Friday, November 25, 2005

Another Look At The Calder Race

Last week, I wrote that Henrik Lundqvist should be considered a Calder favorite. This opinion of mine has been cited a few times in other blogs. At the time I wrote the post, Lundqvist led the NHL in goals against average and was second in saves percentage. Since then he has slipped to third in both of those categories. Thus his clear lead in the Calder race (in my opinion) is slipping.

There have been many other solid rookies this year in the NHL. Among goalies, Jason LaBarbera of Los Angeles and Alex Auld of Vancouver have both played very well. Neither have played as well as Lundqvist and neither have clearly won their team's starting goalie jobs (as Lundqvist has), so neither are serious Calder contenders.

On defence, Dion Phaneuf of Calgary has been very good as have Brent Seabrook of Chicago and Andrej Meszaros of Ottawa, but none can legitimately claim they have been among the best players in their position so far this season.

At forward, the candidates who have had the most media attention are Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Alexander Ovechkin of Washington. Crosby has been better than Ovechkin and is well ahead in terms of points and gaining ground in goals scored. At this point, Crosby is clearly ahead of Ovechkin in the Calder race, but both are serious contenders. Marek Svatos of Colorado and Mike Richards of Philadelphia are some of the better other forwards, but they are not serious Calder contenders at this point.

I think that at this point in the season, there are three Calder candidates who are well ahead of the rest of the pack. Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Alexander Ovechkin of Washington. I think that the most serious race right now is between Crosby and Lundqvist. I still argue that Lundqvist is in the lead, largely because he has been more important to the Rangers success than Crosby has been to the penguins success. Its always tough to compare between different positions like this and the race is close.

Henrik Lundqvist is not getting the media attention he deserves as a Calder candidate. He was not even a choice in the Slam Sports rookie of the year poll. I think he has a small lead over Sidney Crosby at this point. Before the season began, the NHL was writing stories about the league's successful comeback as a higher scoring league led by the two rookie first overall picks in Crosby and Ovechkin. They are largely sticking to that script (as both Crosby and Ovechkin are playing well) and ignoring the fact that there is a third rookie who is a goalie (and thus is not increasing scoring in the league) who has outplayed both of them.

NOTE: Thanks to Matt at Battle of Alberta for pointing out the Alex Auld is not quite a rookie. A rookie cannot have played 6 or more games in any two preceeding seasons. Auld played 7 games in 2002-03 and 6 in 2003-04 so he is not quite a rookie.

I don't think Auld is eligible for the Calder (and if I remember why, I'll be back).
Ah, yes, here we go:
"To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in 25 or more NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons."

Auld played in 7 games in 02/03, and 6 games in 03/04, so no Calder for him.

You are right. Auld has *slightly* too much experience to be a rookie.
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