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Super 16: Naming the All-Calder team

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

All the talk about the top-flight rookie class this season has led to early season debates about whether Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid or Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel can be caught by a trailing pack of contenders for the Calder Trophy.

But why debate the Calder Trophy race now? Why not do a more constructive exercise, such as trying to figure out what the lineup would look like if you could have a team of rookies this season?

Doesn't that seem like more fun than a trophy debate that won't be decided until June? Yes, yes it does. So let's do that instead before getting into this week's rankings, which are flooded with rookie influence.

FORWARDS

Artemi Panarin - Connor McDavid - Nikolaj Ehlers

Max Domi - Jack Eichel - Anthony Duclair

Dylan Larkin - Oscar Lindberg - Sam Reinhart

Mattias Janmark - Sam Bennett - Daniel Sprong

Extras: Nikolay Goldobin, Jordan Martinook

The top three lines are loaded with speed and skill. Each line has a strong influence of defensive awareness, particularly down the middle. The fourth line has a lot of promise, even if Bennett and Sprong have had some hit-or-miss games.

McDavid is with Ehlers and Panarin because that seems like a line that would be able to have the puck and never give it up by making 10-foot passes all over the ice. The second line was put together because it's three elite skaters that play a similar north/south style.

This forward group is loaded with lefties; nine in total. The only righties are Eichel, Panarin, Reinhart and Sprong. Ehlers, Duclair and Panarin have looked comfortable playing on their off wings.

DEFENSEMEN

Ben Hutton - Colton Parayko

Griffin Reinhart - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Noah Hanifin - Klas Dahlbeck

Extra: Jake McCabe

Parayko (St. Louis Blues) and Hutton (Vancouver Canucks) have had surprisingly strong starts. Neither was expected to be on an NHL roster at this point in the season, but both had strong training camps and that solid play has extended into the regular season.

Hutton entered play Thursday averaging 18:49 of ice time through six games. Parayko is averaging 18:35 in seven games on a defense that also features Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. He was elevated to a top-four role because of an injury to Kevin Shattenkirk. Both have three points.

Van Riemsdyk is going to be elevated into a bigger role now with Duncan Keith out of the Chicago Blackhawks lineup. He's been solid so far this season because he's skated well and has been in position. Reinhart, like his team (Edmonton Oilers), has been up and down.

The Coyotes believe Dahlbeck is a future top-four defenseman ad Hanifin is a future top-pair defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes.

GOALIES

Mike Condon

Matt O'Connor

Both have played one game, coincidentally against each other, but they looked solid. Condon allowed one goal on 21 shots in the Montreal Canadiens' 3-1 win against O'Connor and the Ottawa Senators. O'Connor made 31 saves.

The defense and goaltending might be lagging behind the forwards, but that's normal considering it's a team of rookies. But this lineup might be able to win a few games in the NHL, or at least be competitive, and that speaks to the depth of the rookie class this season.

Now, for the rankings:

DISCLAIMER: While the Super 16 is NHL.com's weekly power rankings, the focus will be more on the "power" than the "rankings" when determining the order. It's not always going to look like the League standings. If two teams are close the tiebreaker almost always is this: If the two teams started a seven-game series right now, who would prevail?

All rankings, records and statistics are through the games played Wednesday night. Don't ignore the scattered links to good stories either:

1. Montreal Canadiens (7-0-0)

Last week: No. 1

What's good: Carey Price has been every bit as outstanding as he was last season.

What's not so good: There's really no reason to nitpick at anything.

Top rookie: G Mike Condon (1-0-0, .952 save percentage, 1.00 GAA)

Go in depth on the Canadiens' hot start with NHL.com correspondent Rob Vollman (@robvollmanNHL)

2. Washington Capitals (4-1-0)

Last week: No. 9

What's good: Nicklas Backstrom is back in a big way, with three goals and five points in his first two games.

What's not so good: It's hard to find flaws in wins against Chicago, Carolina and Calgary by a combined score of 14-4.

Top rookie: RW Stanislav Galiev (0-1-1 in two games)

Alex Ovechkin reached another milestone recently

3. St. Louis Blues (5-2-0)

Last week: No. 10

What's good: Among a lot of good, they led the NHL in faceoffs (53.5 percent).

