Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Calder is Mason's To Lose

The NHL announced the finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy that recognizes the top rookie for the year. Steve Mason of Columbus, Bobby Ryan of Anaheim, and Kris Versteeg of Chicago are the finalist, but let's be honest-- it's Mason's.

No slight on Ryan, who lead all rookies in goals (31) and points (57), or Versteeg, who was an early season favorite, but turned into a role player; but Mason was the story of the year for the rookies. Mason, from out of utter obscurity, became the reason why the Blue Jackets were able to get into their first playoffs in franchise history. With 33 wins, 10 shutouts, and a 2.29 GAA, Mason was nothing less than stellar when called upon by the Blue Jackets.

Mason was a late-bloomer on all sorts of levels of hockey, but the fact of the matter is that he came on at the right time for the Jackets. With Pascal Leclaire going down to injury for the season and Freddy Norrena being released to make room for Mason in the first place, Mason went in with no pressure, no expectations, and that could have allowed him to play the way he did. As the attention grow onto him, he played up to it and not let the hype get to him. Maybe playing in a place like Columbus was the place for him in order to not get caught up in his own hype machine.

The shock in this was the lack of rookies coming on during the second half of the season, though Ryan may be considered one in that camp, but nothing that was explosive enough to overshadow the feats that Mason put forth. Albeit, you'll have some people maybe putting up an arguement for Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who had 29 wins, seven shutouts, and a 2.38 GAA, but it is not to be in the Music City.

Unless the voters totally turned on Mason for one reason or another, I doubt that he'll lose out on this award on June 18th.

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