Rookie Blue: Calder Trophy coming back to St.Louis?
Ten seasons ago, a 21 year old rookie defenseman named Barret Jackman of the St. Louis Blues beat out Henrik Zetterberg and Rick Nash to capture NHL Rookie of the Year honours.
The 17th pick in the 1999 entry draft, had 3 goals, 19 points and 190 penalty minutes to go with a +23 rating and logged a lot of ice time for the Blues.
An injury plagued sophomore season and an NHL Lockout prevented him from returning to full action until the 2005-2006 season.
Since then, he has become one of the Blues most reliable defensive defenseman, a hard nosed aggressive blueliner who has retained a positive plus minus rating the past 3 seasons and serves as one of the assistant captains of the club.
Plus minus is not a high profile stat up in the ranks with goals and assists, but being a consistent plus player is a highly underrated attribute, especially for a defenseman.
Now all eyes are back on the Blues for a Calder favorite early into this season.
Also 21 years old as a rookie and the 16th pick in the 2010 draft, Vladimir Tarasenko has burst onto the NHL scene.
Four goals and eight points in his first 6 games, including a highlight reel goal in his first NHL game vs the Detroit Red Wings.
But what may be most impressive so far is the fact that he has earned Head Coach Ken Hitchcock's praise so early in his career. Hitchcock says he is a complete player who handles himself well in all three zones and works hard every shift.
Another huge compliment for the rookie was when Hitchcock acknowledged the level of respect Tarasenko has for not only other players on the Blues, but the game of hockey itself and how difficult it is to not only make it to the NHL but the hard work and dedication it takes to stay in the league and play at a high level every night, calling him " a throwback to the way players were in the 70's and 80's."
This years rookie class is very strong with the likes of Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Damien Brunner, Michael Granlund and Cory Conacher in the mix.
But I think the red "Russian Tank" will bring the Calder gold back to the Blues when it's all said and done.
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