Sean Monahan – Center – Calgary Flames
Monahan was a very popular man this past week. Not only was he playing an important role for the surprisingly average Calgary Flames (that was meant in the nicest way possible) but he was the topic of one of the biggest debates in the early hockey season; should Calgary burn a year of Monahan’s ELC despite being in the early stages of a rebuild or send him back to the Ottawa 67’s and delay his ELC another year? Well, the verdict is in, and the kid is staying in the big leagues.
This is great news for anyone who enjoys watching a future NHL star blossom before their vary eyes. He’ll have his up and downs as all rookies do but the kid has already shown that he has a knack for finding the back of the net. Playing alongside fellow rookie Sven Baertschi and veteran Jiri Hudler gives him two talented linemates to feed off of (a must for any Calder hopeful). If he can get a little more PP time his numbers should stay steady and he’ll be in the final discussion for rookie of the year honors.
Mark Arcobello – Center – Edmonton Oilers
With all of the talented youngsters on the Oilers squad, who would have thought that a 25 year old centerman would be the one tied for the team point lead? Arcobello, who has spent the past three years in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons, is tied for the league lead in assists alongside names like Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton. Not too shabby for undrafted free agent on a one year deal.
Of course the million dollar question is whether he can keep the production up. The answer to that depends on the health of Sam Gagner. Arcobello was largely given his chance to shine due to injuries to Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins. If he gets pushed down to 3rd line center (currently playing on the 2nd line) the point production will see a dip. If he can maintain his rookie forward leading 17:13 minutes of ice time per game then there is a glimmer of hope for his Calder dreams.
Tomas Hertl – Left Wing – San Jose Sharks
Surprise, surprise, ‘Mr. Showboat’ is on the list. The bane of Adam Oates existence was the talk of the NHL during the first few weeks of the season and it was well deserved. In his first three games he managed to tally six goals on just 13 shots. His four goal performance against the New York Rangers might have even forced Martin Biron to retire (okay, probably not, but it’s a fun theory).
Hertl has seen a dip in production since that fateful game (three points in six games is a dip for him) but he is still tied for 2nd in the NHL in goals. One of the biggest things that he has going for him is that he plays on a line with Joe Thornton and on a team that is averaging a league leading 4.33 goals per game. That alone will make him one of the better offensive rookies this season.
Seth Jones – Defensemen – Nashville Predators
Let’s get one thing straight, the fact that Jones dropped to the Nashville Predators in the NHL draft might have been the best thing to happen to the kid. He gets to play with one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL in Shea Weber and in a system that emphasizes the defensive side of the game. For a 19 year old blueliner with an abundance of talent, it’s a great situation.
And so far Jones has made the most of that situation. He is leading all rookies in ice time (24:23) and all rookie defensemen in goals (2), but here is the painful truth: a defenseman won’t go near the Calder unless they have the offensive prowess of a forward (just ask Jonas Brodin about that). Can Jones put up the necessary numbers to catch the voters’ eyes? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Nathan Mackinnon – Center – Colorado Avalanche
Obviously this list wouldn’t be complete without the previous year’s first overall pick. The good thing is that Mackinnon fully justifies his inherent spot on the list. Despite just turning 18 years old in September he is probably the best two way player in a group of rookies that are surprisingly competent at both ends of the ice.
Even with all of the skill and ability that Mackinnon has it might be a tough road towards the Calder. Unlike the rest of the guys on the list Mackinnon is playing on the third line due to the Avalanche’s depth down the middle. That means that his point production won’t get the 1st or 2nd line boost like the others. Then again that could be completely erased with Mackinnon’s skill. His seven points in nine games isn’t a bad way to show that ability.
Others to keep an eye on:
Hampus Lindholm – Defenseman – Anaheim Ducks
Aleksander Barkov – Center – Florida Panthers
Ryan Murphy – Defenseman – Carolina Hurricanes
Mark Scheifele – Center – Winnipeg Jets
Torey Krug – Defenseman – Boston Bruins
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