There's little doubt the number of first-year players finding success during this shortened NHL season will make choosing this year's Calder Memorial Trophy winner a painstaking task.
Several names already have been mentioned as viable candidates as the League's top rookie, but at the quarter-mark of the season, St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is our favorite to capture the award.
Not since Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin burst upon the scene in 2006-07 has a Russian player started his career with such promise. During Malkin's Calder Trophy-winning season, he opened with seven goals and 11 points in six games.
Tarasenko had four goals and eight points in his first six games, leaving little doubt that the 2010 first-round NHL Draft pick (No. 16) was ready for the North American game. He's also earned the trust and respect of coach Ken Hitchcock, who has the 21-year-old earning quality minutes among the top-six forwards. He's played mostly on a line with Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen.