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NHL Rookie Race Includes More than 2

Posted by Webster Washington on 3/17/2016 3:03:12 AM

The NHL had a lot of good young players enter the league this year. So we should have known that picking a rookie of the year would not be as simple as choosing between two guys. While the Nos. 1 and 2 draft picks - the advertised rookie sensations Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel - have done well, neither has cornered the market on the bid for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

McDavid, the top draft pick, has missed a lot of Edmonton games with a clavicle injury, but his 35 points in 36 games has been impressive. His rookie co-star, Eichel, has put in a full season for Buffalo, and his production has been good, if not sensational. The 19-year-old has 48 points in 70 games.

Top Contender

However, as luck or good management would have it, Chicago harbors the leading contender for rookie honors this season. It's Artemi Panarin, a 24-year-old who the Blackhawks imported from Russia on free agency. Voters may deduct points because of his age and experience (four years in the KHL).

There's also the fact that he plays on the 'Hawks top line with Patrick Kane. But he's certainly earned his place, and he's certainly done his share. In 68 games, Panarin has amassed 62 points, and that puts him right there with Alex Ovechkin.

Others in Race

There are others. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has kept his Philadelphia Flyers team in the playoff hunt, scoring 39 points.

Dylan Larkin leads the Detroit Red Wings in goals, with 20. Max Domi has 44 points in 68 games for the Arizona Coyotes. And if ever a goalkeeper has deserved the rookie award, it would be John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks. He has shared goalie duties with Frederik Anderson this season and has a 2.07 goals against average in 30 games.

Despite having a few votes trimmed because of his experience, Panarin should get nod for the Calder award, particularly if he keeps up the pace. He's worked his way to the forefront of a Stanley Cup defending team and made it better. And how different is KHL experience from AHL experience over here?

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