Friday, October 17, 2008

Calder race opens up as Stamkos sits

Normally I wouldn't delve into something like the year-end awards this early into the season, but it's becoming crystal clear who probably isn't going to win the Calder Trophy this year.

Steven Stamkos.

Even against the Islanders on Thursday night, coach Barry Melrose parked his prized rookie at the end of the bench, where Stamkos twiddled his thumbs for all but 9:22 of a game that ended in overtime. The only Tampa Bay players to see less action were Gary Roberts and Adam Hall.

Stamkos looked fine in the limited minutes he did play, although he saw very little power-play time and was seemingly out there with a different linemate every shift. And it's hard to say whether or not he was sheltered from difficult opposition given, well, they were playing the Islanders.

Unless you're a goalie, point production is generally the main criteria for winning the Calder. The award has been handed out 71 times in NHL history and forwards have won it two-thirds of the time.

But the other thing that's really a necessity is that you spend a decent amount of time on the ice, something that's just not happening for a lot of freshmen this season.

Take recent history for example. Patrick Kane won the Calder last season while playing 18:21 minutes a game. A year earlier, Evgeni Malkin won and he averaged 19:09 and Alex Ovechkin won the year before that while munching up 21:37 minutes per game.

Prelockout winners were Andrew Raycroft (a goalie), Barret Jackman (20:02), Dany Heatley (19:53), Evgeni Nabokov (goalie again) and Scott Gomez (16:20). If you go back far enough, you get to Chris Drury and Sergei Samsonov, who played smaller roles but still logged 13:15 and 15:23 per game in their Calder-winning seasons.

So far this year, 58 rookie skaters have played in at least one game, and the large majority have had relatively minor roles. Stamkos, who was picked by probably 90 per cent of preseason pundits to be the rookie of the year, is 48th in ice time at just 9:41 per game.

Luke Schenn, the Maple Leafs defenceman, is first at 20:59 per game.

Only 10 rookies have averaged 16 minutes played (in more than one game) this season, and it's a pretty interesting group: Schenn, Steve Wagner, Drew Doughty, Luca Sbisa, Alex Goligoski, T.J. Oshie, Kris Versteeg, Mikhail Grabovski, Alex Pietrangelo and Mikkel Boedker.

So they're in the mix. Derick Brassard in Columbus should be, too, as he's managed a point a game in 14:56 a game. Fabian Brunnstrom's big debut with a hat trick Wednesday night was an eye-opener, but he has been very sheltered in Dallas and may not continue to put up big numbers.

Two more names to consider are Patrik Berglund, the fourth St. Louis rookie I've mentioned, and Kyle Turris, although their ice time has been limited to 13:30 and 11:28 a game.

As I said, it's incredibly early, and it makes sense that players are being relatively sheltered the first few games into their NHL careers. But at some point, either due to injuries on their teams or a sudden adaptation to this level of hockey, some rookies are going to start playing larger roles and putting up more points.

Heck, even Stamkos could turn it around. But you don't win the Calder playing 11 or 12 minutes a night, and I don't see him getting more than that any time soon. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if both he and the Lightning wouldn't be better served by him playing in junior again.

In any event, what we aren't likely to see this time around is the big rookie totals that we've been spoiled with postlockout. Among this group, it's wide open.


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15 Comments:

At 7:06 AM, October 17, 2008, Blogger islesblogger said...

James,

Was the dig at the Islanders necessary? The Islanders only had one clunker, and that was against a tough team in the Sabres.

They are playing .500 hockey after four games, even though it's only four games they have not done anything to make the opinion that they won't amount to anything come true.

 
At 8:59 AM, October 17, 2008, Blogger chris juengel said...

brandon sutter in carolina has looked great so far also.

-chris

 
At 9:01 AM, October 17, 2008, Blogger Master of the Obvious said...

Sbisa with the Flyers has impressed me each time I've seen them play. He's very confident with the puck and very noticeably physical. I feel he might have an outside shot at the trophy.

 
At 10:15 AM, October 17, 2008, Anonymous PB said...

Hi James -

I would initially thought that Turris was more of a candidate, but based on minutes played, I thought that he had played more that Boedker. Of course, having two rookies that are possibilites for the Calder on one team is an interesting, but good, problem to have.

