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  • The Press Box August 20, 2012

    30 Calder Trophy Contenders
    Predicting who will win the Calder trophy is very difficult. So many factors need to be considered from, opportunity, available ice time, position, head coach and the strength of the team etc. You can never predict how a player will adapt from junior hockey to pro level like the NHL. Here is my list of each teams best candidate to win the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

    Anaheim - Emerson Etem - Etem had the door of opportunity open when Ducks let go veterans Niklas Hagman and Jason Blake off the wings. His competition for a top nine role comes from Rickard Rakell, Kyle Palmieri, Pat Maroon, Andrew Cogliano, Matt Beleskey, and Devante Smith-Pelly.

    Boston - Dougie Hamilton - Talk about opportunity, Hamilton may fin himself paired with Norris trophy winner Zdeno Chara both on a regular shift and on the first unit power play. It is difficult for defense to put up enough points to win, but Hamilton may be a serious contender.

    Buffalo - Marcus Foligno - Foligno found some magic chemistry on the second line late last season with Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. If they can recapture the lightning in a bottle they found, he could have a serious season.

    Calgary - Sven Baertschi - Calgary is desperate for both youth and offense and Baertschi represents hope on both fronts. After backlund flammed out under high expectations, Baertschi is assured top six opportunity.

    Carolina - Ryan Murphy - The 12th overall selection in the 2011 draft has a history of concussion and injuries may prevent him from reaching full potential. But his offense is unquestionable and if healthy, could be a top contributor offensively on a team that should score plenty of goals this season.

    Chicago - Brandon Saad - Started last season on Toews line but ultimately was sent for more seasoning in junior. Expected to make the Hawks this year, he could find himself on Toes line all season.

    Colorado - Tyson Barrie - The Av's have a history of first round picks making an immediate impact in Duchene, and last years Calder winner Gabriel Landeskog. No first round pick this year means best chance lies in D man Barrie to make an impact.

    Columbus - Ryan Murray was this drafts second overall pick. He played in last years World Championship for Canada and looked ready for NHL competition. Columbus needs to be a much better team for him to be considered for the Calder.

    Dallas - Jack Campbell - His junior career is now over and is the prime candidate to back up the injury prone Kari Lehtonen. The former first round, 11th overall pick is the future in goal for Dallas, and may take a shot at the starting job as soon as this year.

    Detroit - Gustav Nyquist - Nyquist has paid his dues in Grand Rapids and can not be denied his shot at the NHL any longer. Played briefly on a line with Datsyuk last season and has the potential to be a regular on his left side this season.

    Edmonton - Nail Yakupov - The latest of the Oilers first overall draft choices should make the team and play on a line with any number of highly skilled forwards. Scoring should not be a problem and Yakupov is the odds on favorite to lead all rookies in scoring this year.

    Florida - Jonathan Huberdeau - A potential franchise player will make his NHL debut full time. Huberdeau has a wealth of experience including two Memorial Cups, World Juniors, and as Captain recently for Canada at the Canada Russia series.

    Los Angeles - Tyler Toffoli - Finished second overall in OHL scoring and may turn pro as there is little to gain by returning to the OHL. He needs some help finding roster space on the defending Stanley Cup Champions roster, but should be first in line if a spot becomes available.

    Minnesota - Mikael Granlund - Is assured a top six spot on a line with either Zach Parise, or Dany Heatley on the left wing. He has superstar potential and is a favorite to win the Calder.

    Montreal - Alex Galchenyuk - Was selected third overall this summer. He may not make the NHL and return to junior, but if he plays his was on the team, it will be in a top six role supplanting David Desharnais.

    Nashville - Austin Watson - While the Hockey News Ultimate Pool guide lists Ryan Ellis as a Calder contending rookie, he played 32 games and is not eligible. Void of any true contenders, Watson is the Preds best hope.

    New Jersey - Jon Merrill - Merrill had a rough season of college hockey and the offensive defenseman is ready to turn pro. He would provide the Devils with a solution to the missing power play quarterback if he can make the team.

