For the longest time, New Jersey Devils fans have pushed for Ty Smith to get more love in the Calder Trophy race. He’s jumped right into a first-line role with Damon Severson, and he was able to play very well right from the start of the season. Obviously, Kirill Kaprizov is going to win the award by a ton, but there are conversations about Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars getting into the race. Smith deserves at least some of the votes.
However, maybe Smith isn’t even the top rookie on the Devils. Yegor Sharangovich has been amazing this season. He just scored two goals to help the Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers. This, just two days after scoring the game-winning goal to beat those same Flyers to end a 10-game losing streak.
Sharangovich now has 14 goals and 12 assists in 48 games. That puts him on pace for 24 goals and 44 points over a full 82-game season. This isn’t even considering the 17 goals he scored while he was playing in the KHL. Something clicked in Sharangovich, and he’s now an incredible professional hockey player.
The former 5th-round pick is now one of the cornerstones of the Devils. He’s a scoring winger that the team desperately needs. He’s filled in alongside Jack Hughes perfectly. He’s fourth in goals among rookies in the league, and he’s also fourth in points, taking Smith by three points. Only Kaprizov, Robertson, and Josh Norris have more points.
Sharangovich probably won’t get many votes for the Calder Trophy just because of what team he’s on. The Devils are one of the worst teams in the league, so most voters aren’t paying attention. However, Smith was getting Calder love from early in the season and he hasn’t fallen off. He’ll get some votes when it comes to the final tally.
That still doesn’t answer the question. Has Sharangovich become the Devils best rookie? Smith probably still edges him out, but it’s by centimeters at this point. The Devils need a defenseman in the worst way, and Smith stepped up in that role. Sharangovich also plays a very important role, but Smith’s is slightly more important. The Devils really need them both, and they will keep the future bright if they continue on this projection.