Laine vs. Matthews: Who Should Win The Calder?
Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are having two of the best rookie seasons that the NHL have seen in recent years and because of their success they are locked in a heated debate. Who should win the Calder trophy as the NHL's best rookie in 2016-17?
Auston Matthews has scored 31 goals and 24 assists in 64 games this season and has been solid in his defensive game as well. He is easily one of the best all-around rookies that we have seen in recent years. Adding the pressure of playing in the Toronto market Matthews has passed any and all expectations that the Maple Leafs have had for him.
Patrik Laine has 32 goals and 26 assists in 58 games this season and is an offensive dynamo that has scoring ability beyond any rookie I have seen (including Matthews). Laine isn't as strong defensively as Matthews but he definitely isn't a liability in his own end either. He has the crazed fan base of the Winnipeg Jets feeling optimistic about their franchise's future.
Both have gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected for their teams and there's still 18 games left for them to add to their already impressive campaigns. However if I had to pick one of the two for my Calder choice I would have to go with Patrik Laine. Laine has put up more goals, assists and points and has done so in less games, and he also has been a solid all around winger for his team. Laine's explosive offensive capability is slightly above Matthews' and the fact that the Jets are still contending for a playoff spot gives the slight edge to Laine.
Matthews has been equally as impressive, he too has explosive offensive talent and solid defensive skills and also has the Leafs in the heart of the playoff race, but to me the Jets are a more dysfunctional team than the Leafs and because Laine has enjoyed this level of success and (thus far) has outperformed Matthews offensively he has a slight edge in my eyes.
There's still 18 games left, and Matthews could easily win the Calder so the rest of the season is going to be a wild ride and both of these superstars will have to continue to dominate if they want to win the Calder and more importantly get their team into the playoff race.