Stars’ Jason Robertson is climbing up the Calder Trophy ranks

Stars' Jason Robertson is climbing up the Calder Trophy ranks
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No, Jason Robertson‘s name isn’t on the tip of the tongues of Calder Trophy voters. You won’t see Robertson, promising Dallas Stars rookie, as a favorite over frontrunner Kirill Kaprizov.

As Robertson becomes more and more important to the Stars’ playoff push, he’ll be tough for Calder voters to totally ignore, though.

Stars’ Jason Robertson starting to build a dark horse Calder case

Luckily, it’s easy to form the foundation of Jason Robertson’s case as a potential Calder finalist. You just need to look at the list of leading rookie scorers.

While Kirill Kaprizov leads all rookie scorers (27 points in 33 games played), Robertson comes in second with 21 points in 27 contests. When you consider points-per-game, Robertson’s .78 average isn’t far behind that of Kaprizov (.82). Robertson leads other top rookies in points, even though Tim Stützle (19 points in 33 GP) and others appeared in more games.

Robertson’s also done so without having the same green light, all season, as Kaprizov. Kaprizov’s time-on-ice average is 18:06 per game. That’s not far off from impressive rookie defensemen such as K'Andre Miller (20:31) and Ty Smith (19:30).

Generating points just a stride or two behind Kaprizov, despite not getting the same opportunities off the bat, is impressive.

Ultimately, Robertson’s assertive game helped him force his way into a bigger role with the Stars, and the Calder conversation.

“He’s an offensive player, talented and very confident in his abilities,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said in Early March. “Robo’s got tremendous offensive skills and vision, and the confidence to back it up. We have to make sure he is with the right players because the defensive side of the game will improve, but, again, we are asking an awful lot from these kids.”

“We need to play them. They are going to play, and he will keep getting better.”

Becoming a bigger part of the offense — and sometimes part of a “Super Line”

It’s OK if Jason Robertson snuck up on you. Even the Stars might not have been totally ready for Robertson’s breakthrough.

On one hand, sure, he has some pedigree; the Stars selected Robertson early in the second round (39th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. But that’s not a can’t-miss pick like Stützle at third overall, and there also hasn’t been the anxious wait like Wild fans suffered through with Kaprizov.

It’s even fair to wonder: what if, as Bowness might say, the Stars didn’t need to play “those kids?”

Tyler Seguin‘s recovery from surgery, injuries to the likes of Alexander Radulov, and other variables opened the door for Robertson to earn a foothold with the Stars. To his credit, he’s running with this opportunity.

  • During the past seven games, Robertson logged 18:53 TOI or more. In a shootout loss to the Predators, the 21-year-old notched 22:09 in ice time.
  • In two January appearances, Robertson averaged less than 10 minutes per game. That went up, modestly, to 12:49 per game in nine February contests. With March just about over, Robertson averaged 17:58 per night, collecting 15 points in 16 games.
  • To start, Robertson (or “Robo”) really started to create chemistry with Roope Hintz. As the Stars got more desperate for offense, they decided to load up with Robertson, Hintz, and Joe Pavelski.

That … ended up being a pretty good idea.

As a rookie on a defense-obsessed team like the Stars, Robertson will probably suffer some setbacks. Bowness practically set the stage for a future benching by talking about how his defensive game “will improve.”

Once Seguin gets back, the leeway might fade. And while there is room for defensive improvement, Robertson’s the sort of net positive that should force the Stars to accept the occasional hiccup. Even early on, the underlying numbers via Evolving Hockey are quite impressive:

Jason Robertson Dallas Stars RAPM Evolving Hockey Calder Trophy Dark Horse
via Evolving Hockey

That might not be Calder frontrunner material, at least with the spotlight on Kaprizov (and also someone like Kevin Lankinen). But none of that should take away from Robertson’s strong rookie season, and how important he’s rapidly become to the Stars.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.