The Winnipeg Jets enter 2015-2016 coming off the most successful season since relocating in 2011. Led by the fast-paced, hard hitting philosophies of head coach Paul Maurice, the Jets earned 99 points to sneak into the playoffs. The leadership group rose up to the challenges of Maurice and have set the tone for what the “Winnipeg Way” is and the young core of Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Lowry all have showed immense promise. Despite being swept in four games to the veteran Anaheim Ducks, there is plenty to look forward to in the snowy plains of Manitoba’s capital. General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff seems to agree, as he stayed relatively quiet during the off season.
Here’s how this works. In this five piece series we’re going to reveal our three favourite picks plus a sleeper for each of the five fantasy relevant NHL Awards: Hart, Vezina, Calder, Norris, Rocket Richard. Each day of the week we’ll release our lists. Since this is our first post, we’ll start out with our favourite rookies who’ll be in the running for the Calder Trophy.
Side note: These predictions were put together before preseason hockey started. There may be other rookies who if they end up making the final NHL roster, would be ranked in this list.
5. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary Flames
Diminutive in stature at 5’8” but gigantic in talent, the former 2011 fourth round draft pick has done nothing but dominate at every stop. After averaging a ridiculous 1.47 points per game over his sensational three year collegiate career, Gaudreau capped off his junior season by averaging two points per game and running away with the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the best player in Men’s Division I Hockey. Following the departure of Mike Cammalleri via free agency, opportunity knocks in Calgary’s top six for the talented youngster. Mason Raymond and Devin Setoguchi have been brought in to give Gaudreau some competition but neither of these guys is a major threat to Johnny Hockey’s role in Calgary’s top six forward group.
Tune in to this article series for fantasy predictions and analysis on the top 5 sophomores at every position. Using NHL guidelines, a sophomore is anyone who played more than 25 games last season, and who qualified to compete for the Calder trophy. The crop of players entering their second full season can be ripe with potential and often is the type of off the radar pickup that can propel your fantasy team atop the standings. Last year, second year players such as Jaden Schwartz, Brandon Saad, and Gustav Nyquist broke out, while Nail Yakupov and Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau were victims of the sophomore slump. Who will it be this year?
5. Patrick Maroon, LW, Anaheim Ducks
An underrated acquisition for the Ducks back in 2011, Maroon followed up 4 excellent years of seasoning in the AHL with his first full season in the NHL. Playing primarily alongside Mathieu Perrault and Teemu Selanne, Maroon posted a respectable 29 points in 62 games. He’s shown he has the capability of complementing skilled players by using his large body and solid hands, and figures to remain a top 6 option for coach Bruce Boudreau. Following the departure of both Selanne and Perrault, Maroon figures to be a complementing forward to the fantasy goldmine of Getzlaf-Perry, or slotting in down a line with newly acquired Ryan Kesler. His 101 minutes spent in the sin bin add fantasy versatility while sporting the upside of playing for a proven Anaheim Ducks squad.
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