2013 NHL Awards: Calder Coming to Chicago?

Over the last few days, we have been discussing the candidacy of Blackhawks players for major NHL awards this season. On Tuesday we kicked off our series, making the case for Jonathan Toews to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Yesterday, we evaluated Patrick Kane’s Lady Byng credentials.

Now, let’s look at how well Brandon Saad stacks up against the top rookies in the NHL.


The Calder Memorial Trophy is annually given to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Since 1980, only three Blackhawks have won the award: Steve Larmer (1983), Ed Belfour (1991) and Patrick Kane (2008).

This season’s rookie class is good, but not great. And certainly the lockout forcing some younger players to begin the season in the AHL has helped their development. But looking around the postseason races in both conferences, there are a few rookies making significant impacts.

In the Eastern Conference, there are a number of rookies playing high-profile roles on playoff teams. Boston has featured Dougie Hamilton on their blue line, while Montreal has received contributions from Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. The injuries in Ottawa have forced the Sens to rely on significant production from Jakob
Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad and, since being acquired at the trade deadline, Cory Conacher.

In the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers are once again relying heavily on youngsters. Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz have both had good seasons for the Oilers, but they’ll watch the playoffs on television once again this year. Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin has been asked to play a major role in the Kings’ title defense, and he has been up to the task

When trying to name three top candidates for the Calder Trophy this year, it isn’t an easy process. But there are three that have set themselves apart over the course of the short season.

In Minnesota, defenseman Jonas Brodin has received a lot of attention. His offensive numbers aren’t as sexy as those of Schultz in Edmonton, but he has been a top-pair player for the Wild this year and has performed incredibly well. In their recent poll of NHL coaches, TSN reported that Brodin was the runner-up among Western Conference rookies.

The name that has been on the finalist list for the Calder the longest this season has been Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau. He is the rookie leader with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists), and also leads rookie forwards in ice time per game (16:44). He has been a constant in the Panthers’ lineup this season while others have come and gone due to injury, and has been a bright spot in a less-than-stellar (read: in the cellar) season in

From the Hawks, Brandon Saad deserves strong consideration.

Saad didn’t dress for the season opener for Chicago, and then only registered four
points through the season’s first 19 games. But since March 1, Saad has been a
point-per-game performer on the top line for the top team in the game. He now has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) and a rookie class-leading plus-16 rating in 41 games. Saad is also one of only four rookies to record a short-handed goal this season, and only Montreal’s Gallagher has more than Saad’s two game-winning goals.

calderThe Winner: Saad

An argument could be made that Saad has benefitted from skating on the top line for the top team in the NHL this season. But anyone that has watched the Hawks – and acknowledged the impact Saad made while Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa were out of the lineup – has seen that Saad hasn’t been much of a statistical freeloader.

Among this year’s rookie forwards, only Ottawa’s Silfverberg (22.4) is averaging more shifts per game than Saad (22.3), and he has been a contributor on both special teams units for the Hawks.

Also worthy of note, Saad hasn’t faded down the stretch; he has as many points (five) in April as Hossa or Patrick Kane, and is averaging 18:43 on ice in eight games this month.

14 thoughts on “2013 NHL Awards: Calder Coming to Chicago?

  • April 18, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Tab, excellent article. Have not watched alot of the other rookies and I am sure several are worthy. Saad is also mature beyond his years in the sense he understands the whole game pretty well. Win or not, I am glad he is a Hawk!

  • April 18, 2013 at 8:27 am

    This pick for Saad is a slam dunk. Aside from the above stats, I think its important to point out Saad is a +10 in Takeaways/Giveaways. Huberdeau is a-9. Also, Saad has been carrying a good CorsiOn number (over 15 last i looked). And i dont know the exact stat for him, but he seems to always be drawing penaltys with his hustle. Penaltys drawn can often be an overlooked stat. I would imagine he has to be close to 1 per game.

