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.

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