As Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff notes, Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic is still eligible for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie despite playing in 23 games this past season:
The 25-year-old goaltender played 23 games for the Hurricanes last season. Under the Calder Trophy eligibility rules, there are three ways by which a player relinquishes their rookie status.
To be eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, a player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.
Let’s check off the list. He only played 23 games last season. In 2019-20, Nedeljkovic appeared in four games for the Hurricanes. He saw action in two other one-game stints prior to that, in 2018-19 and 2016-17.
He won’t celebrate his 26th birthday until January 7.
Yes sir, Nedeljkovic is still Calder-eligible. But wait – will the shortened 56-game NHL season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic make any impact on rookie status? Based on an 82-game season, Nedeljkovic’s 23 games would translate to 34 games during a typcial NHL campaign.
According to the NHL, that doesn’t matter. Totals are not being prorated because of the shortened season, just as they weren’t in 1994-95 or 2012-13, two NHL seasons that were shortened to 48 games due to owner lockouts of the players.