At the halfway mark, the Calder Trophy is Jeff Skinner’s to lose. There are a number of strong candidates, but Skinner is having a season to remember and is running away from the pack right now.
Skinner became the youngest NHL All-Star in history this weekend, and if you watched any of the festivities it became clear that he already owns Carolina. If he keeps this up, Skinner is a lock for the Calder, and it might not be the only hardware he wins in his career.
Here’s who has a shot at catching him:
- Logan Couture – Couture has 22 goals, four more than Skinner, and just may be San Jose’s most consistent offensive threat. While recognisable teammates Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau are all minus-14 or worse, Couture leads the Sharks with a plus-11 rating. For a team that has struggled mightily in the first half, Couture is producing at an impressive pace.
- Taylor Hall – Hall probably faced unrealistic expectations this season after the remarkable success of other top picks over the last few years. Nevertheless, he’s shown plenty of flashes and could be poised for a huge second half. He leads the woeful Oilers in goals and is one shy of the team lead in points.
- P.K. Subban – When it comes to acting the part of superstar, P.K. Subban is a finished product. But he’s endured some growing pains this season, and was even a healthy scratch a few times during the first half. However his talent is evident, and he was invaluable for Montreal during last year’s playoff run. Subban oozes personality though, and if he plays as well as he did at the end of last season during the second half, he’ll be hard to pick against.
- Derek Stepan – The centre went straight from the University of Wisconsin to the NHL and scored a hat trick in his first game with the Rangers. He followed that with an extremely quiet stretch, but really picked his game up when the Rangers were beset by injuries. Stepan is a bit of a dark horse, but he’s been a huge part of the Rangers’ revival.
- Sergei Bobrovsky – Bob came out of nowhere to win the starting job in Philadelphia at the outset of the season and was instrumental for the Flyers’ early success. He briefly lost the starting position to Brian Boucher, but lately Bobrovsky has gotten more playing time, and results. At some point Philly will settle on a starter, and if it’s Bob that leads them to the playoffs, he could steal the Calder.
- John Carlson – Washington has had its share of struggles in the first half, but the Capitals certainly can’t blame Carlson. He has just one less point than Mike Green and trails Nicklas Backstrom for the team lead in plus-minus by just two. Carlson is averaging almost 22 minutes a game for the Caps.
- Corey Crawford – When Chicago let Antti Niemi go via free agency, most assumed that free agent signee Marty Turco was set to be the team’s goalie going forward. After just a few weeks, Turco began ceding playing time to Crawford, and it wasn’t long before Crawford won the starting job outright. Crawford’s numbers in goal are as good as anyone’s, and he may just lead the Blackhawks deep into the playoffs.
Others: Tyler Ennis, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk
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