PHT is spending Christmas listing the best teams, the most disappointing teams, and making our mid-season awards picks. Because what better day than Christmas to infuriate readers with our opinions!
Mike Halford: Artemi Panarin. Hard to argue with his credentials: 31 points in 36 games, tops among all first-year players, while playing an integral role in Patrick Kane‘s record-setting scoring streak (Kane and Panarin connected 20 times during the run.) Do I take issue with a 24-year-old guy, who started playing professionally in Russia when he was 17, winning the Calder? A bit, yeah, especially since the last five winners were teenagers. But a rookie’s a rookie, and Panarin’s the best of the lot this season.
Jason Brough: I’m gonna go with the leading goal-scorer among rookies. He’s also the fifth-youngest player in the NHL, five years younger than Panarin. I’m, of course, talking about Dylan Larkin, who has 13 goals for the Red Wings, not to mention the potential to be next superstar for a franchise that’s had its share of those. Said GM Ken Holland: “Dylan Larkin, for a lot of reasons — he’s 19 years of age; he’s had a real impact on our team; he’s homegrown; he’s from Waterford, Michigan; he played minor hockey in Detroit — probably has a chance to be the face of the franchise.”