NHL: Who Will Win the Calder Trophy for the 2021 Season?
This is the last full week of the NHL regular season. Rookies usually take time to come on their own and some usually make an impact right away. Some players usually wait two to three years to get into the NHL, some will be play right away after they get drafted, and some will be signed as undrafted/college free agents.
There are some rookies that will deserve to be finalists but only one can win the award. The Calder Memorial Trophy has been one of the most prestigious awards for a very long time in the NHL.
The last winner was defenseman Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche in 2019-2020. This wasn’t a surprise. Makar is now one of the best defenseman in the NHL.
Who will be the next three finalists and potential winner for the Calder Trophy in the NHL for 2021?
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
Kaprizov is one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the NHL coming from Russia. He has played the last several seasons in the KHL, before coming to the NHL.
Kirill Kaprizov is only 24 years old and has the potential to be the next great goal scorer from that country. Kaprizov played in 54 games so far this season with the Minnesota Wild in the NHL. He has scored 27 goals and has recorded 24 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 11.
Kirill Kaprizov is the heartbeat of the Minnesota Wild. Without him this season, they may not have even made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Minnesota is currently in third place in the Central Division. They have a different climate in the locker room. Kaprizov could lead them to a Stanley Cup Title one day in the NHL. He was also a fifth-round pick (135th overall selection) in the 2015 NHL Draft. Dean Evason is the head coach of the Minnesota Wild.
Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes
Nedeljkovic has become the primary number one goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes over James Reimer and Petr Mrazek in the NHL. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour should be thrilled about having a true number one goalie finally and it is one of the reasons why Carolina is a one seed in the Central Division in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Alex Nedeljkovic has played and started in 23 games for the Hurricanes so far this season. His record is 15-5-3 with a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 GAA, along with three shutouts.
Nedeljkovic is going to be the potentially the first rookie goalie to win a Stanley Cup if they get that far since Cam Ward in 2006. In 2006, that was also the last time they finished in first place in any division in the NHL.
He was a second-round pick (37th overall selection) in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Nedeljkovic is only 25 years old.
Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars
Despite the Dallas Stars missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season and just reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season, Jason Robertson was a beast during his rookie season. Robertson was playing on the top line a lot in the NHL with Joe Pavelski and other impactful Dallas Stars players.
Robertson is only 21 years old. He was a second-round pick (39th overall selection) in the 2017 NHL Draft. Jason Robertson has played in 50 games so far this season with Dallas. He scored 16 goals and recorded 27 assists. His plus/minus is 14.
Jason Robertson will be a key piece for the Dallas Stars and also be an impactful in the NHL in the immediate future. We will see what happens for him under head coach Rick Bowness moving forward.
My three favorites for the award would be: 1. Karill Kaprizov 2. Jason Robertson and 3. Alex Nedeljkovic.
Who do you think should win the Calder Trophy in the NHL this season? Leave a comment below.
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Follow Glenn Kaplan on Twitter @glennkaplan13.