Why you shouldn't make Calder Trophy projections so early

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Various publications are beginning their projections for the NHL awards now that we're a quarter of the way into the season, but projecting rookie of the year candidates this early is especially dicey, and here's why.

Every year around the 20 game mark of the NHL season, we begin to hear the talk about who the favorites are for the NHL's major trophies. That's all well and good with players like Sidney Crosby being an obvious Hart candidate every year, but it gets significantly less certain when prognosticators talk about the Calder Trophy.

Rookies are captivating in sports. They're new and exciting, often times doing things that are completely unexpected. Yet they're also adjusting to a brand new league, and having success can be extremely short lived.

Lately the talk for rookie of the year has been all about Tomas Hertl (18 points in 21 games), Sean Monahan (14 points in 21 games), Torey Krug (12 points in 21 games), and Seth Jones. Jones is the one that sticks out to me, because he's playing tough minutes with Shea Weber in Nashville and doesn't have the greatest traditional stat line with 8 points in 21 games and a -7 rating, but the other three happen to be the scoring leaders among rookies at the current moment.

Early last year Vladimir Tarasenko was the odds on favourite to be rookie of the year early, only to cool off and finish tied for ninth in scoring.

Last season at the 20 game mark, Cory Conacher was ripping it up with 18 points, then cooled off with only 11 points in his final 27 games. Contrast that with rookie of the year winner Jonathan Huberdeau, who managed just 12 points in his first 21 games, followed by 18 in 27.

Brandon Saad was a virtual unknown for Calder consideration 21 games into last season with only 5 points, then exploded for 22 points in 25 games.

Alex Galchenyuk was much the same, with only 14 points in his first 32 games of the season, then tearing it up for 13 points in his final 16 games.

And these examples are from a shortened season, a longer season is much different for kids breaking in. There's more time for slow starters to break out, and there's more time for quick starters to break down.

Two years ago Gabriel Landeskog won the Calder Trophy after a streak of 9 points in his first 20 games, and he also had an 18 game goal scoring drought. These things are extremely unpredictable, and it seems like a fools errand to start handing over honours this early into the season.

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