The Sports Forecaster

The Top 10 Calder Trophy Candidates of 1995

As the 1995 NHL season gets started, the race for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league's most outstanding rookie, is already heating up. This year's crop of rookies is diverse, talented, and instrumental in their respective team's successes (or struggles). Here's a look at the top 10 candidates for the Calder Trophy in 1995, based on their performances so far:

10. Bobby Holik, LA Kings

Starting at number ten, Bobby Holik of the LA Kings shows promise despite his team's struggles. With 2 goals in 5 games, Holik's impact is limited by his role on the third line and average ice time of 14 minutes per game. His lack of involvement in special teams also hinders his ability to make a significant impact, but his potential is undeniable.

9. Darrin Shannon, New York Islanders

Ninth place goes to Darrin Shannon of the New York Islanders. Playing for a team likely to miss the playoffs, Shannon has managed to tally 3 points in 5 games. His role on the second line, alongside experienced players Terry Yake and Brian Noonan, and participation in the second wave of the power play, reflects his growing status within the team.

8. Jere Lehtinen, New York Rangers

Jere Lehtinen of the New York Rangers secures the eighth spot. As one of the more skilled rookies this season, Lehtinen has earned 3 points in 6 games. Playing alongside Igor Korolev and Slava Kozlov, his role on the second line and special teams is crucial for the Rangers' playoff ambitions. Heís also a defensive specialist, one of the few rookies getting ice time on the penalty kill.

7. Sergei Zholtok, Anaheim Ducks

Sergei Zholtok, now with the Anaheim Ducks after starting the season in the Montreal Canadiens' farm system, ranks seventh. In just 2 games, Zholtok has made a significant impact with 3 assists. His recent assignment as the center of the second line and leader of both the top power play and penalty kill units is impressive, especially considering his limited time in the league so far.

6. Alexei Zhitnik, New York Islanders

The only defenseman on the list, Alexei Zhitnik of the Islanders, comes in sixth. With 2 points in 5 games and an average of nearly 25 minutes on ice per game, Zhitnik's role in the Islanders' defense cannot be overstated. His involvement in the first power play unit and first defensive pairing highlights his importance to the team.

5. Scott Scissons, Tampa Bay

Scott Scissons of Tampa Bay, perhaps a surprise contender, ranks fifth. His recent call-up and subsequent 3-point performance in his first game against the Flyers is a testament to his potential. Playing on the first line, Scissons could become a key player for Tampa Bay, making him a dark horse in the Calder race.

4. Glen Murray, Montreal Canadiens

Fourth place is held by Glen Murray of the Montreal Canadiens. Despite only scoring 2 goals in 6 games, Murray's consistent placement on a line with Sergei Fedorov and Keith Tkachuk, as well as his role in the second power play unit, demonstrate the confidence coach Larry Robinson has in him.

3. Craig Conroy, New York Islanders

Craig Conroy, the third Islander on this list, secures the third spot. Playing as the first line left winger alongside last year's Calder winner Alexei Yashin, Conroy has already notched 3 points in 5 games. His involvement in the first wave of the power play underlines his significant role in the team's offensive strategy.

2. Martin Rucinsky, New York Islanders

The Islanders' Martin Rucinsky ranks second. As a center to Conroy and Yashin, Rucinsky leads the rookies with 6 points in 5 games. His chemistry with his line mates is palpable, though limited minutes so far by coach Pat Burns might affect his long-term productivity.

1. Peter Forsberg, Edmonton Oilers

Topping the list is Peter Forsberg of the Edmonton Oilers. Despite having fewer points so far than Rucinsky, Forsberg's talent is undeniable. Playing alongside stars Doug Weight and Mark Recchi, his impact for the playoff-bound Oilers is significant. At 22, his main challenge will be continuing to adapt to the North American style of play and avoiding injury. His conditioning and adjustment to the smaller rinks and physicality of the NHL are crucial. However, his raw talent and the high-calibre of his linemates make him a leading contender for the Calder Trophy.

Analysis and Outlook

The 1995 Calder Trophy race is unique for its diversity of talent across different positions and team circumstances. Players like Holik and Shannon, have shown glimpses of potential that could flourish in the right conditions. Meanwhile, defensemen like Zhitnik are proving that impactful play isnít confined to forwards.  Interestingly enough, there are no rookie goaltenders expected to make an impact this season.

The Islanders' strong representation on this list, with four players, highlights their successful scouting and development program. However, their struggle as a team might affect the visibility and impact of their rookies. Conversely, players like Forsberg and Lehtinen, who are playing for stronger teams, might benefit from the higher profile and better team performance.

As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see if players like Scissons and Zholtok can maintain their surprise impact, and if top contenders like Forsberg and Rucinsky can continue their impressive performances. The Calder Trophy race is not just about points; it's about how these rookies adapt to the NHL, grow with their teams, and contribute to the game, making this one of the most exciting rookie classes to watch in recent years.  We will be back in the mid-season to take another look.

--------------------------------------

Send us your thoughts, your own predictions, or any ideas for another feature article by mailing us a letter at the following address:  C/O Forecaster, PO BOX 11151, Camden NJ. 08030, USA.

-The Sports Forecaster