Six Early Candidates for the Calder Trophy

On the eve of the regular season, most team's have their rosters set, or at least have a pretty clear picture of who will be starting with the big club. Let's take a look at some early candidates for the Calder trophy this year.
Jack Hughes
New Jersey Devils
1st overall pick (2019)

Who would've guessed this 1st overall pick with comparisons to Patrick Kane would be a front-runner for the Calder trophy this year? Hughes has already got a spot between newcomer Nikita Gusev and Jesper Bratt on the 2nd forward line, and I wouldn't be surprised if he moved up to the top line by Christmas. The young man had a stellar preseason, and will be given every opportunity to show the Devils what he can do.

Quinn Hughes
Vancouver Canucks
7th overall pick (2018)

The older brother to Jack Hughes, Quinn looks to be a cornerstone for the Canucks' defensive core for years to come. The 19-year old had a very promising end to the 2018-19 season with Vancouver, scoring three assists in five games. This season, he will likely begin on a pairing alongside Chris Tanev, and will be a key piece to Vancouver's 2nd power-play unit.

Kaapo Kakko
Right Wing
New York Rangers
2nd overall pick (2019)

Kakko will be under quite a bit of pressure at the start of the season, playing for a big-market team with playoff hopes after a very expensive off-season. Luckily, Kakko doesn't look like he'll disappoint the Rangers faithful. He's had a solid preseason, and will likely be paired with Artemi Panarin as the season goes on, giving him a massive opportunity to put up massive point totals. Not to mention he is very smart defensively, and can be an excellent two-way forward.

Cale Makar
Colorado Avalanche
4th overall pick (2017)

If it weren't for Cale Makar, I don't think Avalanche GM Joe Sakic would have even entertained the idea of trading Tyson Barrie. Makar jumped into the NHL starting at the beginning of the playoffs, and he performed admirably. In 10 playoff games, he collected a goal and five assists. The Avs are hoping Makar can take another step forward, and hopefully play a top-2 role by the midway point of the season. Thankfully, all signs point to him being capable of becoming a key piece of Colorado's current roster.

Rasmus Sandin
Toronto Maple Leafs
29th overall pick (2018)

A standout rookie in the AHL last season, Sandin was an excellent defence-man for the Toronto Marlies, especially for an 18-year old. Now, he appears to have a spot on the third pairing with the Leafs locked down, at least until the return of the injured Travis Dermott. In the preseason, Sandin has not really looked out of place, even when playing 25 or even 30+ minutes per game. If Toronto needs to make a trade to remain cap compliant, I believe Sandin would be ready to take on a second pairing role at the AHL level. He also has an advantage over several other rookies on this list, since he had a full season in the AHL, giving him a lot more time to transition to the NHL style of play, whereas many of these players are coming straight from Europe, the CHL, or the NCAA.

Nick Suzuki
Centre/Right Wing
Montreal Canadiens
13th overall pick (2017)

Since being acquired by Montreal in 2018, Suzuki has shown the everyone what he can really do. After a 94-point season split between the Owen Sound Attack and the Guelph Storm, Suzuki had an incredible OHL playoffs, scoring 16 goals and 42 points in 28 games played. His preseason also appears to have guaranteed him a spot in Montreal's top-6, and the Canadiens will likely lean on him to help out the league's worst power-play last season. He has also been used on the penalty kill during the preseason, though it is unlikely he will retain that role with Phillip Danault and Nate Thompson in the lineup.

Honorable mentions: Cody Glass (VGK), Ethan Bear (EDM), Ryan Poehling (MTL)

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