Stuart Skinner for Calder? It’s not out of the question.
Skinner, the stalwart between the pipes for the Edmonton Oilers, has a compelling case to claim Rookie of the Year honours in the NHL for his efforts in hoisting his club up the Western Conference standings.
The 24-year-old has posted a 25-14-5 record in 44 starts this season, registering a tidy 2.88 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage along the way. The win total, at 25, ranks 11th-best among all netminders, and his stopping figures slot him in the middle of the pack among much more veteran goalies.
Not bad for a kid who was likened to the freshly inked Jack Campbell some seven months ago.
“He’s been awesome,” forward Zach Hyman told media last Thursday. “Obviously coming in as a young guy and then becoming an all-star, really. That’s the progression, right? I don’t know how many people had ‘Stu’ as an all-star on their ballot when the season started, but I think that’s a credit to him and working at his craft and getting just better every day.
“He deserves it. He’s been playing amazing, and we’re lucky to have him.”
And among the freshmen class, Skinner’s stats make him even more likely to be a finalist when it’s time to announce the Calder Memorial Trophy, annually given to “the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey,” as defined by the NHL’s website.
He tops the charts in starts (44), shots (1,434), and saves (1,306), ranks second in save percentage, and third in goals-against average.
It’s bumped Skinner from likely long shot to having the second-best odds at netting the Calder behind the heavily favoured Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken. Beniers, who paces all rookies with 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists), is a -588 favourite, according to Sports Interaction. Skinner slots second at +1,194.
It’d be a heck of a comeback for Skinner, who entered the season a +5,000 long shot. He’d be the first goalie since Steve Mason — then of the Columbus Blue Jackets — in 2008-09 to net the prize.
Skinner’s odds were boosted by a historic month of March.
No goalie in Oilers history registered more wins in a calendar month than Skinner’s 10 victories last month, a mark that surpasses the likes of Andy Moog, Grant Fuhr, Tommy Salo, and Mike Smith.
Overall, Skinner logged a record of 10-1-1 with a 2.83 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage and one shutout.
Not a bad time to get hot, just before leading Edmonton into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sending a little reminder league-wide that he’s as qualified a candidate as they come when it comes to the Calder.