Originally written on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/5/14

By Alexander Monaghan

Jhonas Enroth backstopped the Buffalo Sabres to yet another win tonight, shutting out the below-average Carolina Hurricanes offense. The rookie has now won seven of his 10 appearances, improving his already stellar 2.19 GAA and .926 SV% to 1.94 GAA and .935 SV%. Without those wins the Sabres most certainly would not be sitting atop the Northeast Division, they might not even be in the playoff picture. As of this writing he has only accounted for one of their seven team losses which makes his case for team MVP.

Furthermore, Enroth’s improved peripherals now place him in the top five in both goals against average and save percentage while only padding his stats with his one shutout. Only twice has the Stockholm, Sweden native allowed more than three goals with one coming in mop up duty as he relieved Ryan Miller following the infamous Milan Lucic collision. His talent is now being seen on a national level leading local media to speculate on his potential accolades. Bill Hoppe of the MSG Network, via Twitter, suggested that Enroth win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Sadly, he will not win such a prize.

It would take a relatively poor showing from this season’s rookie skaters for Enroth to win the Calder, or even become a finalist for that matter. Last season, the rookie crop produced three 30-goal scorers, four 20-goal scorers and a few other deserving defensemen and goalies. This season is no different with current first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leading his team in scoring while Craig Smith, Luke Adam, Adam Henrique, Matt Read and Colin Greening all have made an impact on their team’s respective top lines.

By not nominating Corey Crawford, Michal Neuvirth, James Reimer or Sergei Bobrovsky as finalists, the voters set a big precedent for the standards of the trophy. Perhaps the fallen play of Steve Mason — the last rookie to take the Calder — plays a part. Perhaps the voters are taking into consideration the competition among starting goalies and their backups.

It’s no secret that there are more than 30 capable starting goalies in this League. Ray Emery was good enough to backstop the Anaheim Ducks to the playoffs last season but now plays second fiddle to the aforementioned Crawford. Cory Schneider, Jonathan Bernier and Enroth all are taking advantage of every opportunity given to them in order to get more starts. Playing solid between the pipes is no longer seen as a feat. Most teams simply need a capable netminder (See Sanford, Curtis) in order to stay competitive.

Such is the case with Enroth. In a similar situation to Crawford, Neuvirth and Bobrovsky he is currently backstopping a strong team, one capable and previously expected to succeed prior to his hostile takeover. With Miller in nets, they were contenders, Why would that change with a rookie with solid AHL numbers?

Nevertheless, Miller is sidelined indefinitely but probably gets back into a few more games this season. Despite his struggles with concussions over the past two years, coach Lindy Ruff continues to make it very clear that this job remains Miller’s to lose. Therefore, Enroth may not even make the case to compete to win the Calder, not that he would win it anyways. His best bet would be to go for the gold and remain in the top five which would automatically put him into Vezina Trophy consideration. The Vezina is clearly a more attainable goal for an ascending rookie netminder, right?

Regardless, stay tuned for the 23-year-old to get yet another start tomorrow night against the Phoenix Coyotes as he looks to win his third game in four starts and eighth win in nine starts while further decreasing his impressive counting stats.

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