Logan Couture should win the Calder 

April, 6, 2011

After watching this rookie class for nearly an entire regular season, I can say these freshmen have a lot to be proud of.

In NHL cities across North America, newcomers have been making their marks in different ways. We've seen goal scorers and playmakers, puck movers and defensive specialists as well as some super savers.

As you know, I've ranked my top five rooks on the first Wednesday of each month. With just a few days left before the playoffs begin, I give you my final Calder Watch rankings.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to watch these freshmen in the postseason. Of course, that won't change my Calder Trophy thinking. The official voting is conducted before the start of the playoffs.

If your favorite rookie didn't make my list, don't fret. It's just my opinion. Please don't hesitate to send me yours.

1. Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks

Throughout the past several months, on my list, Couture's complete game has kept him a stride ahead of his rookie classmates. I really like the fact that he's become an impact player on a strong team that has earned a division title. The No. 9 pick in 2007, Couture has been just as much a part of the Sharks' success as top stars such as Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley.

Through 76 games, the Guelph, Ontario, native has piled up a lot of impressive numbers. Couture has notched 31 goals, 54 points and a plus-19 rating. And there's more. He has nine power-play goals, eight game-winning goals, a rookie-best 244 shots and a 53.4 success rate in the faceoff circle.

The number that might mean the most, however, is 17:51. That's his average ice time. Clearly, San Jose coach Todd McLellan hasn't been afraid to use the 22-year-old in any game situation. The fact that he has earned that kind of confidence from his coach should tell you something.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.