Is Johnny Gaudreau now Calder Trophy frontrunner?

Is Johnny Gaudreau now Calder Trophy frontrunner?

Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames did last night as Johnny Gaudreau has done recently: He put up a multi-point game, with a goal and two assists in a win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

That’s his third multi-point game in his last five games, having put up a goal and two helpers against the Toronto Maple Leafs and two goals in that wild comeback win over the Anaheim Ducks.

But Thursday night's game did something else for Johnny Hockey: It put him one point up on Filip Forsberg for the NHL lead in points for a rookie, the first time he’s led the league this season and the first time Forsberg hasn’t led the league in several months.

Gaudreau has 56 points in 70 games. Forsberg has 55 points in 72 games. They both trail Mike Hoffman (24) and Anders Lee (23) in goals by rookies, as Forsberg has 21 and Gaudreau has 20.

Forsberg’s output has slowed to a crawl, not coincidentally at the same time the Predators are in a freefall in the Central Division. He has assists in consecutive games, but overall has just one goal and three assists in his last 14 games, slamming into the rookie wall like a racquetball.

So he’s now chasing Gaudreau for the rookie points lead, and probably the Calder.

The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, goes to a player who meets two criteria: He leads the league in either rookie goals or points for his position, and has the requisite amount of hype.

Forsberg’s hype for the award was tied to his place in the point standings and his team’s place in the standings. Gaudreau has had a bit more hype, due to his style of play, the “Johnny Hockey” trademark drama and the fact that he wanted to light his stick on fire at the All-Star Game.

But he also has the numbers: The best Corsi-Close for any Flames forward on a bad possession team, also Forsberg drives possession as well.

There are X-factors here. Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad might be having a rookie season for the ages with 35 points and 22:14 TOI, but John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars is stealing a little of his thunder (36 points, 21:37 TOI, but 16 fewer games). Michael Hutchinson is 20-9-5 in 34 starts for the Winnipeg Jets, but that .913 isn’t stellar.

The Calder could still end up with Forsberg if he has a strong finish, but that would depend on Gaudreau falling off the pace; and frankly, the Flames winger has played his best hockey in the last month.

As Kent Wilson wrote: “Crazy thing about Gaudreau is he only had 3 points in first 9 games. Since then, he has scored at a 71 point pace.”

Check out more on Gaudreau’s rookie season at Flames Nation.