November 02, 2010
Look, no one's going to remember who won the NHL Rookie of the Month honor for October by the time they hand out the Calder Trophy in June.
You know who won it last year? Michael Del Zotto(notes) of the New York Rangers, who went on to finish eighth in the Calder voting. What about 2008? That would be Derrick Brassard of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who would later finish 19th in the voting.
With its relative importance established, know this: The wrong guy won it last month.
We're not trying to say Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth(notes) will be an also-ran for the Calder or that his 7-3-0/2.15 GAA/.926 save percentage performance in October doesn't warrant rookie of the month honors.
Context is important when it comes to rookies. The youth and inexperience of Tyler Myers(notes) and Matt Duchene(notes) made them more compelling candidates for the Calder than 26-year-old Jimmy Howard(notes) last season. Neuvirth is 22, an AHL champion and a player with 22 NHL games to his credit before his "rookie year." Eberle is 20 and played 20 games in the AHL before debuting for the Oilers in October.
The other facets of that context: Eberle's sublime first NHL goal served as a calling card for his rookie season; he's become one of the best penalty killers in the NHL; and, most important of all, he's grabbed the headlines from his more famous teammate this season, the one with the No. 1 overall draft pick sweater.
Again, not an argument we're going to the mattresses over. Neuvirth deserved it. Eberle deserved it a bit more. We'll ask again in June when either John Carlson(notes) and P.K. Subban(notes) win the Calder.