While Steven Stamkos' name is being mentioned frequently when speaking of the Calder Trophy, it would be a mistake not to consider the likes of Patrik Berglund, Kyle Okposo, Shawn Matthias, Bobby Ryan, Fabian Brunnstrom and Kyle Turris, among others.
Turris, drafted third overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by Phoenix, is coming off a remarkable season with the Wisconsin Badgers from the WHCA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association). In 38 games, he garnered 11 goals and 35 points which were high enough to lead his team in scoring. He also played in the 2007 Super Series, an eight-game challenge series between Russia and Canada's national under-20 teams. He went on to lead the series in goal scoring with 7 as Canada won the series 7-0-1. He finished the series in his hometown of Vancouver where he scored 2 goals and was named MVP. Turris also led Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic, placing as the team's top point producer after successfully capturing the gold medal.
Turris is said to be a dynamic player with offensive skills matched by few in his age category. He's fast on his feet, has a very accurate shot and can handle the puck very well. A balanced offensive player, Turris has the ability to either take the shot himself or set-up a teammate. All this combined with his defensive awareness and ability to find holes are surfacing comparisons of a young Steve Yzerman or Joe Sakic.
While he's not an overly physical player, his endurance and hockey sense allow him to avoid being rattled by the opposition. His 6-1, 170 pound frame will help him adjust to the NHL game in a smoother transition too.
At age 19, there are concerns he may start slow with the Coyotes, but Turris will be moved as the teams #2 center -- moving teammate and possible linemate Peter Mueller to the wing -- so playing behind Olli Jokinen should help his confidence.
Turris is no stranger to success either, accumulating many awards and honors throughout his short hockey career:
- 2006 BCHL Coastal Division Rookie of the Year
- 2006 World Junior A Challenge Most Valuable Player Award
- 2006 World Junior A Challenge All-Star Team
- 2006 World Junior A Challenge Scoring Champion
- 2007 RBC Financial Group Canadian Junior A Player of the Year
- 2007 BCHL Player of the Year
- 2007 WCHA Preseason Freshman of the Year
- 2008 All-WCHA Third Team All-star
- 2008 WCHA All-Rookie Team
All in consideration, it will be an interesting competition for the Calder Trophy. While there are candidates who might break-out and surprise, this year's crop is expected to be led by Stamkos and Turris.
I choose Turris.
Predicted stats for Kyle Turris: