Tag: Dallas Stars

Johnny Gaudreau

Tight Calder Trophy race down to Ekblad, Gaudreau, Stone


This year featured a tight race for the Calder Trophy with several candidates worthy of being called the Rookie of the Year. However, only one can win and tonight we learned that the three candidates are Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Ottawa’s Mark Stone.

At this point it’s not surprising to see Gaudreau’s name on the list of Calder Trophy finalists, but going into the season there was a lot of skepticism about him. He was the 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner after scoring an incredible 80 points in 40 NCAA contests with Boston College, so obviously he had potential offensively, but there were concerns about the 5-foot-9 forward’s ability to adjust to the NHL given his size. Aware of that perception, he reached out to other undersized forwards like Martin St. Louis before the start of the season to get their advice.

“I’ve just got to make sure I follow in their footsteps and do what they’ve been doing,” Gaudreau said back in July. He’s taken a great first step by scoring 24 goals and 64 points in 80 contests with the Calgary Flames.

Out of all the rookies that stepped up this season, Mark Stone was perhaps the biggest surprise. Originally taken in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Stone had to hone his game in the minors before being able to earn a regular spot with Ottawa. He got off to a solid start this season, but it wasn’t until Dave Cameron took over as the team’s bench boss that his playing time grew substantially. He repaid Cameron’s trust by scoring 15 goals and 38 points in 36 contests after the All-Star break. No other rookie even came close to matching Stone’s pace during that stretch and if the NHL season was just a few weeks longer, he might have been regarded as the undisputed favorite for this year’s rookie honors.

As it is Stone still ended up tying Gaudreau for first place in the scoring race.

Unlike Stone or Gaudreau, Aaron Ekblad managed to jump straight into the NHL after being drafted. While that’s pretty much the standard for a first overall selection, it is still very rare to see a defenseman be this effective as a teenager. He had 12 goals and 39 points in 81 contests while also leading the Panthers with a plus-12 rating. Perhaps the most impressive thing about him though is the level of trust he earned with the Panthers, as evidenced by his average of 21:48 minutes per contest.

Of course in a year with this many strong rookie seasons, there’s bound to be snubs and Filip Forsberg arguably tops that list.

The Nashville Predators have been hurting for a top-end skilled forward for a while and their search seems to be over. Although Forsberg needed to spend the 2013-14 campaign adjusting to North America hockey after playing predominantly in Sweden prior to that, he hit the ground running this season with 14 goals and 35 points in 36 contests by New Year’s Day. At one point he looked like the heavy favorite to win this year’s Calder Trophy, but he slowed down somewhat in the second half and consequently finished a close third in the scoring race with 63 points in 82 contests.

John Klingberg is another big snub. He didn’t make his NHL debut until Nov. 11, but he still led all rookie defensemen in scoring. The 22-year-old had 11 goals and 40 points in 65 contests while making the transition from Sweden. Stars GM Jim Nill was so impressed by Klingberg that he handed the blueliner a seven-year, $29.75 million contract despite the relatively small sample size. So while he won’t get the Calder, his efforts were far from unrecognized.

Klingberg signs seven-year, $29.75 million extension with Stars

John Klingberg

The Dallas Stars have inked rookie defenseman John Klingberg to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, according to a Dallas Morning News source.

If that’s true, it’s a risky move for Dallas, but one that could pay off nicely.

(Update: It’s true.)

At the age of 22, Klingberg played in his first full season in North America after recording 28 points in 50 Swedish league games in 2013-14. He proved to be one of this season’s top rookies with 11 goals and 40 points in 65 contests with Dallas this season. He logged 21:50 minutes of ice time per game, including an average of 2:56 minutes per contest with the man advantage. From an anlytics perspective, Klingberg also had a strong season with a 5-on-5 Fenwick For of 53.03% compared to Dallas’ 52.04% when he was off the ice. That suggests that the Stars did a better job of possessing the puck when he was on the ice.

Of course, we’re talking about just one season and not every player that excels out of the gate can build on or even maintain that level of play throughout his career.

But the Stars have faith.

“John is a very special player, possessing a creativity and skill level that few in this league can match,” said GM Jim Nill in a release. “He fits in perfectly with where our core is at age-wise and his impact on our team was felt immediately. We expect him to build off of his rookie season and continue his development towards becoming an elite all-around defenseman.”

Stone suffered microfracture on Subban slash, Sens confirm

P.K. Subban,

I hate using a term like slash-gate, but I have a slash-gate update for you.

On Thursday morning, Ottawa announced that Mark Stone — the recipient of a P.K. Subban slash in Wednesday’s series-opening loss to Montreal — has suffered a microfracture in his right wrist, and that his availability for the rest of the series is unknown.

Stone, Ottawa’s star rookie, got caught with the slash midway through the second period and left the game momentarily, but did return and finished with over 15 minutes of ice time.

Losing him would be a major blow.

Since Jan. 1, only four players have scored more points than Stone’s 44 — John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn and Sidney Crosby. It gives you an idea of the level Stone’s been playing at and how important he is to the Sens, especially after they dropped Game 1.

Stone didn’t skate with Ottawa on Wednesday as Milan Michalek took his spot on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Alex Chiasson took Michalek’s spot alongside Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad, which meant that Chris Neil drew into the mix and rushed on the fourth line.

As for Subban, he won’t face any supplemental discipline from the league and, per reports from this morning, Sens head coach Dave Cameron won’t be fined for his threats of retaliation against Montreal for the slash.