My instinct tells me (for what it's worth), that Turris will get the nod as the season wears on.

I'm not sure what is happening down there in Florida...I saw the game last night and they are not playing well at all.

 
At 12:24 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger McLea said...

Steven Stamkos: Biggest Bust Ever?

Tampa Bay - It might be early in his career, but hockey types are already discussing whether or not Steven Stamkos is the biggest bust in the history of the world.

At his current production pace, it's estimated that Stamkos will earn 0 points in his career, a significant dissapointment for a player that was chosen first overall in the draft.

Sharks: Greatest Team Ever?

Silicon valley - In other news, the Sharks have started the season 4-0, which puts them on pace to earn 164 points, which would be the highest total in NHL history. It might be early, but I think it's worth asking whether or not the Sharks are the best team of all time.

Koivu Putting Together Historic Season

St. Paul - Wild wonder kid Mikko Koivu is putting together a historic season this year in Minnesota. The forward has scored 1 goal and added 8 assists in 3 games this season, putting him on pace for 246 pts this season, the highest in NHL history. It might be a little early, but I think we should start considering grouping Koivu with the likes of Howe, Gretzky, and Richard as one of the greatest players of all time.

 
At 12:52 PM, October 17, 2008, Anonymous Pension Plan Puppets said...

McLea - Biggest Pedant Ever?

Also James, don't forget the Leafs' Nikolai Kulemin who already has 2 goals in 3 games and is on pace for 55 goals. Yes McLea, that was tongue-in-cheek.

 
At 1:33 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger Comrade J. Michael Neal said...

The award has been handed out 71 times in NHL history and forwards have won it two-thirds of the time.

This is almost exactly what you would expect from a random selection, as there are twice as many forwards on a team as there are defensemen. The goalies mess up the tidiness, but this isn't particularly strong evidence of a bias in favor of forwards.

 
At 1:38 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Goalies have won it 15 times. If you go with only skaters, forwards have won about 85% of the time.

 
At 1:59 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger Ebscer said...

TJ Oshie looked very good last year in the NCAA so I would expect him to have a chance at winning the calder. Still his team isn't good enough for him to get noticed.

 
At 3:15 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger JoBu said...

Geez Louise, James, did you have Dale Tallon ghostwrite this article? We're ONE WEEK into the season. You don't think that Barry might alter his ice time as it becomes obvious that he can take it, as well as realize the fact that TB probably won't be competing for a playoff spot this spring?

 
At 3:18 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Melrose has repeatedly said in the press that the ideal amount of ice time for Stamkos is about 12 minutes, and I just can't see him making much of an impact in that little a time.

I don't think he wins the Calder. You heard it here first.

 
At 4:13 PM, October 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TB has such a poor defence that I would move Stamkos to play D because: 1)D always gets more icetime and 2)D rarely wins Calder so Stamkos wouldn't have as much pressure.

That was also tongue in cheek.

But has anybody seen Stamkos? He is totally lost in their own end so he has to get PP time and top 6 icetime because now he is not doing what he can do and doing what he can't do.

Otherwise back to junior a.s.a.p. and back to Bolts next season when those two cowboys have hired real coach like Pat Burns (who happens to live in Tampa).

Btw, Brian Lawton should know a thing or two having number one pick trying to do something he is not ready to do. At least yet.

 
At 8:15 PM, October 17, 2008, Blogger teebs said...

I voted for Turris because I think his situation is one that could easily see him succeed through the year.

My second choice is going to Filatov who scored early in his first game, this assumes he sticks up with the Jackets for the remainder of the season.

 
At 1:34 AM, October 18, 2008, Blogger Comrade J. Michael Neal said...

TJ Oshie looked very good last year in the NCAA so I would expect him to have a chance at winning the calder. Still his team isn't good enough for him to get noticed.

I wasn't that impressed with Oshie last year, but that may be from watching a limited number of games, namely against Minnesota, and the NCAA tournament. It's probably also colored by the fact that North Dakota failed to show up for the second straight NCAA semi-final. Against Boston College. The only thing worse than rooting for North Dakota is watching them lose to a team I manage to like even less.

 
At 3:20 AM, October 19, 2008, Anonymous jealous broadcaster said...

Turris still has the BCHL buzzing. His hockey radar is off the charts.

Please excuse the technical terminology.

 

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