New Jersey Devils: Fabian Zetterlund Could Get Calder Trophy Love

New Jersey Devils left wing Fabian Zetterlund (49): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils left wing Fabian Zetterlund (49): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming into the season, we thought Alexander Holtz was going to be the Calder Trophy candidate on the New Jersey Devils roster. Holtz was set to get minutes with Jack Hughes and Ondrej Palat. His skills had evolved thanks to offseason training with fellow Swede Jesper Bratt. Everything looked like it was set up to get Holtz into the Calder Trophy conversation as the top rookie in the NHL.

Turns out, there was another legitimate Calder Trophy candidate on the roster. Fabian Zetterlund is fourth in the NHL in rookie points. He has 12 points in 18 games. He spent a good amount of time with Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar. Now, he’s taking the spot of Nathan Bastian after he was injured the other night.

The Devils have been using Zetterlund in many different fashions throughout the lineup. Big Z can score goals, stop pucks, and play well in all three zones. The Devils are one of the greatest stories in the NHL this season, so people will be paying attention to the players on the team in terms of award consideration.

The Devils team success will provide them with many other opportunities. Just think about when Taylor Hall won the MVP. We also had Brian Boyle win the Masterton Trophy. That was the last time the Devils went to the playoffs. The run they went on helped solidify Hall as the MVP.

+/- is a very flawed stat, but it’s one that many analysts still use to evaluate talent. Zetterlund currently has the best +/- in the league in terms of rookies. His +12 is still very impressive, even if incredible players like Hischier scored the goals.

Zetterlund is definitely not a favorite right now. Two goalies, Logan Thompson and Stuart Skinner, are both ahead of him at this point. The rookie points lead Matty Berniers will also be hard to beat at this point. There are others in the mix, like Mason McTavish, Jake Sanderson, Shane Pinto and Owen Power.

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Expect Zetterlund’s name to start coming up in these conversations despite the uphill climb he faces. His new role taking Nathan Bastian’s spot on the BMW line (ZMW?) will shine a different spotlight on his skills. If they don’t miss a beat, and Zetterlund is trusted at the end of close wins, then some will argue his 200-foot game will be enough to get him in the conversation.