Matt Duchene’s Calder Trophy argument
As we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder Trophies, making arguments for each. Next is the Calder trophy, the NHL’s award for the Rookie of the Year. Next up: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene.
Why he deserves it: Heading into the 2009 NHL draft, the top three players in the draft were at a different level than everyone else. John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene were all projected to be extremely special players and were all thought to be able to provide instant help for whichever team drafted them. The questions was which order would they go? Everyone knew that Tampa Bay would draft Hedman, as they already had great skill up forward. Would the Islanders change their minds at the last instance and draft Duchene?
Thankfully for the Avalanche, the draft went as planned. The Islanders picked Tavares and the Avs selected an extremely gifted forward who grew up as big an Avalanche fan as they come. And while Tavares has certainly had a great season, no one could have anticipated the impact Duchene has had in Colorado. He leads all rookies in goals (24) and points (55) and has proven to be an exceptionally well-rounded defensive player as well. In 81 games, he has just 16 penalty minutes; he’s rarely out of position and has shown a maturity on the ice well beyond what anyone thought possible in his first season in the NHL.
Why he doesn’t deserve it: Good question, and one that can only be answered when used in comparison with his direct competitors. The Avalanche had an incredible run to start the season yet finished with a bit of a stumble, something that play against him when voters decide on the award. It’s also arguable that Jimmy Howard and Tyler Myers have had a bigger impact and have been more valuable to their team’s success than Duchene, although that’s a tough argument to quantify.
He also has one hell of a goal celebration.
Why he gets it: He’s the leader of an incredibly talented class of rookies, which includes Tavares, Jamie Benn, Niclas Bergfors and T.J. Galiardi, and it’s tough to think of another rookie that has played better or more consistent then he has this past season.
Why he won’t get it: Voters believe that Myers or Howard had the best season. This is a race that is tough to judge, and unfortunately some sort of bias will kick in. Duchene plays for a team that way out in Colorado, while Myers and Howard are out on the East coast (relatively). Once again, it’s unfortunate that’s the case, but that’s the reality.