    New York Islanders - Ryan Strome - i doubt he can steal the second line center position away from Frans Nielsen, but if Strome can convert to right wing, there is huge opportunity to bump Brad Boyes down.

    New York Rangers - Chris Kreider - made a strong debut in the playoffs showcasing his blazing speed and a nice goalscoring touch. Should crack the top six full of confidence and be a serious Calder candidate. The injury to Gaborik only further increases his opportunity.

    Ottawa - Jakob Silfverberg - At 21 years old Silfverberg is the more reliable bet to be the Sens candidate for rookie of the year ahead of Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone based on experience. Silfverberg also had a debut in the playoffs and should see either first line duties with Spezza and Michalek, or second line with Turris and Alfredsson. Either way, look out!

    Philadelphia - Eric Wellwood - Younger brother of Kyle Wellwood has won a roster spot on the Flyers. The challenge for him will to be to find a way to get off the fourth line.

    Phoenix - Brandon Gormley - Youngsters Gormley and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have made All-Star Keith Yandle expendable in Phoenix. If the Coyotes do trade Yandle, it opens the door wide for Gormley to step into a full time NHL role.

    Pittsburgh - Simon Despres - played 20 minutes a game in a brief audition in the NHL last season in injury relief and did not look out of place. An AHL All-Star, the offensive defenseman has great puck carrying skills. Given Letangs recent injury concerns, there could be a huge opportunity offensively for Despres.

    San Jose - Freddie Hamilton - his brother Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins is the more well known of the brothers, but Freddie is not to be under estimated. A prolific scorer in the OHL, Freddie is a solid two-way player that is versatile, reliable, and dependable.

    St. Louis - Vladimir Tarasenko - "The Tank" makes his long awaited NHL debut and the Russian winger will provide the Blues with another scoring option. Hitchcocks stifling defensive system in St Louis may make Calder competition a challenge for Tarasenko as well as the Blues depth.

    Tampa - Corey Conacher - the undrafted late bloomer made his pro debut in the AHL last season after Norfolk signed him as a free agent. He won both Rookie of the year and MVP awards. He has been signed to an entry level contract by Tampa and may have another impressive debut this season in the NHL.

    Toronto - Joe Colborne - Unless the Leafs make another big trade the guy playing between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul will be either Tyler Bozak, James Van Riemsdyk, or Joe Colborne. Colborne was leading the AHL in scoring before injuries derailed his season. Now i the time for the 22 year old to make the jump.

    Vancouver - Nicklas Jensen - The budding power forward will have to compete with Zack Kassian but Jensen has the size and skill to be an NHL contributor.

    Washington - Braden Holtby - Holtby enjoyed his coming out party in the post season with the Caps and is now the undisputed starting goalie for Washington, a team that should win its fair share of regular season games this season.

    Winnipeg - Mark Scheifele - Scheifele had an impressive training camp last season and hopes to make the team full time this year. If he does, he is an offensive forward who should see quality ice time. The seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft may be better suited returning to junior again however.

    Fantasy Hockey Coach is proud to offer our fantasy guide, the Fantasy Hockey Playbook


    Here is what you can expect to find within our guide:
    Several feature articles from how to prepare for your draft, to Calder chasers, players you don't want, sleeper picks from each team and each and the trending direction of every team as well.
    Predictions from each staff member, thorough 3 year statical analysis and of course a team by team breakdown.
    In the team breakdown we examine five different categories. Here is what they
    are with a brief description:
    • THE NEXT THREE - Everyone knows who the top three fantasy players are
    on each team but it’s the next three players that will have the biggest impact
    on your fantasy squad.
    • THE MAN ADVANTAGE - Who will play on what unit? How effective they
    will be?
    • PROTECTING THE CREASE – A write up on the goaltender tandem. Who
    will be the number one starter?
    • IMPACT OF NEW PLAYERS – The fantasy impact of newly acquired players
    either via free agency, draft or trade.
    • THE BREAKOUT AND THE DOWNSWING – One player who has the
    potential to breakout this season and one player who is on the downswing of
    his career.

