As the season winds down, I've been getting more and more questions about the different awards -- particularly the Calder Trophy. As you know if you've been a regular reader, I think that this season's freshman class has been a deep one. I don't think there's been that one breakout star (Jeff Skinner probably comes closest), but rather I see it as a group of many really good players.
Next Wednesday, I'll give you my end-of-season top five Calder watch list. For now, I'll offer the pros and cons -- as I see them -- for the candidacy of six of the league's top rookies. For the record (or, in case you don't figure it out), I'm listing these six players in alphabetical order.
Pros: The 21-year-old has shown an ability to help his team at both ends of the rink. He has 33 points, ranking him fourth among rookie defenders, while posting a strong plus-20 rating. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau isn't afraid to use Carlson against an opponent's top players. He leads all rookies with an average ice time of 22:32, and he has three winning goals.
Cons: Like Logan Couture, Carlson had a leg up on his classmates, playing in 22 regular-season and seven playoff games last season. That could work against him with some voters. Playing alongside some high-profile players in D.C., Carlson gets a little lost in the shuffle, and that could hurt him as well.
To read the E.J. Hradek's complete evaluations of this year's top rookies, become an ESPN Insider today.