    He needs to be in a Hawks sweater for a long time!

  • April 18, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Great article Tab…very fairly written for all candidates…I feel very strongly about this award, and that Saad should be the winner. As you said, anyone who has watched Hawks games knows that Saad isn’t some statistical freeloader…he has been a huge and integral part of our success…when Hossa and Sharp were out of the lineup there were nights when Toews and Saad carried this team on their backs.

    His PK work has been outstanding, and is huge as it allows other key Hawks to REST and not have to burn up extra energy killing penalties. He’s been physical, without taking stupid penalties and he draws more penalties than anyone else on the Hawks, with the exception of perhaps Toews. And that’s because he is always attacking with the puck.

    Win it or lose it (and I would have to think he wins), the good news is that this young man will be a fixture on our #1 line for a very long time…a 2nd round draft pick (our 2nd pick in the 2nd round, the other being Adam Clendening) and in his 2nd year he is a major player on our top line…thanks Mr. Bowman!

    Our 2011 draft might go down as the best in our entire storied history…check this out…

    PRINCE ALBERT (WHL) 6’2″ / 201
    VICTORIAVILLE (QMJHL) 6’0″ / 170
    2 36 D ADAM CLENDENING BOSTON UNIV. (H-EAST) 5’11” / 190
    2 43 LW BRANDON SAAD SAGINAW (OHL) 6’1″ / 208
    3 70 D MICHAEL PALIOTTA U.S. NTDP U-18 6’3″ / 198
    5 139 C ANDREW SHAW OWEN SOUND (OHL) 5’11” / 180
    6 169 D SAM JARDINE CAMROSE (AJHL) 6’0″ / 185
    7 199 C ALEX BROADHURST GREEN BAY (USHL) 5’10” / 153

    Andrew Shaw is already a huge part of our success in Chicago and he played for us straight away. Danault and McNeil have very promising futures (Wall’s thoughts on McNeil aside)…Clendening and Saad are going to be NHL stars…already Klas Dahlbeck (that’s where I got Stahlberg’s H) is a very good DMan in Rockford paired with Stanton, Paliotta looks good, there are a number of people who say that Maxim Shalunov might be the best one of the bunch, but is a couple of years away, Alex Broadhurst (and his brother who was signed as an undrafted FA both look great), and Mattson looks good.

    That’s an amazing haul for any team at any time…and it has the makings as the backbone of this hockey team 5 years down the road…that’s how good this draft was!

  • April 18, 2013 at 10:28 am


    Did you watch the same icehogs that I did this year. It is clear that Dahlbeck is in over his head. He has 5 or six points on the year. He is at best a number 5 dman in Rockford at this point. I think it’s to early to say anything on McNeil or dannult. McNeil has been held scoreless in the Ahl so far. Lots to prove from these boys before we call them promising. As far as Clendenning goes if you look back 2 years ago Lalonde had a big rookie season in Rockford, last year it was Olsen with the big numbers and now Adam. Once again, a lot to prove before being a star.

  • April 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm


    Yes, I have watched the real Rockford Icehogs this season…have you?

    Dahlbeck has spent the year on the 1st D pairing with Ryan Stanton, they face the toughest opposition lines night after night…he is a +10…Dahlbeck doesn’t get a lot of points because like Hammer, he is a stay at home DMan that doesn’t get PP time. Plus he is a fixture on the PK…now, that doesn’t sound like he is in over his head, does it? The fact is, Dahlbeck is a slightly bigger version of Hammer, who has learned the necessity of taking the body and being physcial, sooner than Hammer did. He will be a Hawk within 2 years.

    Clendening is an AHL All Star in his first season…have you looked at the list of players that make up the 1st 2 all star teams??? It is a who’s who of elite prospects. The AHL isn’t what a lot of people saw it as 10 years ago…it’s good hockey and it produces top NHL talent every year. And if you had watched the last 20 Icehog games yourself, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about Clendening…if you haven’t seen a recent photo of Clendening and just remember him from his draft year photos, you won’t recognize him…he’s put on a lot of muscle. Clendening will be a Hawk next season.

