With today's roster announcements, we're nearly ready to start the 2013 NHL season. And looking over the rookies who will at least break camp with the big club, it's hard not to think defenseman Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers is the front runner for this season's Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's rookie of the year.
Playing in Oklahoma City, Edmonton's AHL affiliate, has only added to his hype after he lit the lamp 18 times and added 30 assists in just 34 games to start his professional career.
Despite the early success in the AHL, Schultz will certainly have competition for the Calder. Based on what we know of NHL rosters as of Friday afternoon, here are my top 10 Calder candidates for this season, starting with Schultz at the top.
1) Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers: The 6-foot-2 right-shot blueliner is a product of the University of Wisconsin. Combine his summer courtship drama with his early AHL success and the hockey world has been buzzing about him for some time now. His skating, shot and ability to process pressure on the ice are all of NHL quality. He breaks into the league as a 22-year-old, which gives him an advantage over some of the "true rookies" who come in fresh from the draft at age 18. One potential problem area I see is that his early success may add to the pressure to produce in the NHL, and there could be some rough patches.