At the beginning of the week, the NHL announced its three finalists for the Calder Trophy, which is handed to the league’s top rookie.
Of course, “top rookie” typically means “rookie with the most points”. So it should come as no surprise that the three finalists for the award, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Brendan Gallagher, were three of the top offensive rookies this season.
Basing awards off of points, as the NHL probably does, can be accurate at times, but leaves out some of the more effective players that didn’t necessarily make a huge impact on the stat sheet. Which has left Jonas Brodin out in the cold in this Calder Trophy talk.
In terms of pure play on the ice, taking numbers out of the equation, Brodin may have been the best rookie this season. You could make a case for the likes of Saad, and probably even Gallagher, but no first-year player was handed as large of a role as Brodin took on with the Minnesota Wild.
Playing next to Norris Trophy finalist Ryan Suter, Brodin has logged more minutes than any other rookie skater in the league. He played in all situations, playing over 23 minutes a game. He was second in penalty kill time on the roster, behind only Suter, and was fourth among defensemen in power play time.
Brodin finished the season with 11 points, nine of them being assists. There’s no doubt that playing next to Suter, one of the league’s best defensemen, certainly helped him. But the fact that a first-year player was able to log as much ice time as Brodin did, playing in every situation, makes him more valuable to the Wild than a lot of veterans.
There are probably no playoffs for the Wild without Brodin. Could the clubs for Saad or Gallagher say the same thing? It’s nothing worth getting outraged about, since it only comes down to points anyway, but there’s no doubt that Brodin should have been in the mix for the Calder.