Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 10/4/14
The Calder Trophy is awarded to the Rookie of the Year in the NHL every year, and this year’s finalists are Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens, Jonathan Huberdeau of the Panthers, and Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks. Huberdeau is the easy choice for the trophy. He was the highest player of the three drafted, going third overall in the 2011 draft to the Florida Panthers. Huberdeau also led all rookies with 31 points, coming on fourteen goals and seventeen assists for the struggling Florida Panthers. He ranked second on the team in goals, and was a force every time he was on the ice. Huberdeau’s struggles to put up bigger numbers are understandable, and the blame certainly falls on the Panthers’ play as a team.  The team finished in last in points in the entire league, mustering only 36 in 48 games. Huberdeau found a way to shine, however, being one of the most noticeable players in just his rookie year. Huberdeau is a goal scorer at heart; he even scored on his first career NHL shot, during his second career shift.  Huberdeau also won the Rookie of the Month award for April this season, the only of the three finalists to win that honor. Finally, Huberdeau led all rookie forwards in average ice time, playing 16:55 a night for the Panthers. Oh yeah, and he can do this: Click here to view the video on YouTube. If one were to base their Calder Trophy vote on team success, there would be no question in Brandon Saad winning the award. The kid can flat out play hockey, and he is playing for the best team in the league, the Chicago Blackhawks. Saad led all rookies with a +17 rating (quite the opposite of Huberdeau) and had 27 points on ten goals and 17 assists during the season, only four points short of Huberdeau.  Saad played on the top line for the Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews and had immediate success, contrasting the lack of talent surrounding Huberdeau. Saad was put into a system that practically guaranteed success with players like Towes, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp. Saad was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, behind Huberdeau. The last Blackhawk to win the Calder trophy was Patrick Kane, who took home the trophy in 2008. Saad’s shot isn’t too shabby either: The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later. The last candidate is Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens. Gallagher has put together one of the quieter rookie campaigns this season, but was surprisingly productive. Gallagher had 28 points on 15 goals and 13 assists. He was part of a balanced Montreal squad that surprised the hockey world and finished second in the Eastern Conference, which was sure to draw attention to the 21-year-old.  Gallagher was tied for second in goals on the team, and seventh on the team in points, and was an impressive +10. The NHL’s justification is the turnaround of the team, which is understandable. But at the same time, a lot of credit has to be given to the coaching staff, Carey Price, and the overall balance of the team’s lines. Although he may have been the most rounded, he did not standout and certainly does not have the name recognition that Huberdeau does around the league. But then again, he has a pretty nasty wrister: Click here to view the video on YouTube. So who wins? I think Huberdeau. And that’s solely based off of name recognition. Saad and Gallagher have enjoyed team success, but Huberdeau is becoming the standout player in southern Florida, and nobody is going to take that title from him anytime soon, at least it appears that way. In a full season, who knows how many Huberdeau could have scored. Off of sheer performance and lack of help, I think Huberdeau has become the most standout rookie in the league and currently has the best skillset. People have been snubbed, yes (Yakupov of Edmonton,bBrodin of Minnesota to name a few), but of the three finalists Huberdeau is the winner. Here’s some more Huberdeau: Click here to view the video on YouTube. -Weingold
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