    Here are some samples from the Playbook:

    LOS ANGELES KINGS

    THE NEXT THREE


    Living in the shadow of Doughty has kept Slava Voynov off the radar for most fantasy owners, but that shouldn’t impact his value. He is a young, mobile defenseman with a decent shot and a hockey IQ beyond his years. A mainstay on the power play, Voynov should put up enough points to be a consistent contributor in any pool and his defensive partner Mitchell will mop up any mistakes the young stalwart might make.

    Justin Williams is a two-time 30 goal scorer who doesn’t get the credit he deserves in Los Angeles. The last two seasons he has seen a bit of a career revival, avoiding injuries and putting together his most complete campaigns in his time in with the Kings. On Kopitar’s right wing Williams should be good for about 60 points and will contribute from time to time as a part the second power play unit.

    2011-12 was not kind to Jeff Carter, who split his time between Columbus and Los Angeles. Posting only 34 points on the season, he had his lowest point total since breaking in to the league in 2005. His playoff performance with the Kings showed promise however, as he posted 13 points in 20 games. Carter will be looking to prove the
    naysayers wrong this year and a full season in Los Angeles alongside Richards may see him return to 40 goal form

    Ottawa Senators

    THE MAN ADVANTAGE

    Ottawa increased their consistency on the power play as the season wore on. They finally finished with and 18.2% power play which is good for 11th in the league. The team will continue to spend a great deal of time perfecting their power play as they can’t be expected to finish in the top five in total goals for again this season. Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are locks on the power play, but last season saw a revolving door for the other two spots depending on who was hot at the time. Michalek was hot enough last season to put up 10 power play markers and both Neil and Greening spent time screening the goalie on the first power play unit. Given Gonchar’s struggles on the power play, and lack of options, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sens roll with four forwards on the PP for much of the season.

    Minnesota Wild

    IMPACT OF NEW PLAYERS

    The undisputed most improved NHL team on paper from the flurry of offseason additions;
    Minnesota is suddenly looking like a loaded offensive force. Long gone are the days of the
    Wild relying on one star as they had done for years with Gaborik. With two very strong scoring lines, Minnesota has options up front and the power play should greatly improve. Ryan Suter has the tough task of helping solidifying a young inexperienced defensive group that will face a lot of pressure this season. All the additions that the organization made have pushed the Wild into the true contenders that the fans in the State of Hockey have longed for. With all of the big name signings don’t forget about Zenon Konopka, as he will be a huge asset for the Wild and your fantasy pool. If you pool has an enforcer position Konopka should be near the top of your draft list for that position. Over the last three seasons he has 765 PIMs.

    In addition we include our top 300 foretasted forwards, 150 top defensemen, and top 68 goalies.

    THE ART OF PROJECTION
    Trying to predict the future season of any given hockey player isn't an easy task. Fantasy
    Hockey Coach takes this very seriously. All of our projections are weighted in player history, experts’ predictions, age, role and success at other levels. This system gives the most accurate projections you can find. However, this manner is not without its drawbacks. You won't see any huge reaches or guesses on who is going to breakout or fall-off the face of the earth this season. Other guides showcase these types of high-profile guesses. Remember, though they are nothing more then guesses. Every year there are a few surprises. These surprises are the exception, not the rule. Success in fantasy hockey is about being as right as possible as often as possible. Besides if you have purchased this guide you are not new to hockey. Even if you had only watched two or three games you'd already have formed opinions, found favorite players, hated players or guys you think are going to breakout. It is your job to balance these hunches with the knowledge contained within these pages. If you think a certain player is a lock for 75 points and we have his projection at 62 points . . . trust your gut. Our projections are simply a reflection of what is most likely to happen and give you fair expectations for the other 300 players on your draft board. If you balance your own thoughts on the upcoming year with these projections you will be a "projection artist" and be that much closer to winning your pool.

    I highly recommend you purchase as many of these outstanding tools as possible, starting with the FHC playbook which is the best value at 218 pages of fantasy hockey gold for only $7.95 Click here to purchase your copy today!

    By Peter Harling
    Follow me on Twitter @pharling
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