The Carolina Hurricanes almost had a Calder Nominated player.
While Carolina Hurricanes Rookie Martin Necas fell short of a Calder Trophy nomination, his candidacy should have been more prominent in the conversation.
The Calder Cup is a trophy awarded to the most valuable NHL rookie, as voted on by individuals a part of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The finalists were announced on July 15 as defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, forward Dominik Kubali of the Chicago Blackhawks, and defenseman Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
Carolina Hurricanes’ rookie center Martin Necas was Carolina’s first pick and twelfth overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He has made a considerable impact on the team after making his full-time debut on the roster this season, accumulating 36 points in 64 games.
Frontrunner Quinn Hughes accumulated 53 points so far this season, as the Canucks will be facing off against the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Should Necas have been more prominent in the Calder Trophy conversation?
The greatest argument in favor of Necas’ achievements this season, in my opinion, is what he accomplished in the ice time he was given. Sara Civian tweeted this point to a fan, saying “Look what he’s been doing with such little ice time”. I think that if ice time was a more significant factor, Necas would be in the conversation without a doubt.
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For a point of reference, Quinn Hughes had an average time on ice this season of 21:37, Dominik Kubali had 14:22, and Cale Makar had 21:01 compared to Necas’ 14:10. While Kubali put up ten points more than Necas during the regular season, it is important to note that Necas stayed in the Calder conversation despite almost seven minutes of less ice time than the frontrunner.
The goal above exemplifies Necas as an absolute force for the Carolina Hurricanes. The old adage “making it look easy” is overused in sports, but I can’t say that it doesn’t come to mind when I watch Martin Necas.
The sheer speed that Necas showcases to skate through a defensive hole and gracefully find the open side of the net makes this one of my favorite goals of the year. Also, that celly is quite spectacular.
Despite the ups and downs of the Canes season, Necas has remained fairly consistent in terms of point production. He has averaged six goals a month, with his best month being November with ten points. Necas only accounted for one assist in March, but this is not a terrible number considering there were only four games played by the team.
Do I think that Necas deserves the Calder Trophy? It is hard to argue with numbers like those of Quinn Hughes, and it seems that the player with the most points will usually take home the trophy. Fortunately, Necas’ best days with Carolina are still in the future, and his development to center has taken a very nice trajectory.
Trocheck’s signing seems to indicate that Brind’Amour is not ready for Necas to transition to center. I’m actually ok with this decision for several reasons. First, I think that it is important that Necas is given the room and opportunity to grow on the level of the NHL. It would be counterproductive to push him into a position before he was ready and stunt his point production.
Also, Necas can learn a lot from someone like Vincent Trocheck. Training camp has produced a line of Necas or Ryan Dzingel with Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter. I have high hopes for this line, as I wrote about Vincent Trocheck coming into his own as a Carolina Hurricane.
While Necas wasn’t at the top of the list for Calder consideration, it is important to note that his point production maybe even stronger once he transitions to his role as a center. He has showcased talent this year that has made the hockey world pay attention, and Necas might be the player I’m most excited to see back in action.