With the NHL awards coming up tonight, I’m going to take a look at the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy which honors the best rookie player of the 15-16 NHL season. While all three finalists are great players, only one can come away with the trophy.
Lets take a look at the finalists:
Artemi Panarin (AKA The Breadman)
Panarin spent his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks. After years in the KHL he finally made his way to the big leagues. In 80 regular season games, Panarin put up 30 goals and 47 assists totaling 77 points. In 7 playoff games against the St, Louis Blues he put up an additional 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists). He also played on one of the most electric lines all season long. The Panarin-Kane duo was even more deadly than the Seguin-Benn combination. The Hawks pair put up 183 points, while the Stars first liners only had 162 on the score sheet. And while obviously Kane’s performance might be seen as a way to take away from Panarin’s, but this was Kane’s best year yet and I think that the young Russian had a lot to do with it.
McDavid, the number one draft pick. Some say he’s the next Gretzky. Watching him play is a great experience. Some of the goals he puts in, I have no idea how he does it. Struck down with injury early in the season he wasn’t able to give a full rookie year performance. But in only 45 games, he was able to put up 16 goals and 32 assists totaling 48 points. He had no playoff goals due to lack of appearance there and a +/- of -1, both of these stats can be blamed on playing for the Oilers.
And of course the obligatory McDavid video:
Shayne Gostisbehere (AKA Ghost)
Ghost, the only defenseman in talks for this award. And in my opinion, just a third option to put there to make it so it wasn’t a two man conversation, but it still kinda is. In 64 games played he put up 46 points (17 goals and 29 assists). Less points in 16 more games than McDavid. And yes I already said he was a defenseman so obviously he isn’t going to have as many points as these forwards, but still. They’re are defenseman that put up numbers like Panarin and McDavid (Karlsson (82 pts) and Burns (75 pts)). As bad as I feel for him that he has to play for Philly, I just don’t think he deserves this trophy over the other two.
That brings me to the final question:
Panarin or McDavid?
I think the answer to this question comes with the answer to the question of whether McDavid’s injury should be held against him or not. Obviously his 1.067 ppg outweighs Panarin’s .9625 ppg (or .966 if you include playoff games). But he also only played half of a season. Do I think he would have kept up those numbers? Probably, he might have even done better. But the fact is that we will never know how well he would have done. It sucks for him, but it’s what happened. I don’t think its fair to assume how the other half of a season would have gone, that is a lot of time and a lot of games for things to change.
There is also talk about Panarin being kind of invalidated due to his prior time in the KHL. Yes, he’s got a good amount of years on McDavid and a lot more experience against greater competition than McDavid had, but I don’t think that it matters. People also act like the question is asking who the better player is/will be. My response to both of those points is the same. This trophy is about who had the best rookie season. That is the only question that this trophy should answer.
To put it in better terms:
If you were a GM and picking between Panarin or McDavid, solely based on the outcome of their rookie season and then they’re going to leave your team. So you know Panarin will end up with those 77 points and you know that McDavid is going to be out for half of the season. Forget what they have done before, you are just picking these players based on the outcome of their first season in the NHL. If you are picking a player solely based on their play in their rookie season I think you gotta go with The Rad Russian, The Breadman himself
We can only hope he walks out to accept his award dressed like this.
Oh and also I totally don’t have any bias here as a Blackhawks fan….