The NHL season is just around the corner and the league and its fans are already a buzz with who could win the Calder trophy for Rookie of the Year.
Every year the NHL awards a rookie with the Calder Memorial Trophy, named after the NHL’s first president Frank Calder. The award is handed out every year based off votes from the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). The PHWA is made up of media members from across the globe including Pierre LeBrun, Frank Seravalli, and Elliotte Friedman. However not just anyone can win the Calder.
What are the rules of the Calder Trophy?
The Calder trophy can’t just go to anyone though, rules are in place so only those most deserving can even be put in the running. First a player must not have reached their 26th birthday by September of the season in question. Second and arguably the most important is that the player cannot have played more than 25 games in the previous season or have played 6 in each of the past two seasons. These rules do still garner some controversy, as the league gets younger and more players spend time overseas before broaching the NHL fans have called for the age to be lowered.
This has been especially a hot button issue in the past two seasons when Michael Bunting was selected as a finalist even though he was 26 and had spent the past two years in the NHL and had spent even more time in the AHL. His selection wasn’t the only or most controversial selection in the past two seasons as Kiril Kaprizov won in the 2020-21 season. While he was under the 26 age limit as well as games played, he had spent the previous six years in the KHL, one of the premier professional leagues in the world that isn’t in North America. Yes, both players deserved a nod, and Kaprizov was far and away the best rookie that season (under the current rules), he did steal a spot from another deserving rookie who hadn’t spent the past half a decade playing professional hockey.
What Kraken players are eligible?
The Seattle Kraken actually have a wealth of young players/rookies who could potentially win the Calder Trophy this year. However out of the eight players eligible only half are currently signed to a pro contract. The four players are forwards Jacob Melanson, Ryan Winterton, Shane Wright, and Matty Beniers. Out of those four only one has played a game in a Kraken uniform (Beniers) and only one other is projected to make the lineup (Wright). However all of that is subject to change come the start of the regular season. For now though let’s look at the two most likely Kraken candidates for the Calder trophy.
Beniers is one of the most exciting players to watch this season and he most definitely has a shot at winning the Calder. He is a power-forward in every sense of the word coming in at 6′ 2″ and around 170-80 lbs. He’s already shown his ability to play in the bigs after his ten game stint in the NHL at the end of last year after his Michigan Wolverines season was over. In those ten games he posted three goals and six assists. He even spent some time in Beijing last year at the Winter Olympics where he got a chance to show off his skills on the international level. He’s currently ranked third amongst rookies in Calder odds and he will most certainly continue to put up a show during his first full season in the NHL.
The Kraken landed a jackpot at the Entry Draft this year when projected first overall pick Shane Wright dropped to fourth and subsequently the NHL’s newest franchise. Wright has yet to play a game in the NHL but his ceiling is high. Standing at 6′ 0″ and 198lbs he’s sure to use his talent and weight to make his name known in the NHL. In his only season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Wright was the captain of the Kingston Frontenacs putting up 32 goals, 62 assits in just 63 games played. He already has an OHL rookie of the year award under his belt and adding a Calder trophy to that list would help boost his already glowing resumé.
The Kraken candidates have tough competition with first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky, Buffalo’s Owen Power, Anaheim’s Mason McTavish, and Rangers Vitali Kravtzov all vying for the same award. However Kraken rookies Beniers and Wright have a good shot themselves when it comes to winning the Calder Trophy this year.