Hockey Correspondent and Comedic Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine
1. Sven Baertschi — Calgary Flames
If you don’t live in Calgary, your first question is, “Who?”
Playing with the Portland Winterhawks last year, Baertschi only racked up 94 points in 47 games. Then, he scored three goals in a five-game stint with the Calgary Flames and anchored the club’s second line. He played all of the locked out season with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, so he’s ready.
Baertschi is the best set-up man coming into the league, and he’ll start the year with Mike Cammalleri — a guy who’s due to break out in his second year of his second stint with the Flames — and another one of Calgary’s talented wingers.
“This morning, I told him, ‘Go out and make mistakes. Show passion. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes,'” Hartley told the Calgary Herald. “If you’re going to play a kid, he’s got lots to learn about the NHL. About the game, the pressure, the preparation — it’s a totally different game.”
Simply put, it could be a banner year for Calgary’s only real flame.
2. Justin Schultz — Edmonton Oilers
This could be the year a defenceman sneaks in and grabs the honours. Honestly, I thought Morgan Rielly would give Schultz a run for his money, but the Leafs curiously dropped him from their opening roster on Friday.
Schultz was an absolute monster with Oklahoma City in 2012, and his chemistry with established stars Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle is imposing. If he gets his ice time — and if the Oilers win, mind you — it could be a banner year for one of last July’s most coveted free agents.
3. Nail Yakupov — Edmonton Oilers
Hey, why not? You go No. 1 for a reason.
4. Vladimir Tarasenko — St. Louis Blues
Tarasenko has become the trendy pick for this year’s Calder, and he’s walking into a healthy situation in St. Louis. The only problem, of course, is that the Blues are loaded. If Tarasenko gets his ice time, he could make the most of his 48 games. If not, he could just Stamkos his way through the only rookie season he’ll ever get.
5. Alex Galchenyuk — Montreal Canadiens
The Habs look terrible, so Galchenyuk will get a chance to show off his gifts in Montreal.