The Calder Candidates Are Here

Earlier today the NHL announced the candidates for this year’s Calder Trophy. After all putting up historical seasons, Michael Bunting, Trevor Zegras, and Moritz Seider are in the running for the prestigious rookie of the year award. All three of them had incredible seasons this year and first, we’re going to talk about my favorite to win it, Trevor Zegras.

I feel like half the blogs I’ve written about this kid in the frame of his first full NHL season have been about this kid blowing my mind with the way he moves on the ice. Of Trevor Zegras’s 23 goals scored this year, two of them were Michigan-style goals. Of his 38 assists, one of said assists was, hands down, the best one we saw this year. This season, he played in 75 games and had 61 points (23G 38A). He now has a career total of 99 games with 74 points (26G 48A) seeing as he played a little 24-game stint last season after finishing at BU and then winning the Gold World Juniors medal. He has been the rookie of the year to me, there isn’t a doubt in my mind. He was a fan favorite everywhere, he put on an absolute show at the All-Star games, and every night, he was making the Anaheim Ducks fun to watch. There is no other rookie that took the hockey world by storm like Trevor Zegras did this season.

We also have to talk about how dynamite the 21-year-old defender Moritz Seider was. I remember when he was surprisingly taken 6th overall at the 2019 draft and he just keeps proving why the Red Wings were right to take him early. He played in all 82 games this season, put up 50 points (7G 43A). Seider is the only rookie on this list to have not played in an NHL game before this season. He started at game one this season and played his heart out every single game. He made the Red Wings a dangerous team to play against. He registered 151 hits and led the rookie class in ice time by registering 23:03 on ice per game. Seider was a massive help on the Red Wings’ power play. Even when the team was struggling, he was out there putting on a show.

Last but not least we have Michael Bunting from the Toronto Maple Leafs. I have beef with him on this list the same way I did with Kirill last season. Bunting, who is a 26-year-old left-winger, played 5 games in the 2018-2019 season, 21 games in the 2020-2021 season, and finally another 79 games this season which somehow counted as his rookie year? It was one thing when Kirill came over from the KHL and played his rookie year in the NHL. Last season in Arizona should have counted as his rookie season. It wasn’t a little 5 game stint, he wasn’t joining the team after finishing up college or juniors, he wasn’t playing across the globe in Russia, he should have counted as a rookie then. He just moved to Toronto and all of a sudden he’s a rookie again? Don’t get me wrong, he had a phenomenal season. He put up 63 points (23G 40A) in 79 regular-season games. He saw big minutes with some of the best players in the NHL. Now, he’s still helping Toronto push for a second-round playoff appearance and he’s put up a goal and 2 assists in doing so. He’s a great player, I just wouldn’t count him as a rookie anymore.

It will really be a race to the finish for Seider and Zegras. They both had amazing seasons to start what’s bound to be superstar careers. No hate to Bunting, he was great this year, but he’s not a rookie in my mind.

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