NHL Notebook: Could Anaheim Ducks forward Leo Carlsson sneak into the Calder Trophy conversation?
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing1 month ago
The general consensus is Connor Bedard will be the runaway winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie, and rightly so.
Everything up to this point of his career — whether it be his days playing U18, or for the WHL’s Regina Pats, or on the national stage, or four games into his NHL career — show just how incredible of a talent he is.
But as Oilers fans know best, the top rookie trophy might not always go back to the one most deserving of it. cough Artemi Panarin over Connor McDavid cough.
In last year’s NHL draft, it was Bedard, then it was Leo Carlsson — a Swedish center who has displayed some elite talent of his own.
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As Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis wrote Friday, Carlsson is a highly underrated prospect, despite his draft status.
“Part of that boils down to the market he plays in, which is out of Carlsson’s control,” Ellis opined of the player who scored in his NHL debut Thursday. “He doesn’t have the flashy aspect to his game that saw Bedard become the top prospect in the world. He also didn’t have one of the best college freshman seasons to his name, either.
“Instead, Carlsson played an effective two-way game against men in one of the best pro leagues in the world – and thrived. He deserves your respect.”
Ellis describes Carlsson as a player who “plays a strong power-forward game, using his frame and overall strength to win puck battles,” and that he has “a cannon of a release.”
To me, that sounds a lot like a player Oilers fans know well: Leon Draisaitl.
Nonetheless, the road for Carlsson to be a Calder winner could be an arduous one. In Ellis’ eyes, however, “it’s Bedard’s Trophy to lose.”
“And while he’s showing some incredible signs, he’s not producing at an extreme rate or anything yet,” he said of Bedard. “Once Carlsson gets adjusted, you should expect results as long as he sticks with Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry.
“He’s such a fascinating forward in today’s NHL, where speed and skill are king. Mix Carlsson’s quick stride with his physicality, and you’ve got one heck of a force.
“Don’t sleep on Carlsson. He’s going to surprise you.”
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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