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Calder Trophy Watch: Is Tomas Hertl still best in class?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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(Every so often, Puck Daddy presents its look at the rookie class of 2013-14 in our Calder Trophy Watch.)

What many of us anticipated in the Calder Trophy Watch: That Tomas Hertl, skating alongside Joe Thornton for the San Jose Sharks, would be in the mix for the award this season.

What none of us could have anticipated: That he’d have eight goals and three assists in 12 games, including a highlight reel tally in a 4-goal effort that sparked a league-wide controversy.

Talk about your memorable debuts …

He’s cooled off since then, with one goal and three helpers in his last games. But it’s safe to say that he’s at the front of the pack for the Calder.

Here are the current rookie scoring leaders in the NHL:

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Obviously the other wrinkle in this race is Sean Monahan, whom the Calgary Flames opted to keep with the big club rather than shuffle off back to juniors. He’s second in the NHL in rookie goal scoring (6) and Bob Hartley has smartly used him to maximize his offense.

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Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick for the Colorado Avalanche, and the Edmonton Oilers’ Mark Arcobello both face the same issues, which is that they’re keeping pace with points but not in the Calder glamor stat of goals. Although that’s not always the predictor of who wins the Calder, as Nail Yakupov can attest.

On The Rise: Seth Jones, Nashville Predators. He’s leading all rookies in ice time with 24:42, and playing well enough to spark conversations about making the U.S. roster for Sochi.

On The Decline: Sven Baertschi, Calgary Flames. Monahan has stolen his spotlight, and his one goal in 10 games earned him a healthy scratch recently.

Lurking: Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks. The defenseman is a plus-11 and skating 19:40 per night. He won’t have the offensive numbers to blow away voters, but could get the Jonas Brodin hype from last season’s Calder race.

Missing In Action: Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo Sabres. One assist in 12 games for the Russian rookie, with his ice time dipping below 10 minutes in five of them.

What The USA Today Voters Think:

Tomas Hertl (8)51
Sean Monahan35
Seth Jones (1)24
Alex Chiasson (1)20
Mark Arcobello (1)11
Nathan MacKinnon7
Torey Krug5
Hampus Lindhom4
Olli Mattta3
Aleksander Barkov3
Jacob Trouba1
Frederik Andersen1

Hertl is still the frontrunner. My ballot:

Tomas Hertl
Seth Jones
Sean Monahan
Alex Chiasson
Aleksander Barkov

I think Jones is right there with Hertl as far as impressive rookie starts go. Barkov, my Calder pick, is making the most of the talent around him like Jonathan Huberdeau did last season in winning the Trophy.

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