Lined up opposite the towering Buffalo defenseman was one of this year's top rookies in Boston sparkplug Brad Marchand.
Marchand entered the contest with 19-16-35 totals, four shorthanded goals and an impressive plus-23 rating. Those numbers would garner plenty of Calder consideration in most years, and may even have been enough to beat out Myers last season.
But this year's rookie crop is a little deeper. Not only is Marchand a long shot to take home rookie-of-the-year honors, he probably won't even make the all-rookie team at forward.
The infusion of new talent into the league this season has been particularly impressive up front. No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall is likely out of the Calder race after suffering a season-ending high-ankle sprain, but he still made his mark with 22-20-42 totals in 65 games.
Even without the injury, Hall would have been hard-pressed to overtake this year's other top candidates, especially a trio of fellow forwards. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford (26-13-4, 2.26 GAA, .917 save percentage) and defensemen like Washington's John Carlson, Anaheim's Cam Fowler, St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk, Montreal's P.K. Subban and even Boston's Adam McQuaid with his plus-27 rating have all enjoyed strong NHL debuts, but this is the year of the freshman forward.
None has been more surprising than the Islanders' Michael Grabner, a Panthers' castoff claimed on waivers who leads all rookies with 27 goals.
But Grabner is still in the shadow of two even more impressive rookie forwards. Carolina's teenage sensation Jeff Skinner leads all rookies in scoring with 23-26-49 totals through 67 games. He earned a spot in the All-Star Game before his hometown fans in Raleigh, but he's still running second in the Calder race in this writer's opinion.
Heading down the home stretch of the season, the trophy is Logan Couture's to lose. And judging from his rookie-best eight game-winning goals, losing isn't something Couture does often.
One of those game-winners came here at the Garden as he scored the only goal before a late empty-netter in a 2-0 nail-biter back on Feb. 5. Overall, Couture has 25-19-44 totals in 64 games. He also has a plus-17 rating compared to Skinner's minus-2. The Sharks have climbed to the top of the Pacific Division with a late surge, but the San Jose and Carolina records were comparable for much of the season.
Couture's clutch play sets him apart from the field at this point. There's still plenty of time for Skinner to overtake him, especially if can help the Hurricanes squeak into one of the final playoff spots in the East. But as the NHL heads into the final month of the season, Couture is at the head of this very special rookie class.
Is Logan Couture the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy? Share your thoughts below.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP