This year’s Calder Trophy race, for most outstanding rookie in the NHL, has been one not seen often. Usually it involves #1 overall picks like Nathan McKinnon or Austin Matthews coming into the league and dominating the season, leaving little in doubt. This year started on that path with 2017 5th overall pick F Elias Pettersson of the Canucks dominating out of the gate. As he cooled off mid season, an unknown in 2011 3rd round pick G Jordan Binnington burst onto the scene in St Louis. Let’s explore the merits of both candidates.
The Case For Elias Pettersson
Pettersson looked to have the hardware already placed on his shelf for most of this season. The highly touted rookie shattered expectations by making the Canucks out of camp and gaining national attention with his slick hands and quick release. He quickly became the MVP of Vancouver with 42 points in his first 37 games including 22 goals and 20 assists. At this time, the Canucks were in the playoff hunt, largely due to the 20 year old’s play. He has cooled off compared to his earlier play, especially in goal scoring with just 5 goals in his last 25 games, but still managed 19 points over that span. If the Calder were awarded to skaters (forwards and defense) he would be a lock as he leads the second place scorer bu 21 points.
The Case For Jordan Binnington
Although Pettersson was a surprise addition to the rookie pool today, there wasn’t event a betting line on Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington to start the season. The Blues were awful early on this season, largely due to poor goaltending from Jake Allen and Chad Johnson (now in Anaheim). Binnington was given a chance to first back up after Johnson was placed on waivers in December. Then in the new year he was given a few starts and quickly grabbed the reins of the goal in St Louis. In 22 starts he is 17-4-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .933 save percentage. Maybe more importantly, Binnington now has the Blues solidly in a playoff spot with 10 games to go.
And The Calder Trophy Goes To…
According to NHL.com The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. This is a tough vote, does it go to the player who leads his team in goals, assists and points as a rookie? Or does it go to a red hot goalie who dominated at his position and got his team back into the playoff picture? We aren’t forgetting that there are always three finalists for each trophy, but honestly it doesn’t matter who the third one will be, this is a two horse race. This vote comes down to whether Binnington’s value to his team outweighs Pettersson’s value to his. Our Winner – St Louis G Jordan Binnington.