The Calder

The Edmonton Oilers are extremely likely to have a strong rookie-of-the-year candidate in 2010-11. They have three outstanding prospects (Magnus Pääjärvi, Jordan Eberle, Chipper Jones) and enough job openings to make one believe anything is possible.

Some coaches/managers dole out minutes to rookies with a thimble, others are more generous. They key is being "NHL ready" which is something Oilers rookie forwards have rarely been over the last decade. Ales Hemsky came to the show early because the organization felt he could learn more in the NHL than playing another season in the Q. Sam Gagner arrived in TC fall 2007 fresh from an international tournament and weeks ahead of many others in terms of conditioning.

Craig MacTavish didn’t have a lot of "big minutes" rookies during his Edmonton coaching career. Here are his forwards, with their total time-on-ice in rookie seasons.

  1. Sam Gagner (07-08) 1238:31
  2. Andrew Cogliano (07-08) 1112:17
  3. Kyle Brodziak (07-08) 1033:24
  4. Jarret Stoll (03-04) 945:18
  5. Patrick Thoresen (06-07) 776:33
  6. Ales Hemsky (02-03) 712:12
  7. Jason Chimera (02-03) 710:06
  8. Marc Pouliot (06-07) 600:12
  9. Dom Pittis (00-01) 506:13
  10. Liam Reddox (08-09) 481:39
  11. Brad Winchester (06-07) 476:18
  12. Mike Comrie (00-01) 466:54
  13. Shawn Horcoff (00-01) 452:12
  14. Fernando Pisani (02-03) 375:18
  15. Jean Francois Jacques (06-07) 292:44
  16. Zach Stortini (06-07) 207:27
  17. Brian Swanson (00-01) 174:38
  18. Mike Bishai (03-04) 128:18
  19. Tony Salmlelainen (03-04) 125:27
  20. Michel Riesen (00-01) 118:53
  21. Jani Rita (02-03) 114:26
  22. Steve MacIntyre (08-09) 86:07

There were maybe 5 rookies who got big time playing time (the top 4 and Comrie when he signed) in their rookie seasons. Hemsky was given 153 minutes on the powerplay, a large portion of his rookie season. He was spotted too, meaning his chances of being a strong Calder candidate were dashed by not getting enough at-bats (even with only 712 minutes of ice-time, Hemsky finished 2nd in the NHL in rookie assists, 2002-03).

Of note here are the three rookies who played more than 1,000 minutes in 2007-08. Gagner, Cogliano and Brodziak got a lot of playing time in their first season, although only Gagner got big PP minutes (Cogliano got quite a few too, with Brodziak getting PK time).

Tom Renney handled rookies in a similar way in his time as head coach. In his 4 (well most of 4) seasons with the Rangers, Renney doled out the rookie minutes to forwards thusly:

  1. Brandon Dubinsky (07-08) 1188:59
  2. Dominic Moore (05-06) 1022:28
  3. Petr Prucha (05-06) 931:02
  4. Nigel Dawes (07-08) 792:04
  5. Lauri Korpikoski (08-09) 742:09
  6. Ryan Callahan (07-08) 643:29
  7. Ryan Hollweg (05-06) 376:40

Last season, NHL coaches gave 9 rookie forwards 1000+ minutes of time on ice. The Colorado Avalanche had three of them (Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, TJ Galiardi) and would probably be the template for this season’s Oilers crop up front. Duchene received an enormous amount of PP time and the other two were given extened auditions on the PK. I’m not certain if there’s a penalty-killer among the Oilers kids but we’ll see.

Finally, which of these kids is most likely to be the frontrunner on his own team? Desjardins NHL equivalenvies give us an educated look at the problem. Desjardins NHLE’s have impressive predictive power, but these three young players are very close in terms of potential offense:

  1. Jordan Eberle 22-24-46
  2. Taylor Hall 17-29-46
  3. Magnus Pääjärvi 16-22-38

None of them have shown themselves as "complete" players, offering a wide range of skills and giving the coach a trustworthy option in all areas. If I had to guess which of the three emerges as the strongest Calder candidate, it would be Taylor Hall. First overall means he’ll get all kinds of opportunity, his Desjardins NHLE is as impressive as Stamkos at the same age, left-wing is wide open on the Oilers and what better way to signal a new beginning than to see your first overall pick win the Calder the following season. It has "Gilbert Perreault" style appeal, a young organization going in the right direction. Finally, and perhaps most important, he is a "shooter" and that might give him a slight edge on the PP role that might be open for one rookie; however, the other two are no slouches in this department.

The truth is any of these three could win the Calder trophy in 2010-11.

  • SurfacetoAirMissile

    Lets not forget about Omark , whom might be most complete of bunch as well up front . Plante might even emerge on defence ? We certainly have an abundance of youth with credentials we have never seen in the past busting on to the scene at the same time perhaps. Not just one or two either !

    Might there even be more added to squad before season starts thru trade, etc.?

    Maybe the days of the MERCENARY hockey player fetish is over , or fast closing the doors to them ? More and more clubs are finding the temporary results of adding these Mercenary hockey players have short term gain followed by long term pain . Hossa leaves much devastation behind every where he leaves from if you have noticed , just like Pronger and the likes .

    In retrospect, maybe Oilers are better off not picking up some of these Mercenary hockey players , and building with a cheaper more stable draftees with upsides and more cap friendly ? A core that’s affordable and reliable to build around . One that you don’t have to gut to accommodate the huge contract length and cap shrinkage that the big ticket Mercenary hockey players seem to command .

    Will the market for the high priced Mercenary hockey players reduce itself in coming years to their final year of contracts , rather than risk having to keep them and gut your team as several have had to do to accommodate them ? The market place is a changing or reinventing itself slowly thru the cap system .

    I wonder if the Calder trophy can be shared by all 3 or more Oiler rookies – a tie in other words ?

  • Bar Qu

    For the record two things…

    1. I don’t think any of these guys will win it.

    2. In 5 years I think Eberle will be the best player of the lot and, hopefully, team captain.

    I Eberle’s hockey senses are second to none, he seems to have the right work ethic/attitude, he’s savvy during interviews and he knows magic!

    What’s not to love?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Well Hall was getting compared to Kane right before the draft so is 50-60 that far off? I’m thinking that 50-60 for all three off them is what is off.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Ya, I think it’s resonable to see 50 – 60 out of Hall.

        It’s guys throwing out:

        70 for Hall
        60 for Eberle
        55 for MSP

        that I’m talking about.

  • Bar Qu

    It may depend on how run-n-gun Renney lets things get. If he is more about getting his players to cover off for their porous defense, then their point totals may suffer. But if he lets go of the traces and gives some auditions on the PP to the rooks, then we might see a Calder winner.

    And for my money, I am going with the guy who has demonstrated success at each level – Eberle.

  • Cru Jones

    Nice to see that switching sites hasn’t diminished your capacity for posting double the content of everyone else combined Lowetide.

    For some reason, the one guy out of the three that I think might greatly exceed expectations is Eberle. He’s got less tangible tools than Hall or Magnus in the sense that’s he not especially big or fast, but he’s shown an uncanny knack for being in the right spot at the right time, which is a tool that just can’t be taught.