I just want to take some time to talk about what rookie standout Niclas Bergfors has been able to do this year. At the start of this season all eyes for the Calder Trophy were on the first three draft picks of the NHL Entry Draft, John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene. However, no one outside of the Devils organization had heard of a Niclas Bergfors. Well let me get you acquainted with the young Swede. He is only 22 years of age and he had 22 goals and 29 assists in 66 games for the Devils AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils last year, so he is a very balanced player.
I have been waiting for Bergfors to get the chance to be a part of New Jersey permanently for a while now. In the off-season, the departures of Brian Gionta, Mike Rupp and John Madden made plenty of room on the Devils offense for youngsters to come up. New Head Coach Jaques Lemaire allowed several players from Lowell to come up, some have stuck and others have gone back down. In comparison with the other rookies around the league, Bergfors is amongst the best and is shaping up to become a serious Calder Trophy candidate (NHL Rookie of the Year).
Rookie A 32 GP 15 G 12 A 27 PTS -1
Rookie B 31GP 2 G 7 A 13 PTS -2
Rookie C 35GP 9 G 10 A 19 PTS -7
Rookie D 31GP 11 G 11 A 22 PTS 0
Rookie E 29GP 8 G 6 A 14 PTS 7
Now take a look at the numbers above. Based on the amount of games played, the balance between goals and assists and the plus/minus rating, who do you think is the best rookie thus far? I know Rookie A has the best numbers and he is fairly balanced between goals and assists, which I find to be important because it means they are finding their teammates on the ice as well as producing goals themselves. I also feel that the plus/minus is important to look at (even though there are people out there that think it is a useless stat) because if it is even or in the plus range it shows that that individual plays strong defense and goals are not occurring against his team while he is on the ice, which I feel is an important thing to look at.
A = John Tavares
B = Victor Hedman
C = Matt Duchene
D = Niclas Bergfors
E = Evander Kane
So there you have it, those are concrete numbers right there for you to make a judgment call on who, at this point, should be nominated for the Calder Trophy. John Tavares would be my pick right now, but you can’t avoid the fact that Niclas Bergfors was not even a thought at the beginning of this year. His success so far can be attributed largely to the players around him as well as GM Lou Lamoriello knowing what he had in Bergie. Watch Bergfors on any given night and you will see a player with excellent speed, a great wrist shot and he crashes the net with reckless abandon when there are rebounds (i.e. Saturday night against the Flyers). He averages 15 minutes on the ice in a given game, which is the second lowest amongst the rookies mentioned above (Evander Kane averages 14 minutes), yet his numbers are solid, meaning he truly is making the most out of his time on the ice.
Bergfors will only get better in the Devils organization, especially around players like Parise, Zajac and Elias who just constantly compliment each others games. A player like Nic is a strong reminder of how great the front office at New Jersey really is, no one had this guy on their radar, yet Lou knew what he was capable of and now the Devils are reaping the benefits of a strong, young, talented rookie.