The NHL has every intention in trying to finish out the regular season and have a playoffs to cap off the 2019-20 season. However, with the unknown nature of the quickly changing COVID-19 virus, the season already has been suspended and could be pushed back further and further to avoid players contracting the virus. There has been talk of a drop-dead date as the league doesn’t want the 2019-20 to interfere with the 2020-21 season, which could make the regular season expendable if things begin to extend further and further into the summer. If the regular season ended on March 11, who would walk away as the league’s top rookie?
At midseason, it looked like an obvious choice as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar dominated the first half of the season after coming over from UMass-Amherst last season. The 21-year-old had a dominant 11 goals and 37 points in 41 games before the all-star break. While his numbers dipped slightly, Makar has still been impressive in a much more limited second half. He did miss five games with an upper-body injury in late February where Colorado lost three of those five games, yet he still had a goal and 13 points in 16 games since the break. In total, however, Makar currently has 12 goals and 50 points in 57 games, an impressive feat for a rookie blueliner.
While Makar seemed like the inevitable choice early on, Vancouver Canucks rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes came on late to have his own impressive season. Hughes has been a solid addition to a Canucks defense at the end of last season as he came out of the University of Michigan. While he had solid numbers in the first half, with five goals and 34 points in 48 games before the all-star break, he did explode in February with 15 points in 13 games and tallied eight goals and 53 points in 68 points. While Makar might have had a better points-per-game average, it was Hughes who provided the healthier player on the ice.
There are several other candidates who will receive some consideration, including Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik, who scored 30 goals already in just 68 games in his first season in North America. The 24-year-old had spent his entire career overseas in the Czech League and the NLA, but adjusted to North American skating rinks quickly and was a key piece to the Blackhawks’ squad.
Several goalies dominated this season, but New Jersey Devils goalie MacKenzie Blackwood so far has a 22-14-8 record on a struggling Devils team. While he did post a 2.77 GAA, his save percentage suggests that he has been a dominant netminder for the Devils this season at .915.
So, if the regular season ended today, who would be the Calder Trophy winner?
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