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Calder Watch: Who are the favorites for 2013-14 NHL rookie of the year?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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The NHL rookie class of 2013-14 could be a stellar one. Some players enter the season with boundless potential. Some will be given juicy roles next to star players and plenty of ice time. It could be a hell of a race for the Calder Trophy.

To reset the criteria for the award:

“To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible.”

Sorry, Mikhail Grigorenko. You played 25 games last season. No Calder for you. (Why can’t he just lie about his games played like he lies about his age?)

Coming up, at look at some of the key rookies for the 2013-14 campaign, and whether or not they will win the Calder …

Sven Baertschi, F, Calgary Flames

Why He Will Win The Calder: Wait, he can win the Calder? Yep. NHL rules dictate that it’s 25 games in a single season or six or more games in any two preceding seasons. Sven played … FIVE games in 2011-12. Whew. Anyhoo, he can win the Calder because he had 10 points in 20 games last season and three goals in five games the year before. If he earns his ice time, he could be among the rookie scoring leaders.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Baertschi has had a brutal preseason that’s sparked talk about sending him to the AHL as a reality check. Did the hype poison his mind?

[Slideshow: New faces, new teams]

Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because he has a professional year under his belt. Barkov scored 48 points in 53 games in Finland’s top pro league last season. He’s a tremendous offensive talent, and lord knows the Calder loves offense.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: As Jonathan Huberdeau discovered last season, the Panthers don’t exactly have a full cupboard of offensive weaponry to boost a rookie’s scoring numbers. Barkov played with Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann in the preseason.

Jonathan Drouin, F, Tampa Bay Lightning

Why He Will Win The Calder: His incredible vision and puck skills, already on display in the preseason, could prove lethal is he sees time with Steven Stamkos and/or Marty St. Louis.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Because as coach Jon Cooper said, “The jump from junior to the NHL is a massive one.” As much as Drouin could thrive in the NHL, the Bolts might be content to send him back to Halifax. But if he stays, there may not be another player better set up to win the Calder.

Filip Forsberg, F, Nashville Predators

Why He Will Win The Calder: Forsberg has earned praise for his play in the open ice and in the “small areas” against the wall, which isn’t always an easy transition for a European rookie star. He’s clicked with David Legwand and Gabe Bourque in the preseason.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Can a Nashville Predators player put up the offensive numbers that are necessary to dazzle Calder voters?

Tomas Hertl, F, San Jose Sharks

Why He Will Win The Calder: The 19-year-old has size and toughness, and has showed some promise in the preseason skating with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Which is a pretty plum spot for a rookie. Raffi Torres’s injury may have cemented a spot for him on the opening night roster.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Can the No. 17 pick from 2012 make the leap from Slavia Praha HC in the Czech league to the NHL, without AHL seasoning?

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Boone Jenner, F, Columbus Blue Jackets

Why He Will Win The Calder: He’s going to get plenty of notice for his physical play, and he’s been skating with the BJ’s top line of Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Coming out of the gate as a top-liner is an accomplishment. Remaining there if the team struggles offensively is a different story.

Seth Jones, D, Nashville Predators

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because he could see significant minutes with the Preds this season, and if he has any semblance of success he’ll be hyped to the moon by the media.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Knowing he’s the future of the blue line, the Predators might take his development more slowly than at a ‘winning the Calder’ clip.

Chris Kreider, F, New York Rangers

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because we refuse to believe that 7-point performance in the 2012 playoffs was an anomaly.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Because maybe his underwhelming play wasn’t just a John Tortorella thing.

Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because defensemen need to score to win the Calder and Krug has shown he can light it up, especially on the power play. Defenseman also need hype, too, and, well, perhaps you saw how the Boston media built Dougie Hamilton into the love child of Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr at the start of last season.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: The Boston top four is solidified, so Krug will be trying to win the Calder with third-pairing ice time.

Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

Why He Will Win The Calder: Besides his obvious offensive skills, MacKinnon is going to be on a team filled with players with whom he could really click. First up: Veteran winger P.A. Parenteau, who previously helped a young John Tavares find his offensive swagger on Long Island.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Only two first-overall picks at the forward spot have won the Calder in the last 20 years – Alex Ovechkin (2004) and Patrick Kane (2007). Needless to say, MacKinnon might not get their ice time this season considering what the Avs have up front.

Ryan Murphy, D, Carolina Hurricanes

Why He Will Win The Calder: The loss of Joni Pitkanen opens up the chance for Murphy to be an impact puck-moving defenseman this season and quarterback the power play.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Even if he has the offensive numbers, one could see Murphy with a rather ghastly plus/minus that might turn off voters.

Ryan Murray, D. Columbus Blue Jackets

Why He Will Win The Calder: The No. 2 overall pick in 2012 was a point-per-game defenseman in junior and could have the offensive numbers necessary to win the Calder. He’s skated with James Wisniewski in the preseason.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Depending on what Jenner does, he might not even be the best rookie on the team.

Valeri Nichushkin, F, Dallas Stars

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because the 6-4 scorer has an immediate star quality when you watch him play, and is already building a YouTube résumé of killer moves.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Three reasons – Alex Burmistrov, Nikita Filatov and Alex Radulov. We’ve seen this Russian-language movie before; can Nichushkin be the exception?

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because eventually this possessor of offensive wizardry is going to blossom into the fully fledged No. 1 center Jets fans have been waiting for.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Because I really hate spelling his name. But also because he won’t be handed any role he hasn’t earned, and Coach Claude Noel has made noise about being a third-liner as the next evolution of Scheifele’s maturation process. It’s as possible he opens at the No. 2 center as it is that he opens playing with checkers.

Ryan Strome, F, New York Islanders

Why He Will Win The Calder: Because he’s instant offense, and because moving to the wing means he could end up skating with John Tavares. Who is, from what our scouts tell us, pretty damn good. At the very least, Strome could earn power-play points this season.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: Strome is still finding his way defensively on the wing and isn’t cemented in the top six coming out of camp.

Tyler Toffoli, F, Los Angeles Kings

Why He Will Win The Calder: He’s being groomed as a top six winger, and offered a tantalizing five points in 10 games last season.

Why He Won’t Win The Calder: We’d be higher on him if he was slotted as a left wing, and area of need for the Kings, but Coach Darryl Sutter flipped him back to the right side.

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