A strong finish is what Connor McDavid needs in order to potentially secure himself as the first Oilers player to win the Calder, as NHL rookie of the year. After Connor went down with a broken collarbone, it almost seemed evident that the 24 year old Russian, Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks, was going to runaway with the Calder race. While many critics and fans still think this to be the case (as he sits first among all rookies in scoring with 63 points) I believe Connor McDavid, if he stays as hot as he has been since coming back from injury, deserves the Calder.
There are many different arguments to take into consideration. Let’s break down Connor’s Calder case.
Connor McDavid entered the NHL as an 18 year old. He’s been playing minutes with players that are older than him and he is the reason his linemates are finding success this season. He makes the players around him better and brings confidence to the locker room. His speed is unfathomable and his size, strength and puck possession skills, are at an elite level.
While Artemi Panarin shows signs of great puck skills, vision and a good shot, the Russian found a home alongside the NHL’s leading scorer in Patrick Kane. He is also 24 years old and is a lot more matured at a professional level because of his KHL experience. My argument is that Panarin doesn’t make Kane better, Kane makes Panarin better. The opposite of what McDavid is providing for a very youthful locker room in Edmonton.
McDavid single-handedly could change the Edmonton Oilers future. The Oilers need a player like McDavid whereas I personally feel that the Chicago Blackhawks could still thrive without their 24 year old rookie.
Although Artemi is blowing away all other rookies in the NHL rookie scoring race with 63 points (which is 14 points ahead of Jack Eichel who currently sits in second in rookie scoring) he’s achieved this in 71 games played. McDavid is sitting at 40 points in 38 games, thus showing he is producing at a better rate with what most would agree is a weaker supporting cast.
McDavid has also found the score sheet more often than not producing over a point per game.
|Connor McDavid Points By Game|
|3+ Point Games||3|
|2 Point Games||6|
|1 Point Games||17|
|0 Point Games||12|
Since the All-Star break Connor McDavid has been one of the hottest players in the NHL. Teams have a tough time containing his imposing stature and it’s hard to deny his presence on the ice.
|Most Points Since All-Star Break|
*as of 2016-03-18 numbers have since improved
McDavid is producing at a clip in line with some of the NHL’s best and is displaying the kind of consistency that is unheard of at such a young age.
There’s no doubt that Shayne Gostisbehere is also in the running for NHL rookie of the year and while I think he’s a very influential and important piece to the Flyers puzzle, I just don’t think he’s up to par with Artemi Panarin and Connor McDavid. Eastern media may vote heavily for Gostisbehere but with an NHL so heavily dominated by the Western Conference I don’t see him taking home the Calder.
If I were a GM and was told I could have any player I wanted to build a team around, it would be McDavid. Yes, even at the young age of 19. It would be without hesitation, the kid is flawless.
Connor McDavid is a player that comes around once a decade with the skill and poise to take the league by storm. It will be sooner rather than later that the kid takes his place as the face of the National Hockey League. The Calder will simply be a small stepping stone to what will surely be an illustrious career for the Edmonton Oilers youngster.