The Rangers have a Calder Trophy candidate

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For the last two seasons, the New York Rangers started the campaign with top candidates for the Calder Trophy.  In 2019, Kaapo Kakko was expected to battle Jack Hughes for the honor while last season it was Alexis Lafrenière who was virtually handed the award before the season started.

We all know how that worked out. Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche took home the award in 2020 and it was Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild last season.

It’s not unusual for the preseason favorites to not live up to expectations, but for the prior three years, the prognosticators were right.  Here are the consensus preseason picks and the eventual winners for the last 10 seasons:

  • 2021 – Preseason pick: Alexis Lafrenière, Rangers   – Winner: Kirill Kaprisov, Minnesota
  • 2020 – Preseason pick: Cale Makar, Colorado – Winner: Makar
  • 2019 – Preseason pick: Elias Pettersson, Vancouver – Winner: Pettersson
  • 2018 – Preseason pick: Mathew Barzal, Islanders – Winner:  Barzal
  • 2017 – Preseason pick: Auston Matthews, Toronto – Winner: Matthews
  • 2016 – Preseason pick: Connor McDavid, Edmonton – Winner: Artemi Panarin, Chicago
  • 2015 – Preseason pick: Jonathan Drouin, Tampa – Winner:  Aaron Ekblad, Florida
  • 2014 – Preseason pick: Ryan Strome, Islanders – Winner: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
  • 2013 – Preseason pick:  Nail Yakupov, Edmonton – Winner: Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
  • 2012 – Preseason pick: Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia – Winner: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado

The preseason favorite went on to win the award four times in 10 years, so nothing is guaranteed. It’s worth noting that in 2016, Artemi Panarin took home the award over Connor McDavid who missed half the season with a shoulder injury.  Second overall pick Jack Eichel played the full season but lost out to the Breadman.

One thing is for certain, the eventual winners of the Calder Trophy have all become legitimate NHL stars.   Meanwhile, some of the preseason favorites like Yakupov and Drouin have never lived up to expectations while some like Strome and Schenn have merely been solid NHL players.

So who are the top candidates for the title of best rookie?

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