The Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov has been one of the better rookies in the NHL this season, and he’s certainly in the running to maybe take home the Calder Trophy. Several of the more highly touted rookies haven’t quite lived up to expectations, which leaves the field still wide open. By the nature of these kinds of awards, the winner tends to be the guy who played over his head the most and the longest. That means that the player who is on top now can easily regress and possibly even finish out of the top 10 at the en. Also, since it’s hard to compare players at different positions, the Goals Versus Threshold numbers that Behind The Net recently added are useful to put everyone on the same playing field. A little more than half-way through the season, here are some of the top contenders.
Jimmy Howard (G, Detroit Red Wings)
15-9 with a .927 save percentage and 1 shutout
Howard’s kind of come out of nowhere to take the starting job in Detroit. His GGVT has been +13.7, with another +0.7 on the shootout, for a total of 14.5 Goals Versus Threshold (rounding). The guy has a pretty good pedigree – he holds the NCAA records for GAA (1.19) and save percentage (.954) and he was named to the 2005–06 AHL All-Rookie team – but as a second-round pick from back in 2003, Howard certainly wasn’t someone people expected to be amongst the best rookies in the league this season. While it might be a little unlikely that Howard will be able to keep up this level of performance, if he is able to he might be rewarded with some hardware at the end of the year.
Tyler Myers (D, Buffalo Sabres)
6 goals, 20 assists, +8 plus/minus
The 2008 first-round pick and 2009 World Junior Gold Medal winner with team Canada has been equally good in both aspects of his game with a +3.4 Offensive GVT and a +3.4 Defensive GVT. With an additional +0.3 on the shootout, Myers’ +7.1 Goals Versus Threshold is top amongst all rookie skaters. If the goalies are dinged due to their position, then Myers is in excellent position to capitalize.
Semyon Varlamov (G, Washington Capitals)
12-1 with a .924 save percentage and 2 shutouts
Varly has missed some time, which has cut into his value. His Goalie Goals Versus Threshold is about +7.3 currently, and he’s been very good on the shootout at +2.7. His total GVT of 10 is a little lower than his ability might imply, but if he is able to stay on the ice for the majority of the second half he might be able to push that towards 25 for the season.
Niclas Bergfors (RW, New Jersey Devils)
13 goals, 14 assists, -3 plus/minus
Bergfors was drafted all the way back in 2005, but is getting his first real time in the NHL this year. He’s been good on offense with a +4.7 OGVT, but with a -4.8 relative plus/minus and a +0.8 DGVT his defense leaves a little to be desired. A +5.5 GVT is nothing to sneeze at though.
James van Riemsdyk (LW, Philadelphia Flyers)
10 goals, 16 assists, +5 plus/minus
Drafted second overall in 2007, JVR has done a good job scoring (+4.1 Offensive GVT) and defensively (+5.4 relative plus/minus, +1.3 DGVT), with a total Goals Versus Threshold of +5.4.
John Tavares (C, New York Islanders)
16 goals, 12 assists, -8 plus/minus
The first-overall pick from last year’s draft hasn’t been a dominant player yet. Despite the 28 points and the bad plus/minus, his Offensive GVT is just +2.8. His relative plus/minus is a much more mild -1.8, and his defensive GVT is in the positive territory at +1.0. Add in the -0.5 on shootouts, and Tavares’ 3.3 Goals Versus Threshold is only just OK – and probably a disappointment given the high expectations.
Also in play:
Michael Del Zotto (D, New York Rangers)
5 goals, 16 assists, -16 plus/minus, +2.1 OGVT, -9.7 relative plus/minus, +0.2 DGVT, +2.1 GVT
Evander Kane (LW, Atlanta Thrashers)
10 goals, 6 assists, +3 plus/minus, +1.4 OGVT, +4.6 relative plus/minus, +0.9 DGVT, +2.3 GVT
Jamie Benn (LW, Dallas Stars)
8 goals, 13 assists, -4 plus/minus, +2.3 OGVT, -1.7 relative plus/minus, +0.7 DGVT, +2.5 GVT
Matt Duchene (C, Colorado Avalanche)
11 goals, 16 assists, -12 plus/minus, +2.6 OGVT, -10.1 relative plus/minus, -0.2 DGVT, +1.5 GVT