With a goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, New York Islanders rookie Oliver Wahlstrom now has points in five straight games. With six points (three goals and three assists) in those five games, Wahlstrom is up to eight points on the season.
The excitement his play has generated now has fans looking at the Calder trophy odds and wondering why their rookie isn’t in the mix for the award.
So here’s a look at the top five players up for the NHL’s rookie of the year award (based on odds to win), and how Wahlstrom stacks up against the top rookies in the league.
How New York Islanders rookie Oliver Wahlstrom stacks up to the field
As it stands now, there are no odds on Oliver Wahlstrom winning the top rookie honors in 2021. Based on VegasInsider, there are 23 players with odds. The two players with the lowest odds are Morgan Frost and Nick Robertson at +8000.
Morgan Frost has played two NHL games and Robertson has played a single game. Neither have scored a point. With the way Wahlstrom is playing right now, it probably won’t be long until his name finds its way into consideration for the top rookie prize.
Here are the top five rookies up for the Calder Trophy (again, based on VegasInsider):
There are only two players on this list who aren’t wingers like Wahlstrom. So it’s hard to compare him to them. But what Kevin Lakinen is doing in Chicago is pretty incredible. It makes sense that the young goalie is the runner-up right now. You could even convincingly make the case that he should be the front runner.
Ty Smith’s eleven points in 18 games are impressive, but as a defenseman, he’ll need to keep that up and sit close to a point-per-game to win the award. Cale Makar, last year’s winner, had 50 points in 57 games when he won the top rookie prize. At the moment Smith is 0.26 points-per-game off Makar’s Calder winning pace.
Comparing to Wingers
It’s easy to see why this is Kiril Kaprizov’s award to lose. The Minnesota Wild forward is sitting close to a point-per-game with 17 points in 19 games and is a big reason the Wild sit in a playoff position right now.
Tim Stutzle, the second-highest rated winger, is already making quite the impact in Ottawa. He has more games under his belt than Wahlstrom and is scoring at a higher rate (0.63 points-per-game). But he’s also averaging five more minutes of ice-time per game.
There’s no clear indication of what Wahlstrom would do with more ice-time, but with the fact that Wahlstrom is sixth for xGF% on the team at 5on5* you’d have to think putting up more points would be one of those things.
(*For players with at least 120 minutes TOI.)
With ten points in 26 games, Wahlstrom is already scoring at a higher rate than the Nils Hoglander (40th overall pick in 2019). Which tells you that the Islanders rookie could very well move into the discussion soon enough.
Again, unless this point streak extends into double-digit games (unlikely), Wahlstrom is a longshot to win the Calder. But it’s clear he’s one of the top rookies playing right now. And that’s pretty darn impressive.