Opening night for the Winnipeg Jets 2022-2023 season is a week and a half away and the Jets’ roster is beginning to take shape.
As NHL rosters begin to get solidified, many people will now place their predictions on what will happen during the upcoming season. Who will win the Stanley Cup? What team will win each division? Who is going to win the individual trophies?
When looking at the individual trophies, there are one or two Winnipeg Jets players who could have a great chance to win the Calder Memorial Trophy.
The Winnipeg Jets may have two players in the running to win the Calder Trophy
The NHL’s official website describes the Calder Trophy as:
"The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.” The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the regular season; each voter ranks the top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system."
The Calder is the NHL’s rookie of the year award. Since the Jets moved back to Winnipeg, they have yet to have a Calder winner. The last player in this franchise to win this award was Danny Heatley as part of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002.
The player who may have the best chance of bringing this award back to the franchise is Cole Perfetti.
The Jets’ first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry draft, is gearing up for his first full NHL season and is one of the frontrunners to win this award.
The thing that plays in Perfetti’s favor is that he has NHL experience under his belt. Last season, the twenty-year-old made his NHL debut and appeared in 18 games in which he scored two goals added five assists and finished with a plus-1 plus/minus. Unfortunately during his second stint with the Jets last year, he suffered a season ending injury.
Perfetti is a pure playmaker and has been a prolific player in both the OHL and AHL. During the 2019-2020 OHL season, Perfetti finished second in the league in points with an incredible 111 points in 61 games (37 goals, 74 assists).
He then played the next season in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose and was second on the team with 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists).
Looking ahead to this upcoming season, Perfetti is expected to play the full season with the Jets and have an increased role where he is expected to play on the second or third line and feature on the powerplay.
It would be no surprise at the end of this season if he is among the top rookies in points scored and is in the conversation to win the Calder.
The other Jet who has a chance of winning this award is someone who has yet to feature in an NHL regular season game and that player is Brad Lambert.
The Jets selected Lambert with their second draft pick in the first round of last summer’s draft. Before last season, Lambert was considered one of the top talents of the draft class, but after an underwhelming season in Finland, the eighteen-year-old’s draft stock fell. Ultimately, Lambert was available when the Jets selected 30th overall and the Jets selected him.
During this preseason, Lambert has taken the NHL and the Jets by storm. The unsigned draft pick has been the talk of the town. His skill and speed have been on full display in every preseason game and he has been one of the most fun players to watch.
If Lambert does start this season in the NHL, he will definitely become a candidate in the Calder race.
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The interesting thing to note is Rick Bowness has kept Perfetti and Lambert on a line during the preseason and we may in fact see these two rookies on a line to start the season. This line will definitely be one that keeps Winnipeg supporters on the edge of their seats.
Winnipeg Jets Fans: Who do you think is going to win the Calder this season? Leave your comments below!