Who Is The NHL Rookie Of The Year Frontrunner?

Who Is The NHL Rookie Of The Year Frontrunner?&h=235&w=320&zc=1

One of the many things I love about hockey is that every year there’s a crop of incredible young talent entering the league. This year is no exception and could go down in history as one of the best rookie classes in NHL history–and that isn’t even factoring in that #97 kid in Edmonton. So who will be the eventual Calder Trophy winner this year?

Last season I was completely wrong but then again so was the rest of the media. At this point in the year I was ready to hand the Calder to Nashville’s Filip Forsberg. So was everybody else. Nothing at all wrong with Forsberg, the 21 year old Swedish national that came out of nowhere to lead the veteran laden Predators in goals. In retrospect, however, it’s just so obvious that the league got it right. Florida’s Aaron Ekblad became a legit top pair defenseman at age 19 and there’s nothing anyone could have put on their statline to top that. There might not be an Ekblad this season but there’s plenty of great rookies:

–DYLAN LARKIN (DETROIT RED WINGS): Full disclosure–I’ve always hated the Red Wings but at this point Larkin gets my ROY vote. So how did Dylan Larkin fall to #15 in the 2014 draft and right into the laps of the Wings? Good question, but he’s got all of the answers. He’s brutally fast and with 18 goals and 20 assists leads a veteran laden team in scoring. Detroit has a reputation as a team that lets talented youngsters languish in the minors for years. That might have worked in Ted Lindsay’s day, but not in 2016. He’s so talented that even the Wings couldn’t screw it up.

Panarin is the choice of many hockey writers and he’s a hell of a player. But he’s a ‘rookie’ in name only. He’s 24, has a ton of experience in his native Russia primarily playing in the KHL which is arguably the second best hockey league in the world. Has done a great job playing on the Hawks’ top line with Patrick Kane but he’s playing with *Patrick Kane*.

–CONNOR MCDAVID (EDMONTON OILERS): You may have heard of this kid. Not sure what to do with McDavid. He was well on his way to winning the Calder Trophy before his injury and since returning has just picked up where he left off. Doesn’t have the numbers of Larkin or Panarin but, then again, you can count on one hand the players in NHL history that can justify a highlight reel for a missed shot. And have fingers left over. For what it’s worth–Wayne Gretzky didn’t win rookie of the year either.

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