The argument for Nico Hischier, Clayton Keller, and Mikhail Sergachev.
The 1st overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, Nico Hischier, will probably not win the award, but he has had one of the most impressive rookie seasons. Keller has been the Coyotes best player all season and Sergachev is helping the Lightning contend for a Cup. As you probably know Mathew Barzal leads the league in rookie scoring with 66 points in 63 games.
I have made this argument before in the year Artemi Panarin won the Calder Trophy. Panarin was born in 1991, but won rookie of the year in a class of 97’s. Barzal a 97, is up against the 2016 (98’s) and 2017 (99’s) draft classes in terms of rookies who are younger. Hischier is an early 99, born in January. I take birth year, and even month, into consideration when evaluating a rookie’s season, and their future production.
Barzal was drafted 16th overall by the Islanders is 2015. The same year McDavid, Eichel, and Dylan Strome went 1, 2 and 3 respectively. McDavid and Eichel have both proven themselves at the NHL level. Strome on the other hand is still trying to breakout. Barzal has broken out and then some. Over a point per game in his first NHL season is very impressive. But this is his first NHL season, whereas Eichel and McDavid are already in year 3.
To me, Hischier’s 13 goals and 28 assists through 62 games played are just as impressive as Barzal’s year. Hischier made the Devils roster the same year he was drafted and there was no turning back. Both of the rookies are +6. Another stat I took into consideration was power play points. Barzal has 19 to Hischier’s 6. Percentage wise, Hischier has had more production at even strength than Barzal. Keller, the 7th overall pick in 2016 has put up numbers this season that suggest he can be a point per game player, like Barzal, three years after he was drafted, that would be next season. Sergachev is producing at a similar rate Erik Karlsson did when he was just two years removed from his draft year.
With all of this being said, I expect Barzal to win the Calder Trophy. If you have Barzal in your dynasty league, you may want to consider trading him with very high value in a deal that includes Hischier and more. Every player develops differently there’s no doubt about it. Producing in year one with a body frame not up to NHL standards leaves room for a lot of development and increased future production off of an already impressive start to these young player’s careers.
As of 02/27/2018, the top five scorers among rookie forwards:
Mathew Barzal (May 1997), 66 points through 63 games. 1.05 PPG.
Brock Boeser (Feb 1997), 52 points through 59 games. 0.88 PPG.
Yanni Gourde (Dec 1991), 48 points through 63 games. 0.76 PPG.
Clayton Keller (Jul 1998), 44 points through 62 games. 0.71 PPG
Nico Hischier (Jan 1999), 41 points through 62 games. 0.66 PPG.
The top five scorers among rookie defensemen:
Mikhail Sergachev (June 1998), 31 points though 61 games. 0.51 PPG
Will Butcher (Jan 1995), 30 points through 61 games. 0.49 PPG.
Charlie McAvoy (Dec 1997), 28 points through 56 games. 0.50 PPG
Ryan Pulock (Oct 1994), 20 points through 49 games. 0.41 PPG
Samuel Girard (May 1998), 16 points through 53 games. 0.30 PPG
Mikhail Sergachev played one year of junior after his draft year before solidifying himself as an NHL defenseman. His point production on the NHL’s highest scoring team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, is no fluke. He can be a 65-75 point player from the blue line in his prime. Will Butcher has had a very comparable season. Butcher’s ceiling long term is likely 50-55 points.