Early Calder Candidates

It seems like the season just started and here we are with the Buffalo Sabres already 10 games in. Let’s take a look around the league and see what newcomers to the NHL are in contention for being a future Calder Trophy nominee.

Victor OlofssonF10639
Cale MakarD9088
Ilya MikheyevF11347
Cody GlassF11246
Quinn HughesF7325


The power-play specialist has double the number of goals as the next closest rookie. In 10 games played, Olofsson has scored six goals and added three assists. That being said, while it is fantastic to see him break and set a new NHL record, seven out of his nine points have come on the power play. With NHL teams learning to take away the potent cross-ice pass to his lethal shot, that will likely lead to less production solely contributed to on the power-play. Riding shotgun on the top line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart absolutely works in his favor and here’s to hoping that his even-strength production kicks it up a couple of notches.


The speedy defenseman out of Colorado has been nothing short of outstanding to start the year. This was almost expected with his poise and strong playoff showing at the end of last season. Currently, Makar has eight points in nine games with all of them being assists. Makar is still quite young with a lot of room to grow, and being on a very strong team should continue to help his development. I would be shocked if Makar isn’t in the top three for Calder consideration at the end of the season.


The big Russian winger has been a bright spot for the Leafs where their start to the season has left many fans in Leafs Nation disgruntled. In 11 games played, Mikheyev has produced three goals and four assists. In addition to his point totals, he has shown to be defensively responsible with a +5 plus/minus rating. Mikheyev has also been a steady shot contributor putting 27 shots on goals thus far this season. At 25 years of age, he is one of the older players in this list, the experience he already has seems to have transitioned well to the North American rink.


This young center has earned the right to play in the NHL and has shown quite well in a limited time sample. The Golden Knights were smart to have drafted him as their franchise’s first-ever pick, and it looks like he won’t be disappointing any time soon. In 11 games played, Glass has put up six points with less than 15 min of average ice-time per game. If his ice-time increases and his confidence continues to build I wouldn’t be surprised if he eclipses 50 points this year.


If I was forced to choose between the two Hughes brothers right now, I would take Quinn over Jack in a heartbeat. Hughes has put up six points in nine games and is the mold of the modern-day puck-moving defenseman. The undersized defenseman is able to use his speed and creatively to make up for his lack of size, and his play this year has certainly helped the Canucks thus far. Hughes is being played on average over 20 min of ice-time per game, so is absolutely relied upon and has lived up to expectations at the very least.

Players just outside the top five in points are Sam Lafferty of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ville Heinola with the Winnipeg Jets, and Alexander Nylander with the Chicago Blackhawks.

As it sits right now, Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko are not exactly blowing anyone away to start the year, but we’ll see if that turns around as the season progresses as each of them certainly have more than enough talent to breakout.

View the NHL’s all-time Calder Trophy list

Brian Sieteski
I have been a die-hard Sabres fan since as far back as I can remember. I recall going to the Sabres events where you could meet the players in person as a kid and even get a stick or hat signed. Go Sabres!
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