Mailbag: Red Wings rookies Seider, Raymond early Calder Trophy contenders

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What is your take on the Calder Trophy race right now? Cole Caufield being sent down by the Montreal Canadiens while Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are bringing it all. Who are you picking? — @alehtonen_

I picked Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight to win the Calder Trophy voted as NHL rookie of the year before the season. It’s early to move off that pick, especially because Knight has played well, but if Sergei Bobrovsky continues to play like a candidate for Vezina Trophy, given to the goalie voted best in the NHL, it’ll be hard for the 20-year-old behind him to play enough games to earn enough Calder votes. 

Bobrovsky is 6-0-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .944 save percentage (11 goals on 198 shots) in six games. Knight is 2-0-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .929 save percentage (six goals on 85 shots) in three games. I picked Knight thinking Bobrovsky could struggle, and Knight would have the No. 1 job by December of January. Clearly, Bobrovsky has thrived so far.

Seider was named NHL Rookie of the Month for October. I would say the Detroit Red Wings defenseman is the early favorite for the Calder with about 11 percent of the schedule completed (143 of 1,312 games have been played to date). Seider has been physical, aggressive in the corners, strong with the puck on his stick, smart with his reads, and a weapon on the power play. He leads Detroit and NHL rookies with eight assists, including four on the power play. He was also the first Red Wings defenseman in history to score eight points in his first nine NHL games. Nicklas Lidstrom scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in his first nine games, and he’s one of the best defensemen to play in the NHL. Seider is playing 22:26 per game, first among rookies and second on the Red Wings behind defenseman Filip Hronek (23:05). He looks like a future franchise defenseman.

Raymond looks good, but three of his four goals and four of his nine points (four goals, five assists) came in a 6-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 24. If he continues to produce at a point per game pace, then he’ll be running neck and neck with his teammate in the Calder Trophy race. 

Video: CHI@DET: Seider rifles slap shot for PPG

 

It is possible to see the Panthers at 9-0-1 vs. the 9-0-0 Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday assuming both win this week and stay without a regulation loss. When is the last time that happened? Is this something the NHL has been looking for? — @theashcity

This would be an NHL first. According to NHL Stats, there has never been an instance when two teams, each without a regulation loss through at least their first nine games of a season, have played each other. There has been one game with one team without a regulation loss through nine games and the other without one through eight. That was Oct. 28, 1972, when the Montreal Canadiens (6-0-3 ties) played the Buffalo Sabres (5-0-3 ties) to a 3-3 tie. Montreal stayed without a regulation loss through 13 games (9-0-4). Buffalo went to 10 games without one (6-0-4).

This would be history, so that’s pretty special. I think it also helps that we’re talking about Sun Belt teams having this type of success. Fans flock to the buildings in these markets when their teams are good, and the Panthers and Hurricanes are built for sustained success. But to make it happen the Hurricanes first have to win or at least get to overtime at the Blackhawks on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH+, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) and the Panthers have to do the same when they host the Washington Capitals on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; BSFL, NBCSWA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). 

 

What is the likelihood the New Jersey Devils are going to trade P.K. Subban? Do we see Alexander Holtz called up given his early success in the American Hockey League and Jack Hughes‘ timeline for a return? — @paulgodfrey_

Subban’s availability prior to the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline on March 21 will depend on the Devils’ place in the standings. 

The 32-year-old defenseman is in the final season of an eight-year contract he signed with the Canadiens on Aug. 2, 2014. If the Devils have a chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Subban is playing a significant role, as we should expect of him, they might treat him as their own rental and keep him. They would be ahead of their timeline if they made the playoffs this season, but a run at getting in, potentially getting in, would be of huge benefit to their younger players. That experience is invaluable, and if the Devils believe Subban can help them with it, then it makes sense to keep him rather than trade him for draft picks. His future beyond this season is not with the Devils, but he can help them now, and that value must be weighed against what he would be worth as a rental defenseman on the open market, likely with the Devils needing to retain salary in any trade to make the NHL salary cap work for the acquiring team. 

As for Holtz, the 19-year-old forward has scored five goals in four games for Utica of the American Hockey League. That’s hard to ignore. A call-up wouldn’t surprise me based on his skill and level of production, but he wouldn’t come to New Jersey because of Hughes’ injury. The Devils announced last week that Hughes would be out at least five more weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. They would recall Holtz, the No. 7 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, if they feel he’s ready to play in the NHL. That would happen with or without Hughes. If Holtz is coming, he’s coming to play as a top-nine forward, and perhaps eventually with Hughes on the top line.

 

Would the Boston Bruins still re-sign Tuukka Rask since Linus Ullmark is off to a strong start? — @bahstonspahts

Rask re-signing with the Bruins this season would have less to do with Ullmark and more to do with Jeremy Swayman. Boston’s 22-year-old rookie goalie has to prove he can be a reliable backup to Ullmark this season, capable of playing every third game and winning at least 15 games to get the Bruins into the playoffs. He is 1-2-0 with a 2.71 GAA and an .893 save percentage, although five of the eight goals he allowed came in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 20. The sample size is too small to get a good read on him. 

Ullmark’s strong start at 3-1-0 with a 2.23 GAA and .927 save percentage (nine goals on 123 shots) is to be expected. The Bruins signed the former Sabres goalie to a four-year, $20 million contract July 28 to be their new No. 1. They couldn’t rely on Rask because of his hip surgery and a rehab that will take him potentially through January, and they were not about to give Swayman the job with his NHL experience limited to 10 starts last season. 

Ullmark is in for the long haul, but if the Bruins aren’t convinced by Swayman, I expect they’ll circle back with Rask and, if the 34-year-old is ready and wants it, sign him through at least this season and possibly next season. That would give the Bruins a tandem of Ullmark and Rask and allow Swayman to play and mature in the AHL with Providence. That might be the plan regardless of how Swayman plays because the Bruins will not want to be caught in a situation where Ullmark gets injured and they have to go into the playoffs with a rookie goalie. Rask is a better option if he’s healed and healthy. 

Video: BOS@BUF: Ullmark makes save with the back of his leg

 

In the Islanders-Predators game on Saturday, Filip Forsberg took a penalty at 5:00 of overtime. How and why was he then permitted to take one of the shots in the shootout? — @martmonk

I consulted Stephen Walkom, the NHL senior vice president and director of officiating supervision. He pointed me in the direction of Rule 84.4 in the 2021-22 NHL Rulebook, which deals directly with the shootout, and it specifically states the following:

“All players are eligible to participate in the shootout unless they are serving a 10-minute misconduct or have been assessed a game misconduct or match penalty. When a (goalie) has been assessed a misconduct, the player designated to serve the misconduct penalty becomes ineligible for the shootout.”

So clearly, the reason Forsberg was allowed to shoot in the shootout, and score the deciding goal for the Nashville Predators, is because his penalty at 5:00 of overtime was a minor for hooking New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal. Essentially, the penalty did not put the Predators at a disadvantage or the Islanders at an advantage because of the timing of it.

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