NHL Midseason Awards: Seider, Zegras tied in PHT Calder Trophy voting

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How wild is Calder Trophy eligibility? According to the NHL, a player fits the criteria if they have not played more than 25 game in a single preceding season or six or more games in any two preceding season in any major professional league. A player also cannot be older than 26 years old by Sept. 15 of their rookie season.

All that means that Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, a Calder finalist last season remains eligible for the award this season. He fell short to Kirill Kaprizov, but maybe 2021-22 will be his year! Jake Allen benefited from these rules after he broke into the NHL as he was named the goaltender on the 2012-13 and 2014-15 All-Rookie teams.

The Calder Trophy is awarded to the “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” It is voted own annually by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

TOTAL BALLOTS (Points allocation: 10-7-5 for 1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Moritz Seider, Red Wings – 37 (20-7-10)
Trevor Zegras, Ducks – 37 (20-10-7)
2. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings – 31 (10-21-0
3. Anton Lundell, Panthers – 5 (0-0-5)

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor

1. Moritz Seider, Red Wings
2. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings
3. Trevor Zegras, Ducks

Zegras gets most of the publicity because of his highlight reel plays but Seider has been the best rookie this season at a very tough position, a young defenseman. Raymond was questionable to even make the Red Wings this season but got his big break when Jakub Vrana went down in training camp and Raymond has not looked back since. He leads all rookies with 35 points. Watch out for Anton Lundell as well as he has been hot of late.

James O’Brien, NHL writer

1. Moritz Seider, Red Wings
2. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings
3. Trevor Zegras, Ducks

Seider checks all the boxes: workload, production, even the “fancy stats.” Raymond and Zegras are both already essential scorers for their teams. That said, there’s room for movement in the Calder Trophy race — don’t sleep on Michael Bunting, Seth Jarvis, and others. (Also, imagine where Matt Boldy might rank if he didn’t suffer an injury before he even got started.)

Sean Leahy, NHL writer

1. Trevor Zegras, Ducks
2. Moritz Seider, Red Wings
3. Anton Lundell, Panthers

If you’re a rookie and you provide the hockey world with two plays that go viral and you put up points, you deserve plenty of recognition. Zegras has brought the fun to the NHL this season and his 12 goals are third among rookies while his 32 points is second. We just need him at the NHL Awards show to do another cool thing.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content

1. Trevor Zegras, Ducks
2. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings
3. Moritz Seider, Red Wings

Zegras and Raymond are neck and neck; I’m giving Zegras the edge right now because he’s got more responsibility as a center. Their production has been similar to this point so I think this will come down to the stretch run. If Anaheim makes the playoffs, that could work in Zegras’ favor as well.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer

1. Lucas Raymond, Red Wings
2. Trevor Zegras, Ducks
3. Moritz Seider, Red Wings

These three are at the top of the class this season, and really, I would have no objection to them being in any order. Raymond and Seider are going to be the foundation pieces the Red Wings need to build around for years, while Zegras already looks like the star the Ducks have been lacking in their rebuild.

Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

“Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

“Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

“Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

“Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

“We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

“They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.