Well before the players have a chance to lace up their skates and the first puck of the season is dropped, I am going to place a sizable bet out on the table… neither of the top picks, Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall will win the Calder Trophy next year as the “player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” I’m can also say, without uncertainty, that the claim goes double for talented prospects Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo.
Now, you might ask why none of these excellent prospects have a shot at winning the Rookie of the Year, even before the season has begun, and the answer is simple… “Captain America” will answer the call. John Carlson, aka “The Real American Hero”, aka “Adam Banks‘ doppelganger”, will win the Calder Trophy hand over fist. The logic for my bet is simple, at each level of play and for every adverse situation he has been placed in, Carlson has risen to the challenge with exceptional results. It’s this raw ability, to continue to elevate his game to the next level, that will capture all the eyes of the media and the PHWA next season. Unlike the other prospects, who are all incredibly talented, the deck is already stacked in Carlson’s favor.
As opening day approaches, it is becoming more and more likely that we can expect few changes to the Washington blue line. What that means for Carlson is not only will he see a lot more minutes next season (I’m wagering somewhere in the 20:50 TOI/G with 2:30 coming on the Power Play), but he will also get a look at a lot of high pressure situations. This is actually a good thing for him as we have seen him perform consistently well- especially in make-or-break situations– and all eyes are on Washington and it’s defense after their President’s Trophy winning season. While the other prospects will have the pressure of simply making the squad, none of the above players will have such an excellent opportunity to garner attention and praise from the media for his excellence on both sides of the puck (I’m also predicting 14 goals and 41 assists).
All of these factors add up to a win for both Washington, who are in need of an improved defense, and Carlson, who is looking to start a promising and long career in the NHL.