    McNeil and Danault are both tenacious, talented, 2 way centres, good at the dot, who go into the corners, take hits to make plays and are LEADERS. Both have too much talent and INTELLIGENCE not to become NHL players. All their 4 game stint at Rockford tells us is that they need a year of pro hockey under their belts to acclimatize.

    The 2011 draft was like magic from beginning to end…Shaw and Saad produce right away…Clendening next year…McNeil, Danault and Dahlbeck the year after? Are kidding me?

  • April 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I love all these articles about the hardware our guys are in the running for and it reminds me of the year we won the cup. The awards triggered all kinds of bonuses and bumps in salary that got us in cap trouble and led to losing the Ladds, Buff, Burishes of the world.

    It’s awesome that all these guys are playing themselves into consideration for awards. I’m thrilled for them, the team, and they deserve their money.

    But am I the only one concerned about the cap implications of Hawks winning these awards? (and hopefully someone this year grabbing the one Toews won as playoff MVP when we won the cup)?

  • April 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Only Tallon would have been foolish enough to create a deal where an award triggered a permanent salary increase. I am sure that Bowman, when he resigned both Toews and Kane, had the awards trigger bonuses only. I would think that we will be okay…Tab should know…Wall or Mike might know as well.

  • April 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks Brad – and I appreciate all your daily insights.

    My recollection wasn’t that it triggered a higher salary, but that there might be a $500K bonus for being MVP, etc. and/or that there was a monetary part of the award that counted against the cap (I remember hoping Pronger would get the playoff MVP for some $ reason).

    And the idea that if, for example, Saad wins the Calder (which I think he deserves) he’ll have added leverage when negotiations come up.

  • April 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    According to CapGeek the Hawks only have $682k in potential bonuses this year
    Saad $307
    Mayers $50k
    Leddy $325k
    I do not know the criteria but I am sure at least Leddy and Saad have earned theirs.
    As of right now the Hawks only have $82k in potential bonuses next year

    I do not now how the new CBA works but in the past bonuses earned in the current season go against the following years cap.

  • April 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Usually bonuses like that are on rookie contracts. For example, currently Saad and Leddy have potential bonuses. The year we won the cup was the last year on both Toews and Kane’s rookie contracts. They both had their bonuses triggered that year, but their new contracts (their current ones) started the following year and have no bonuses.

  • April 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm


    I am not saying that McNeil and dannult will not pan out I am simply saying it very early to talk about the nhl with only a handful of ahl games on their résumé.

    As for clendenning I am not saying he isn’t going to be a success once again I am saying that it is to early to say he will be an NHL star. ( I have been to a majority of the icehogs games) Another full season in Rockford may be what’s best for him. A healthy Dylan Olsen (hasn’t been 100% most of the year) is still a better option at the blue line for the big club.

    Regarding Dahlbeck, I have spoken with multiple people on the team including some if his skating partners. The consensus in the locker room is that he doesn’t have the intelligence to get to the next level. The reason he has skated with Stants or Monty has been to help bring him along. Klas is a nice guy and may very well play in the NHL but it is still a few years down the line.

  • April 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for your insights Chris…the Hawks organization is so deep, that we can wait for a number of guys to develop over time…we never had this luxury under Tallon.

  • April 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Sr. Brad I would agree that the 2011 draft will be a good one but know matter how good Saad becomes it will never beat the 1980 draft. Savard, Larmer, Troy Murray, Steve Ludzik, and Carrey Wilson.

    Just Larmer and Savard would make that draft better and adding Murray just makes that draft so much stronger. Might be in the top 10 of drafts for a team ever in one single year.

  • April 19, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Vince, you are right…until such time that this class can come close to rivalling that haul, it stands out as the best.

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