A definite bright spot this season has been the emergence of Dominik Kubalik. With 25 goals this season, he’s only the eighth rookie in Blackhawks history to reach that plateau… and there’s still 22 games left! It’s reasonable to think he may reach 30 goals, and he’d be only the fifth rookie in franchise history to do that. So does he have a shot to be the tenth Calder Trophy winner in franchise history? Let’s dig in.
The best argument in Kubalik’s favor is the fact that he has a SIX goal cushion in the rookie goal race.
|NHL rookie goal leaders|
|Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks||25|
|Victor Olofsson- Sabres||19|
|Denis Gurianov- Stars||17|
|Martin Necas- Hurricanes||15|
|Nick Suzuki- Canadiens||13|
It’s even more glaring when you look at even-strength goals, and he’s even joined by a few teammates:
NHL rookie Even Strength Goal leaders
|Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks||23|
|Martin Necas- Hurricanes||10|
|Denis Gurianov- Stars||10|
|Kirby Dach- Blackhawks||8|
|Alex Nylander- Blackhawks||8|
|Cale Makar- Avalanche||8|
|Victor Olofsson- Sabres||8|
Kubalik is tied with Leon Draisaitl & Nathan McKinnon for 8th in the entire league with those 23 even-strength tallies!
Kubalik has come on strong since the calendar flipped over to 2020.
NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season through December 31
|Victor Olofsson- Sabres||16|
|Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks||11|
|Denis Gurianov- Stars||9|
|Martin Necas- Hurricanes||9|
NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season January 1 to present
|Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks||14|
|Denis Gurianov- Stars||8|
|Carter Verhaeghe- Lightning||7|
|Nick Suzuki- Canadiens||6|
|Martin Necas- Hurricanes||6|
Did you ever notice that Necas is an anagram for Canes?
Of course, on the flip side, Kubalik is only 5th among rookie point collectors.
|Quinn Hughes- Canucks||47|
|Cale Makar- Avalanche||45|
|Victor Olofsson- Sabres||40|
|Nick Suzuki- Canadiens||40|
|Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks||38|
Hughes is tied for 4th overall and Makar is 6th overall among ALL defensemen in points, let alone rookies. Impressively, Makar’s first career 10 NHL games in the 2019 playoffs, where he recorded a goal and 5 assists.
One point in Victor Olofsson’s favor is that he has done what he has done in 45 games compared to 58 for Kubalik.
The biggest problem, in my opinion, is what the recent trends have shown in Calder Trophy voting. In most cases where one player leads NHL rookies in goals while a different player leads NHL rookies in points, the vote usually goes in favor of the points leader.
|Rookie points leader||Rookie goals leader||Calder Trophy winner|
|2018-19||Elias Pettersson||Elias Pettersson||Pettersson|
|2017-18||Matthew Barzal||Kyle Connor||Barzal|
|2016-17||Auston Matthews||Auston Matthews||Matthews|
|2015-16||Artemi Panarin||Artemi Panarin||Panarin|
|2014-15||J. Gaudreau/ M. Stone||Mike Hoffman||Aaron Ekblad|
|2013-14||Nathan MacKinnon||MacKinnon/T. Johnson||MacKinnon|
|2012-13||J. Huberdeau/N. Yakupov||Nail Yakupov||Huberdeau|
|2011-12||G. Landsekog/R. Nugent-Hopkins||Matt Read||Landsekog|
|2010-11||Jeff Skinner||Michael Grabner||Skinner|
|2009-10||Matt Duchene||J. Tavares/M. Duchene||Tyler Myers|
|2008-09||Bobby Ryan||Bobby Ryan||Steve Mason|
|2007-08||Patrick Kane||Jonathan Toews||Kane|
|2006-07||Evgeni Malkin||Evgeni Malkin||Malkin|
|2005-06||Alex Ovechkin||Alex Ovechkin||Overchkin|
A big point in favor of Quinn Hughes.
Although, what about the times where the rookie goal leader had a lead of six or more goals over the next rookie, as Kubalik currently enjoys?
|Rookie goals leader||Runner up||Calder Trophy|
|2018-19||Elias Pettersson 28||Brady Tkachuk 22||Pettersson|
|2015-16||Artemi Panarin 30||Jack Eichel 24||Panarin|
|2008-09||Bobby Ryan 31||James Neal 24||Steve Mason|
|2005-06||Alex Ovechkin 52||Sidney Crosby 39||Ovechkin|
|1999-2000||Mike York 26||Simon Gagne 20||Scott Gomez|
|1992-93||Teemu Selanne 76||Eric Lindros 41||Selanne|
These are the only six times it has happened since 1990, so it doesn’t happen often. But still, Pettersson, Panarin, Ovechkin & Selanne also led rookies in points. Scott Gomez in 1999-2000 did too. But Steve Mason won a Calder over Bobby Ryan in 2008-09. What about the goalies?
Three goalies might be considered on the Calder radar right now.
|MacKenzie Blackwood- Devils||19-12-7||2.79||.913||3|
|Ilya Samsonov- Capitals||16-4-1||2.38||.917||1|
|Elvis Merzlikins- Blue Jackets||12-9-6||2.29||.924||5|
Blackwood has the bulk of the playing time, but overall less impressive numbers than Samsonov (who is the only goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first 9 career road games in a season!) and Merzlikins (5 of 12 wins by way of shutout!), who both probably haven’t played enough to be true Calder contenders, but have notable performances worth mentioning. My best guess is that none of these goalies end up Calder finalists.
Dominik Kubalik is at a bit of a disadvantage due to his overall point total, but if he keeps on consistently putting pucks into nets (his 14 goals since January 1 are tied for 4th in the entire league!), it will get interesting. The Blackhawks just may end up with three Calder winners over the past 13 seasons which would be quite a nod to the Blackhawks’ ability to locate dynamic forwards.