Stuart Skinner is off to a tremendous start in his NHL career.
He drew in for 13 games in the 2021-22 season going 6-6 while posting a 2.62 GAA and a .913 save percentage. This year? He’s on a another level.
Through nine games played, he’s only posted a 4-4 record, but has a 2.52 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Among goalies who have played over five games, his GAA ranks 14th, and his save percentage third behind Connor Hellebuyck and Linus Ullmark.
He’s found himself in elite company to start the season and even though the wins aren’t there, there’s lots to like about his game. Steady Stu has been just that in the Oilers’ crease this season with all but one game having him face of 31 shots on goal. Three times already that’s hit the 42+ mark.
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The question we need to start asking is if Skinner could be a contender for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. If it happened, he would be the first Oilers player to ever do it.
The Oilers have found themselves close before. Connor McDavid was a third-place runner-up in 2015-16 and would’ve won it if he didn’t break his collarbone. He scored 16 goals and 48 points in just 45 games that year, but Artemi Panarin won because of the games played advantage. Shayne Gostisbehere, who finished second in voting, had a good year too.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a second-place runner-up in his 2011-12 rookie campaign. He also fell victim to the games played curse appeared in just 62 games. He did, however, score 18 goals and 52 points that season.
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Jason Arnott found himself second in the race to Martin Brodeuer in 1993-94. The future Hall-of-Fame goaltender narrowly edged out Arnott, who scored 33 goals and 68 points that season.
Lastly, Grant Fuhr finished third in voting in 1981-82. Ahead of him were Barry Pederson and Dale Hawerchuk, each of whom had tremendous rookie campaigns.
This year, Skinner will have some tough competition. Logan Thompson, Vegas’ starter, has played in 12 games going 9-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .925 save percentage. In terms of skaters, Matty Beniers, Shane Pinto, Mason McTavish and Jake Sanderson are among other players in contention for the title.
The edge is likely towards Thompson right now, and Skinner would have to make up some ground. Games played always plays a part in the vote, so either Thompson would have to miss some games, or the Oilers would have to roll with Skinner as the starter.
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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 protected]