Why the 2020-21 Calder Trophy Race May very well be Legendary


Nils Hoglander (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY SportsThat cross. Wow.Tomas Tatar couldn’t have dreamed up extra completely positioned puck. It traversed two bluelines to land on his stick, with no Toronto Maple Leaf participant inside a number of toes of him. Your complete offensive zone to himself, Tatar cruised in and beat Frederik Andersen, five-hole.The heads-up feed that sprung Tatar seemed like one thing you’d see from a veteran all-star caliber defenseman. Nevertheless it got here from a rookie about 27 minutes into his first NHL recreation. Alexander Romanov arrived with loads of hype, projected to be an all-around, top-pair shutdown blueliner for the Montreal Canadiens in the long run. But when he additionally has the offensive acumen to make passes like that? Whoa. He performed 21:30, put three pictures on internet and blocked 4. The Habs held a 17-14 shot-attempt share at 5-on-5 with him on the ice. Romanov has entered the chat – and the Calder Trophy race.”I believe he battles actually laborious,” Tatar mentioned within the post-game Zoom convention Wednesday night time following Montreal’s 5-Four extra time loss to Toronto. “He is shifting the puck very properly, even on our second power-play unit. This child…is an efficient hockey participant for positive.”And Romanov wasn’t the one rookie making a splash on Day 1 of the 2020-21 NHL season. Vancouver Canucks left winger Nils Hoglander lived as much as the excitement he generated in camp and buried his first aim in his first recreation, wanting extraordinarily snug on the second line with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.We are able to anticipate to see much more of those performances within the days and weeks to return. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented rookie setting. With rosters expanded and rookies merely having fewer locations to play as we await the beginning of the AHL season and threatening fates of the OHL and WHL seasons, some will get alternatives they might not have beforehand acquired. Loads of different groups are rolling with high-profile rookies of their lineups to start out the season, maybe conscious that the staff with the freshest legs could have a bonus in a 56-game dash loaded with back-to-backs and stretches of three video games in 4 nights. The New York Rangers are the league’s most rookie-rich staff to open the season. Uber-competitive and sublimely proficient left winger Alexis Lafreniere, bubble wrapped and held out of the 2021 world juniors, will debut on the third line after being chosen No. 1 general within the draft in October. Massive, athletic blueliner Ok’Andre Miller begins his profession on the highest defensive pair with Jacob Trouba. Beginning goaltender Igor Shesterkin stays a rookie after solely showing in 12 video games final season, dominating with a .932 save share regardless of dealing with the best diploma of 5-on-5 probability problem of any goalie within the league apart from his then-teammate Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers’ New York rivals have their very own rookie Russian phenom goalie in Ilya Sorokin, anticipated to separate begins for the Islanders with Semyon Varlamov this season.In Ottawa, spotlight machine Tim Stutzle is a day away from his first take a look at the NHL after lighting up the WJC for Germany. Becoming a member of him in the identical lineup: the AHL rookie of the yr, Josh Norris, set to middle Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson on a high-ceiling first line. In Boston? How about Jack Studnicka, the promising two-way middle, getting a glance on the primary line instead of injured David Pastrnak, manning the correct wing alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. In Buffalo, middle Dylan Cozens will quickly see his first NHL motion after making the staff. He has insulation above him on the depth chart in Eric Staal and Cody Eakin however might climb because the season progresses.After which, in fact, there’s Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, arguably the Calder Trophy frontrunner, the ultra-polished, 23-year-old left winger who arrives as probably the most prolific aim scorer in KHL historical past relative to age. “To me it’s a mixture of the hockey sense, arms and skating,” Wild GM Invoice Guerin advised me just a few months in the past. “He’s obtained all the things. Lots of guys have instruments, however possibly they don’t have the thought course of to go together with it, however he appears to have actually good quantity of all the things.”Intriguing rookies such because the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nick Robertson are prepared and ready on taxi squads, too. And two of the season’s most extremely anticipated rookies, powerhouse middle Quinton Byfield and world junior MVP Trevor Zegras, have been despatched to the AHL to open their seasons however might rejoin their groups earlier than lengthy and instantly turn out to be high-impact gamers. It looks as if 2020-21 is about as much as produce one of many strongest, deepest Calder Trophy fields we’ve ever seen. 

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