The 2022 NHL season will begin on October 12. However, it is still shrouded in mystery because many teams have made drastic changes to their lineups over the past few weeks. Teams such as the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues have made significant progress in their chances of winning the Stanley Cup.
However, the most significant change to teams’ lineups will likely be made within the organization. Many promising NHL prospects are about to get their first chance at the big league.This is especially true after COVID-19 opened the doors for many of these players to play in North America and gain some professional experience.
These include high-profile prospects with a good chance of winning the Calder trophy and being amongst the best NHL players at their positions.Prospects such as Jamie Drysdale and Cole Perfetti will likely all have great NHL careers. However, they won’t make the five-player list I will present below.
This is not because of anything wrong with their game but simply because of how talented the 2022 rookie crop will be.Many young players in the 2022 NHL season can win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Given the strength of this Year’s rookie class, we have listed top 15 contenders for the early Calder Trophy. They will compete to be the 2022 rookies of the Year.
The Top Calder Trophy Candidates Of 2022
Spencer Knight, G, FLA
Knight was 40-0 with a save percentage of.919 in four regular-season games and 1-1 with an SV% of.933 in two Stanley Cup Playoff starts with the Florida Panthers.
He is a top-10 fantasy goalie and will be competing with Sergei Bobrovsky (.902SV% in 81 games with them over two seasons) for the job of starting this season, behind one the deepest skating groups in the NHL.
Cole Caufield, RW, MTL
In 10 regular-season games, Caufield scored five goals (four assists, one goal) and two overtime goals. He also led NHL rookies with 12 goals (four and eight assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff matches.
He became the first-ever rookie to score three overtime goals in a single postseason. He is expected to be playing on the same line as Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli, both highly skilled forwards.
Jeremy Swayman, G, BOS
Swayman, who was 7-3-0 and had two shutouts in 10 Boston Bruins games last regular season, was the NHL’s leader in save percentage (.945).
He was also 0-1 in one Stanley Cup playoff appearance. Swayman will be part of a strong timeshare partnership with Linus Ulmark, who signed a four-year contract on July 28.
Kaapo Kahkonen, G, MIN
Kahkonen is 19-9-1 in 29 NHL games for the Minnesota Wild. He also put together a 12-4-0 streak that included a nine-game winning streak and 2.05 goals-against average,927 save rate, and two shutouts on March 16.
Kahkonen’s role in the team diminished after the winning streak. Still, Minnesota is ranked fifth in NHL.com fantasy goalie tandem rankings due to the rookie’s high upside and his ability to backup veteran Cam Talbot.
Trevor Zegras, C, ANA
Zegras had 13 points, three goals, and ten assists in 24 NHL games last season for the Anaheim Ducks and had 53 goals on goal in the Anaheim Ducks’ regular-season games.
He also scored 21 points in San Diego’s regular-season games of the American Hockey League, scoring ten goals and 11 assists.
Zegras will be competing for a top-six or first power-play position with the possibility of being exposed to Max Comtois (or Rickard Rakell) valuable wings.
Vasily Podkolzin RW, VAN
Podkolzin signed a 3-year entry-level contract with Vancouver Canucks, on May 30, 2018. He scored 11 points last season (six goals and five assists) in 16 games with SKA St. Petersburg, Kontinental Hockey League. This is the same as his 35-game regular-season total.
Podkolzin will compete with wings Conor Garland, picked up from Arizona Coyotes July 23, and Nils Hoglander to be a top-six player with exposure to either Bo Horvat or Elias Pettersson.
Quinton Byfield C, LAK
Byfield was a Los Angeles Kings player who scored one point in six NHL games last season. He also scored 20 points in 32 American Hockey League games, eight goals, and 12 assists.
Byfield will compete for the third-line center role, behind Phillip Danault and Anze Kopitar (signed a six-year contract July 28, 2008).
Jamie Drysdale, D, ANA
Drysdale had eight points last season, including three goals and five assists in 24 NHL games. He scored 10 points in San Diego’s regular-season games (four goals and six assists) for the AHL.
Drysdale tied Cam Fowler (0.41) for second place among Anaheim defensemen with 0.33 points per game. He could be the Ducks’ best fantasy player at this position as soon as this season.
Bowen Byram, D, COL
In 19 NHL games, Byram had two points for the Colorado Avalanche (no goals, no assists) last regular season.
Byram is part of a solid defense that includes fantasy-relevant options Cale Makar and Samuel Girard and veteran Erik Johnson (who was limited to just four games last season due to injury).
Byram should be a priority in fantasy keeper and fantasy dynasty leagues. He could also be a valuable fantasy pick in standard formats as soon as this season.
Marco Rossi, C, MIN
Rossi was the Ontario Hockey League’s leading scorer with 120 points in 56 games in 2019-20. He is now healthy, having missed the NHL last Year due to COVID-19 complications.
This season, Rossi could be the Wild’s first- or second-line center, with the possibility of exposure to elite wing Kirill Caprizov (who won the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the Year last season).
Drouin will be a key player in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s success this season. If Drouin and Steven Stamkos develop chemistry early, they could be one of the most powerful offensive duos in the NHL over many years.
This year’s rookie class is expected to be strong, with many top prospects competing for roster spots with their clubs.
Some players, including those mentioned above, will have strong rookie seasons, which will make them top contenders for the Calder Memorial Trophy.