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Breaking Down The NHL's Calder Trophy Race

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Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, and Michael Grabner all have a case to win the NHL's Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Who makes the best argument? And will Chicago's Corey Crawford crash the party?

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Since December, we've been hearing the phrase "one of the leading Calder Trophy candidates" alongside the names Logan Couture and Jeff Skinner. Taylor Hall shook off a slow start to throw his hat into the ring, only to see his chances blow up with a season-ending injury, and in January, Michael Grabner started to grab his own momentum. He's turned into the leading rookie goal-scorer, along with being one of the driving forces for the New York Islanders, who, if you haven't noticed, actually have a decent record in the second half.

With about 10 games left in the season for each team, I think it's safe to try and zero in on each player and debate the Calder winner. Currently, Grabner has the most goals and the fewest assists -- a Cy Young-esque record that makes sense considering how injured and young the Islanders are. While Couture and Skinner are complimentary pieces to their (somewhat underachieving) puzzles, Grabner provides an interesting case as he's one of the driving forces for the Islanders.

However, Skinner is the overall points leader for rookies, and Couture has the second-most goals but significantly more assists than Grabner. In short, they've all got their own arguments for the Calder Trophy -- but who's been the most consistent overall?

Here are each player's stats broken down into monthly segments, with the best player noted for each month.

October -- Skinner

Skinner: 10 GP, 3G, 4A
Couture: 9 GP, 4G, 0 A
Grabner: 7 GP, 2G, 1A

November -- Skinner

Skinner: 14 GP, 4G, 8A
Couture: 14 GP, 4G, 5A
Grabner: 11 GP, 3G, 2A

December -- Couture

Couture: 15 GP, 10G, 4A
Skinner: 12 GP, 2G 5A
Grabner: 14 GP, 3G, 0A

January -- Grabner

Grabner: 13 GP, 7G, 3A
Skinner: 14 GP, 5G, 5A
Couture: 11 GP, 4G, 2A

February -- Grabner

Grabner: 14 GP, 10G, 6 A
Couture: 11 GP, 3G, 8A
Skinner: 13 GP, 4G, 3A

March (so far) -- Grabner

Grabner: 9 GP, 4G, 3A
Skinner: 9 GP, 3G, 2A
Couture: 10 GP, 2G, 2A

Is it about how you start or how you finish? Couture and Skinner both peaked in the middle of the season, playing at a bit of a bell curve pace. While all three have done less in March, Grabner has ramped up as the season went on.

Also, the quality of linemates has to be factored into play here. Couture has spent time on lines with Olympians like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, and Joe Pavelski. Skinner has bounced around a bit but he's still spent a good chunk of his time with Eric Staal and/or Tuomo Ruutu. Grabner's on a very young Islanders team that's spent most of the season in flux while handling a coaching change and a mountain of injuries.

You can't go wrong with either of these three players, but if Grabner finishes the last ten-game segment strong, his gradual build might win him the prize in Las Vegas.

The x-factor in all of this is Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks, who's done an admirable job in helping Chicago fans forget Antii Niemi. Crawford's had a rough start, then come on strong, then faltered a little bit. In a little bit of a twist, his numbers actually jumped up (in the wrong way) after the All-Star break, yet his win percentage rose -- and that syncs up with the Hawks finding their stride after looking done in early February.

There's no doubt that Crawford is Chicago's starter, and his numbers are impressive for even a veteran goalie. Will Calder voters overlook Crawford due to his being a goaltender or will he throw off the Skinner-Couture-Grabner debate that's been going on for much of the season?