Panthers’ future success. Although Huberdeau may not win the rookie scoring title, if he can keep the Panthers respectable throughout the season as the team’s number one scoring option while staying within reach of Conacher’s offensive numbers, then I believe that will be enough for him to win this year’s Calder Memorial Trophy.
Lucky for fans there is still a lot more hockey to be played this season before any meaningful hardware is handed out, but until then please feel free to share in the comments section who you think will take home this year’s Calder Memorial Trophy and why – Thanks for reading!
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