It's opening night so it's a good time to ask this question. I'll propose a few who I think are good bets and not so good bets to win it.
Matt Gilroy; I can't really make a prediction on this guy. I got to see a lot of his games at BU. I think it's a matter of how much it translates over to the NHL game. I don't see a lot of what he did there carrying over. Personally I think a 25 year old has a much tougher time making that transition from college hockey to the NHL than a 22 year old.
Matt Duchene; Liked what I saw from him Thurs night. Has really good speed, hands and position himself well. In some respects a little like Ovechkin in that he knows when to hang back in the neutral zone for that seam pass that leads to a break away. I see this guy being a lot like a Jason Blake or Sean Bergenheim but with better vision and smarts for the game. I think a strong possibility given that he has a good supporting cast in Colorado.
Victor Hedman ; Really tough for a Defensemen to win this award but this guy is not your average rookie defensemen. Never saw this guy play but from what I've read it appears lots of folks have him slated for the HOF. Depends on what kind of offensive numbers he puts up to go along with a decent +/-. Like Duchene, has a decent supporting cast in Tampa with Stamkos, Lecavallier, St Louis etc. Could grab a hefty amount of points on the PP.
John Tavares; Biggest issue that could affect this guy is the supporting cast. We all know the names and who's involved. Also Gordon's plan for this kid which is generally just play a responsible game and worry about the points later. Unlike the others (Hedman, Gilroy, Duchene) the supporting cast to help this guy out in the points department just is not there. There's Weight who's slowed down and Streit who could throw some bombs at the point leading to rebounds for this kid to clean up. Overall, I think a lot of JT's points are gonna come on the PP.
These are just the few off the top of my head. Overall, I think at the end of the year I think there is going to be a hefty Calder Trophy debate. Especially if you see these guys all within a few points of each other. That happens I think Hedmen will win by default.
This what's going to make this season so sweet. I can't recall a year in recent memory when the rookie crop to start the year was this good. And I have left many names off of this list. I think this is going to be one of those Calders that's going to be debated for many years to come. Especially if the scenerario is like the one I mentioned above and the winner winds up a bust a few years from now.
We hockey fans LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE to second guess and play 20/20 hindsight on everything.