The NHL 2021-22 season is in full swing and some rookies have jumped out like Calder Trophy competitor. To keep you up to date, we at The Hockey Writers created the Calder Trophy Tracker, who is truly the NHL’s top rookie this season. This will be updated and published monthly and will act as a set of power rankings for the prize pool.
Last season, Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Nedeljkovic and Jason Robertson were selected as finalists for the award with Minnesota Wild’s Kaprizov eventually winning it. 2021-22 is supposed to be the Cole Caufield year of Montreal-Canadians. Instead, it’s time for Lucas Raymond to shine. He has been all and more for the Detroit Red Wings and is a frontrunner for the award.
Since our last update, Raymond has not slowed down and is currently leading all rookies in scores. Other players have also stepped up and entered the ring as possible candidates. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the key five as we head into December.
5. Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils)
Since our last update on November 7, Dawson Mercer scored three goals and nine points in 12 games and is currently fifth in the rookie scoring table. He continues to impress with his all-round game and has become a bit of a fan favorite in New Jersey. With Jack Hughes leaving at the start of the season, he has become one of their most important players.
Mercer has scored in half of the games he’s played this season, and it’s hard to ignore when he’s on the ice – and it’s not because of his hair. He is responsible for power in both the offensive and defensive areas. Over time, the coaching staff gave him opportunities for power play and free kicks.
Playing in the same row as Andreas Johnsson and Jesper Bratt, Mercer quickly established himself as a serious NHLer with a bright future. He plays the game to the fullest and, as Kristy said, is almost noticeable every time he’s on the ice. At just 20 years old, he’s already become a huge part of a growing core that now includes Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes and Alexander Holtz.
Mercer is a highly regarded lead when it comes to drafts because of his unique skill pack and invisible abilities. His two-way play is solid, he plays the game with relentless predictability and he’s a great personality. So it’s no surprise that he went on to achieve success early in his NHL career.
4. Michael Bunting (Toronto Maple Leafs)
After a relatively slow start to the month, Michael Bunting played explosively and is now a main contender for the Calder Trophy championship. With nine points in his last six games, including his first three assists against the Colorado Avalanche on December 1, he was recently featured for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yes, he plays with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or William Nylander most of the time, but that doesn’t detract from what he’s done so far.
Like Zach Hyman before him, Bunting is doing nasty work in the corners for the superstars on the Maple Leafs. He is a great seer with a penchant for drawing punishment and have the skill to end the turn. Essentially, he’s the perfect complement to the star power of Matthews, Marner, and Nylander.
I hang out with both of those guys quite often. So playing with them on the ice, it’s fun. I was just trying to open, trying to get pucks and let them play with their magic. And right now, we’re rolling.
Michael Bunting while playing with Matthews, Marner and Nylander
Bunting may still be a long shot to win against Calder, but with him playing in Toronto (aka Canada’s media capital), there’s always a chance he’ll get enough votes to make it through. Raymond. Who knows, he might even catch him by points too long before that. In the end he was only three points away.
3. Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings)
All Moritz Seider What it has done since being drafted is to make Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman look like a genius. Unexpectedly chosen in sixth place overall in a class that included highly regarded prospects like Philip Broberg, Victor Soderstrom and Cam York, Stevie Y decided to swing over the fence and pick a guy from Germany ranked by many to advance to the second round.
Turns out Yzerman knows what he’s doing because Seider is now the best defender the Red Wings have in their list. He broke the record for most points scored by a rookie defender in his first 10 games and is currently ranked third in terms of rookie scores. He is also trusted by head coach Jeff Blashill as he is second only to Filip Hronek in average ice time with 22:32 per game.
Two of Seider’s three goals were winners in extra time and he started to develop a bit of a swagger as the Red Wings continued to surprisingly climb the leaderboard. Why not? The continued success of the Winged Wheel is due to production and contributions from the two-headed Swedish monster Seider and Raymond. So he deserves to go around with a jump in his step.
He’s a really talented player… Polite, cocky, that’s very important for any type of player who wants to be an elite player. You have to have swagger and he has it.
Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings head coach (from ‘Rookie Moritz Seider, Red Wings develop swagger as wins pile up’, Detroit News, 12/5/21)
Seider has all the tools of an elite top pairing blueliner. Surprisingly at just 20 years old, the future could be filled with not only the Calder Trophy but also a few Norris Cups.
2. Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Duck)
The Anaheim Ducks were spotted this season after rolling around at the bottom of the rankings for the past few years. The key to success are two young players named Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras. In the first version of this tracker, I called Zegras a disappointment because he didn’t score many points. I guess he took my word for it because since then he has 4 goals and 16 points in 11 games and has overtaken many rookies to become the second most productive player after Raymond. In fact, thanks to his attack boost, he’s currently level on points with him.
Playing mainly in attack with Rickard Rakell and Sonny Milano, Zegras has returned to the dominant form everyone saw last season. His play has shown through 15 assists in 24 games and he hasn’t even played against Terry, who currently leads the team with 15 goals. He may have been at the back of the pack when this tracker first launched, but thanks to his strong November, he’s on the cusp of overtaking Raymond. If he keeps up this kind of production, I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out on top when this chart is released in January.
1. Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings)
Currently leading all rookies in terms of goals, Lucas Raymond has been all and more for the Detroit Red Wings so far this season. He had his first NHL hat trick under the belt and the first night he had four points after scoring three against the Chicago Blackhawks and defending Vezina Trophy champion Marc-Andre Fleury.
It must be said that Raymond is already a surprising addition to the Calder Trophy proceedings will be a big statement. Going into the 2021-22 season, it is not even certain that he will feature in the Red Wings squad let alone play consistently in the front line and play power in the first division. He’s currently their best player and one of the reasons why the Wings are in a playoff spot right now and will likely win the Calder Trophy at the end of the season.
Rookies on the Cusp
- Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Duck)
- Anton Lundell (Florida Report)
- Tanner Jeannot (Nashville Predator)
- Jonathan Dahlen (San Jose Shark)
- Rem Pitlick (Minnesota Wild)
- Seth Jarvis (Storm Carolina)
You might also like:
That does it for the first version of Calder Trophy Tracker 2021-22. Who will come out on top in January? Will Raymond hold on to the lead for the third consecutive month or will Zegras or Seider overtake him? Stay tuned for the next update to find out, and as always, if you disagree with anyone on the list, let us know in the comments section below!
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes the Vancouver Canucks hockey, NHL Draft, and general outlook. He likes to talk about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and NHL Draft fans and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts listed under his photo at the end of the article. love this about Tyler Motte.
https://thehockeywriters.com/2021-22-nhl-calder-trophy-tracker/ 2021-22 Calder Trophy Tracker – Updated December