With the NHL awards about 6 weeks away, the closest and most difficult choice to make is for the Calder trophy. The Calder, which is awarded to the rookie of the year is coveted and all three finalists deserve to be considered. For those of you unaware, Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin and Shayne Gostisbehre or ‘ghost’ as he is referred to by Flyers fans.
Two forwards and a defensemen. One who played major junior in Canada and is still a teenager, one who played college hockey and won a national championship and one who had some time in the KHL before making his NHL debut. So which one do you choose?
People favoring McDavid will value his point per game average of 1.07, despite only playing 45 games. So the question becomes do you penalize a player for suffering an injury and missing half of the season? Does he still average over a point per game if he plays all 82 games.
A player who did play in 80 of 82 games was Panarin. He was impressive with 77 points and reached the 30 goal milestone. He had a hat-trick and a playmaker in his rookie season. Was this because he played on a line with Patrick Kane, or was he the reason why Kane led the league in scoring?
Then you have Ghost. A defensemen who started the season in the AHL. He played 64 games and had 46 points, the fewest point total of the three finalists. He was a plus 8 with 5 game winning goals, four of them coming in OT. He had the second longest point streak in the league behind Kane and was the sole reason for the Flyers making the playoffs. If they didn’t have Ghost, they would have not made the playoffs.
So, back to square one. You have one player who will take over the role of the face of the NHL when Crosby is gone in McDavid. You have another who amassed a point total that has been unseen since Patrick Kane scored 72 as a rookie during the 2007-2008 season. Finally you have one that was probably his teams most valuable player. So which one do you choose?
McDavid is a dynamic player. His point production was solid in the 45 games he did play. Since he didn’t play 80 games like Panarin, we cannot say for certain If he would have scored more points than him. He wasn’t as valuable to his team as the other two and I don’t think that would have changed if he played the whole season. If McDavid wasn’t the next face of the NHL, he would have probably been overlooked as a finalist. I would argue Larkin deserved the nod over McDavid. Therefore in my book he is out.
That leaves us with Ghost and Panarin. Both were huge assets to their team. Ghost didn’t play many more games than McDavid, but had a much greater impact on his team when he did. Panarin also had a great impact on his team. Whether his point production was due to playing with Kane, or whether Kane’s production was due to playing with Panarin, I think he deserves the title of rookie of the year. There is no denying that his season was the most impressive by a rookie in nearly a decade and he was one of the best players in the league. Period.
Now if only I knew how to spell Gostibehere and pronounce Pa-nar-in.