The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn examines the NHL’s awards races via the standard that is his favorite advanced statistic, “Goals Scored Above Replacement Value,” and, not surprisingly, he’s giving the Calder Trophy to Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks based upon one stat:
Last we spoke, Detroit’s dynamic duo seemed to be running away with this award, specifically Lucas Raymond. In the 10 games since, neither player has added much value to Detroit unfortunately and that’s a direct result of five-on-five play. Raymond had seven points (but no goals) over that stretch, but he also has an ugly 38 percent expected goals rate. Moritz Seider didn’t fare much better, at 42 percent, and the rough month now has both players behind the eight ball in terms of on-ice impact. At five-on-five, both players have a 48 percent expected goals rate on the season.
Compare that to the current leader, Trevor Zegras, who is impacting all facets of the ice with 25 points in 30 games and a 56 percent expected goals rate. The latter mark is the second-best on the Ducks. He’s been a major reason the team is back in the playoff hunt, and the Calder should be his to lose at this point.
That can all change as the season goes on though, as there is very little separating the top of the class, with several standouts aside from the three big names. Michael Bunting deserves consideration despite his age for being a perfect fit on the Leafs’ top line next to Auston Matthews. He has some of the strongest five-on-five numbers of any rookie. Alex Carrier doesn’t have the most impressive scoring totals, but he’s thriving defensively in tough shutdown minutes next to Mattias Ekholm. The duo gets the toughest assignments every night, and Carrier has parlayed that into 53 percent of the expected goals. It’s a similar story for Jacob Middleton, who has helped reignite Erik Karlsson’s game in San Jose. Lastly, Carolina’s Seth Jarvis is scoring at a solid 52-point pace while posting impressive five-on-five impacts at both ends of the ice. His 61 percent expected goals rate leads the Hurricanes. He’s a dark-horse candidate.
Continued (paywall); Raymond has hit a wall lately, but I’m not suddenly getting on the Zegras bandwagon due to his surge. If anything, the Red Wings hit a wall, too, dropping 6 of 8 games in December, and I believe that both the team and the two individuals mentioned will rebound.