Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman and birthday boy Tyler Myers does not think about the Calder Trophy.The politically correct answer is no,
The correct answer, of course, is yes, Myers, who turns 20 Monday, indeed wonders what winning the trophy would be like.
Myers, almost laughing while answering the predictable Calder Trophy question during a phone interview with NHL.com the other day, chose the P.C. route.
"I mean, I do try not to think about it, but there is so much talk and you hear a lot of people and you hear your name and it's really exciting," Myers told NHL.com. "But at the same time, I'm trying to focus on what I have to do with the Sabres. I'm sure I'll take some time after the year and ponder it a little it more."
But really Tyler, you do think about it, right?
"It's definitely exciting," he answered.
And here we thought we could get a 19-year-old (he was still that age when we talked to him) to bend. He's a stonewall, folks, but that doesn't mean the rest of the hockey community can't stump for Myers by at least going through his Calder credentials.
Myers leads the Sabres and all rookies in ice time at 23:39 per game. His 31 points are tied for third among rookies and 13th among all defenseman in the League. His 24 assists are the most among all rookies, so that means more than fellow candidates John Tavares and Matt Duchene.
And adding to his resume is quite a birthday present -- on Monday he was named NHL Rookie of the Month for January. He had 4 goals and 10 points in 14 games last month, and averaged more than 25 minutes per game.
And did we mention that for the season, he's a plus-8 on a first-place team?
Yup, he is.
"When you look at the way he's played, he's earned every minute," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Ruff, though, wasn't about to get ga-ga over a rookie, even one as important as Myers is to the Sabres.
"I don't want to get too excited," he added. "Now he's got to get through the heavy grind of the second half of the NHL season with a lot of travel. It's just another test for a young man that's in his first year."
So far, he's passing.
"At the start of the year, I never expected to be in the position I am now, but as the year has gone on I have felt more and more comfortable and less surprised with the way I'm playing," Myers said. "I think it's just that I'm figuring out that I'm able to not only play but contribute and produce at this level."
"Earlier on I probably was surprised," Sabres goalie Ryan Miller told the Vancouver Province. "Not anymore I'm not. A few years down the line, I think teams will be awfully scared of him. Already he gets lots of minutes, he's hard to get around, he's good on coverage. When he fills into his frame he's going to be scary."
Myers, the League's second-tallest player behind Boston's Zdeno Chara, is eager to fill out his 6-foot-8 frame, too. He is playing at 221 pounds now and he hasn't gained or lost weight throughout the season. He said he wants to know what it's like to play in this League at 230 or 235.
"I'll see where 230 or 235 takes me and if I need to go up I'll work hard to go up," Myers said. "If I need to come down it won't be too hard."
He'd like to hit 230 at some point during the summer.
"With my body type I have a little trouble putting on a lot of weight on a short amount of time," Myers admitted. "This summer will be a big summer for me. I need to make sure I eat a lot, get a lot of calories and work out pretty hard. I don't think close to 230 is unreasonable, but we'll see."
Myers, though, isn't struggling because he's 10-15 pounds lighter than he'd like to be. For one, his reach is obviously longer than everybody else, save for Chara, so it's still quite difficult to get around him. And, he said he's learned the virtues of the containment game.
Instead of engaging all the time like he did in junior, Myers is trying to play positionally sound defense by using his angles and his reach to his advantage.
"I have really found out this year that I may have to contain sometimes more than I would in junior just because these guys have the strength and power in the offensive zone," Myers said. "I have had to adjust my game a little bit, but as the pounds come and as I get stronger I'll be able to engage a little more."
Then he might have to avoid talking about the Norris Trophy instead.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org