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Tencer's Blog: Calder Watch

Dan Tencer takes a closer look at the Calder Trophy race in his latest blog entry

Friday, 25.02.2011 / 3:37 PM / Blogs
By Dan Tencer
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Tencer\'s Blog: Calder Watch
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin / EOHC).
Almost all of the NHL's major team and individual awards have had a stop in Edmonton at one time or another. Championships? Got 'em. Hart trophy? Gretzky did it eight times. In a row. Vezina? Fuhr in '88. Norris, Adams, Clancy & Byng? Coffey, Sather, Lowe and Kurri.

The one that got away, so far anyways, is the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie. Now, look, Gretzky won the Hart in 1979-80 and he darn sure would have won the Calder, too, if it wasn't for that pesky WHA season getting in the way. But it did and the Calder went to some relative unknown by the name of Ray Bourque...as if he ever went on to accomplish anything.

TAYLOR HALL, MEET FRANK CALDER

Voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, the trophy is named after Frank Calder, the inaugural President of the NHL from 1917-1943. The Championship trophy of the American Hockey League is named after the same man. History lessons aside, Mr. Calder has a real opportunity to find a home in Edmonton at the end of the season for the first time if rookie forward Taylor Hall continues the pace that he's been on in the last week, posting four goals and six points in his last four games. He's got some work to do to catch Jeff Skinner for total points and is looking up at Michael Grabner and Logan Couture in the race for top goal scorer, but a continued run of points by Hall could easily suffice to get him to the top of those charts.

Factoring in the possibility of a goaltender like Corey Crawford or Sergei Bobrovsky being nominated, plus the potential for a defenseman like Cam Fowler or John Carlson, and it's a fairly elite class that Hall will have to distinguish himself from. What he has going for him, stats aside, is that all of the other players previously mentioned (with the exception of Grabner) are on playoff teams with significantly more supporting talent to aid in the statistical success.

Hall, for those that watch, is one of the main straws that stir the drink of the Edmonton Oilers offense and, as showcased by his performance against Atlanta last weekend, he's got an explosive dynamic that I'd argue none of the other players quite possess. It's not something that can be adequately expressed statistically, but Hall has an ability to change a game or put a team on his back that I don't see equaled in the race for the Calder this year.

I'm not saying it'll get him a win, but assuming the points don't totally slide between now and the end of the year, I'm betting that the PHWA gives him a nomination.

Whether it matters or not, Hall is also among the youngest of all the names that will be considered, at 19 years of age. Corey Crawford is 26, Michael Grabner is 23, Sergei Bobrovsky is 22 and Logan Couture and John Carlson are 21. Skinner, probably the odds on favourite to win right now, is just 18 years of age and former Windsor Spitfires teammate Cam Fowler is just less than a month younger than Hall. If it was me, I'd nominate Jeff Skinner, John Carlson and Taylor Hall...with an honourable mention to Bobrovsky, if such a thing exists.

THE FUTURE IS FRIENDLY

I hope Telus is giving the club a break on Steve Tambellini's data plan this month, as he's easily going to be one of the busiest GM's this weekend as we head towards Monday's 1pm deadline. I'm not sure how much I can dive into specific names and rumblings on the official site of the team, but if you've listened to me or Bob Stauffer or Rob Brown on CHED and the Oilers Radio Network in the last couple weeks, you're probably pretty well up to speed.

It seems to be a pretty fluid and juicy market this year if you're a team with assets to move, and while the Oilers don't find themselves in a position of desperation with any of their pieces, they're certainly in a position to listen with all ears.

Given the work that Stu MacGregor has done since taking over as Head of Amateur Scouting, getting him extra picks is certainly a priority for the club, as is improving the depth at center ice and on the blue line. But, as I just pointed out, Tambellini's major bargaining chips either have at least a year left on their deal or are pending RFA, meaning that he can hold out for a premium price and simply hold on to the players he has if no team steps up to meet it. I'll go on record here and now as predicting a relatively quiet deadline for the Oilers, with Tambellini leaving more offers than he takes.

"ROD'S CLASSICS" BACK ON THE AIR

On Sunday, the seventh of 10th installments of "Rod's Classics" hits the airwaves on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network as the Oilers host the Boston Bruins at Rexall Place. I had a chance to chat with Bruins legend Cam Neely this afternoon and that conversation will air as part of the broadcast on Sunday, which will also feature a phone in from 1990 Conn Smythe winner Bill Ranford and Morley Scott as colour analyst throughout the game. You can catch the broadcast starting at 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon.
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