The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League." The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association following the regular season. To be eligible for the award, "a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league." Additionally, he must not "be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible." The current holder of the trophy is Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who was 21 at the time the trophy was awarded. The nominees for the 2009-10 season are the Buffalo Sabres' Tyler Myers, the Detroit Red Wings' Jimmy Howard and Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche.
But where does that leave us, the Washington Capitals fans? Cold and alone? No! Rock the Red has decided to nominate members of the Washington Capitals' roster for each of the NHL's awards, and pick a winner accordingly. The best part is you don't even have to wait until Wednesday, June 23rd to find out who wins!
In alphabetical order:
John Carlson: 22 games in the regular season: 1 goal, 6 points, +11
Carlson joined the team late in the season, but immediately found his place in the lineup and produced on a nightly basis. His play severely exceeded his age (20) on both ends of the rink- showcasing his size, strength, shooting and skating abilities offensively, while maintaining controlled, heads-up play in his own zone. Eligible for the award next year as well, as he tallied only 22 games this season.
Michal Neuvirth: 17 games in the regular season: 9-4-0, 2.75 GAA, .914 SV %
Neuvirth was a mid-season Hershey Bears call-up that turned into a strong replacement for an injured Semyon Varlamov. He was a fundamental key during the Capitals 14-game win streak, allowing a surplus of 2 goals only three times in his 11 games from January to February. Very composed throughout the season, he combatted being pulled in back-to-back starts by posting a 4-0-0 record with a 1.38 GAA and a .961 SV %.
Semyon Varlamov: 26 games in the regular season: 15-4-6, 2.55 GAA, .909 SV %
Entering the season battling incumbent Jose Theodore for the starting position, Varlamov continued to mature as the season progressed, including posting two shut outs within 12 days of each other. Following an injury in mid-December, Varly struggled during his return but managed to find his place in the crease through the close of the regular season, and started 5 games during the playoffs. His consistency and strong positional play was astounding at times, and allowed the Capitals the backstopping needed to battle back from deficits.
Honorable Mention: Mathieu Perreault
And your winner, pretending that the Washington Capitals are the only team in the NHL, and we are the sole voters in the PHWA: (drumroll, please) John Carlson!
Former Washington Capitals' Frank J. Selke Trophy winners: Alexander Ovechkin, 2005-06