Editor’s note: Pat Holden has written about Caps hockey over at Brooks Laichyear since 2012. We’ve asked him to pitch in here at RMNB to smarten us up a bit. Please give Pat a warm welcome. Follow him on Twitter.
Alex Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year in 2006. That season, Ovechkin totaled 52 goals and 54 assist in 81 games. His 106 points is the 3rd highest total ever for a rookie.
But 2005-06 was also Sidney Crosby‘s rookie season. Crosby scored 39 goals and recorded 63 assists. According to Wikipedia, the only other time two rookies scored over 100 points in the same season was in 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne and Joe Juneau did it.
Voting for the Calder was not especially close. Ovechkin got 125 out of 129 first-place votes. He also received 4 second-place votes. Crosby got 4 first-place votes, 95 second-place votes, and a number of third- and fourth-place votes. Scoring 52 goals as a rookie is going to grab the attention of voters. Ovechkin’s highlight-reel goals and physical play were credited for helping him win the award nearly unanimously.
Advanced stats are more prevalent than ever before in the NHL, and are certainly more of a going concern than they were in the 2005-06 season. While many voters still pay them no mind, I want to take a look at how the Ovechkin’s and Crosby’s rookie seasons match-up from an advanced stats perspective.
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.
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