It’s almost impossible to predict which rookies are going to flourish in their first NHL season this early in the season, but we’re going to do it anyways. This rookie field is seen as somewhat mundane and boring compared to the past few years, but that almost makes these predictions more fascinating. Without a clear number one Calder contender like Auston Matthews was last year, it leaves the door wide open.
There are many external factors that weigh on a rookie’s ability to perform to their potential. From ice time hits to new linemates and foreign roles on a new team — it’s an uphill battle to be a consistently solid rookie for an entire season. Here are a few that could make a run at the trophy.
Victor Mete, D, Montreal Canadiens
Not many people predicted that the 100th overall pick in the 2016 draft would even crack the Canadiens roster, nevermind actually be a Calder contender. The smooth-skating defenceman had 44 points in 50 games last season for the London Knights in the OHL.
He’s not an overpowering presence, to say the least (he sits at 5’9 184lbs) but he could shine in his current role on the first D pairing with Shea Weber. You need an overpowering shot when you play beside a gunslinger like Weber. Mete is shutting down top lines and seeing time on the power play — if he stays consistent at these roles he will surely be a force to be reckoned with.
Jake DeBrusk, LW, Boston Bruins
After spending the entire 2016-2017 season in the AHL with the Providence Bruins and tallying 49 points in 74 games, DeBrusk has been a force thus far with Boston. He has two goals and two assists in five games and is a player that demands the puck when he’s on the ice.
Playing on the same line as David Krejci and David Pastrnak has only elevated his confidence and overall play. The 15th overall draft choice in 2015 could be the Calder darkhorse if he can remain healthy and stay consistent enough to remain on the line he’s playing on right now.
Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks being in full rebuild mode will benefit Brock Boeser significantly. He showed late last season after being called up from the University of North Dakota that he’s NHL ready by scoring six goals in just twelve games (counting the first few games of the 2017-2018 seasons as well).
He’s a legitimate candidate to lead the Canucks in goals this season, and at the rate he’s scored in his young career — the Calder trophy might not be that far-fetched.
Alex DeBrincat, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
DeBrincat is a special offensive talent that has been overlooked time and time again (looking at you US World Juniors). He’s just the second OHL player to ever have three straight 50 goal campaigns and is an absolute scoring wizard. If he can find a spot where he feels comfortable in the veteran-heavy lineup the Hawks possess, he could easily be a Calder contender by seasons end.
DeBrincat is dynamic in that he can play either wing, but with Chicago’s right wing depth lacking behind Patrick Kane, he should be able to make an immediate impact.