What's not so good: Center Paul Stastny is out because of a broken right foot; he'll be re-evaluated in five weeks.

Top rookie: D Parayko (2-1-3, plus-3, 61.42 SAT percentage in seven games)

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2-1)

Last week: No. 2

What's good: Defenseman Victor Hedman is OK and playing after an injury scare against Dallas last Friday.

What's not so good: The penalty kill, which was 30th in the NHL at 66.7 percent (14 for 21).

Top rookie: None

5. New York Islanders (4-1-1)

Last week: NR

What's good: They've won four in a row and have scored at least four goals in every win.

What's not so good: They're giving up 33.7 shot per game, 29th in the NHL.

Top rookie: None

6. Nashville Predators (5-1-0)

Last week: No. 4

What's good: They've scored the first goal in every game and haven't allowed a goal in the first period entering Thursday.

What's not so good: Cody Hodgson, targeted as the No. 3 center, has zero points in six games.

Top rookie: LW Victor Arvidsson (1-0-1 in three games)

7. Dallas Stars (5-1-0)

Last week: No. 15

What's good: They were in the top 10 in the League in power play (30.0 percent, No. 3) and penalty kill (86.7 percent, No. 8) entering Thursday.

What's not so good: Valeri Nichushkin is still trying to find his game after missing most of last season.

Top rookie: LW Mattias Janmark (2-2-4 in six games)

8. Chicago Blackhawks (3-3-0)

Last week: No. 7

What's good: The line of Panarin, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov continues to produce.

What's not so good: Keith is out 4-6 weeks after having knee surgery.

Top rookie: RW Panarin (2-5-7 in six games)

Read about how the Blackhawks might be able cope without Keith

9. Minnesota Wild (3-1-1)

Last week: No. 6

What's good: They scored a power-play goal in each of their first four games after going nine straight games to start last season without one.

What's not so good: Devan Dubnyk had an .887 save percentage in four starts through Thursday.

Top rookie: None

10. Winnipeg Jets (4-2-0)

Last week: No. 11

What's good: Three of their four wins have come in games when they allowed the game's first goal.

What's not so good: They were last in the NHL in faceoffs at 44.8 percent entering Thursday.

Top rookie: RW Ehlers (1-3-4 through six games)

11. New York Rangers (4-2-1)

Last week: No. 5

What's good: They've been dominant in the first period, outscoring opponents 10-2 entering Thursday.

What's not so good: Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, New York's top two left wings, each had no goals through seven games.

Top rookie: F Oscar Lindberg (4-1-5 in seven games)

12. San Jose Sharks (4-2-0)

Last week: No. 3

What's good: Tomas Hertl looks comfortable playing center and being in Logan Couture's place on a line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward.

What's not so good: They're having trouble finding a left wing who fits well with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski on the top line.

Top rookie: LW Nikolay Goldobin (1-0-1 in three games)

Here's more on Hertl from the Over the Boards blog

13. Pittsburgh Penguins (3-3-0)

Last week: NR

What's good: Center Sidney Crosby broke out of his slump with three points Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers.

What's not so good: Beau Bennett is injured again.

Top rookie: RW Daniel Sprong (1-0-1 in five games)

14. Los Angeles Kings (2-3-0)

Last week: NR

What's good: Just like last season, the Kings are controlling the puck, as evidenced by a 62.11 SAT percentage that led the League entering Thursday.

What's not so good: Offense still an issue; the Kings have six goals through five games, including two in each of their two wins.

Top rookie: D Derek Forbort (0-0-0 in two games)

15. Florida Panthers (3-2-1)

Last week: NR

What's good: The line of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr have combined for seven goals and 15 points through six games.

What's not so good: They are getting outshot 75-48 in the second period, a reason why they have struggled to build on strong first periods.

Top rookie: F Connor Brickley (1-2-3 in five games)

Read what Brian Campbell has to say about the Panthers in Five Questions

16. Philadelphia Flyers (3-2-1)

Last week: NR

What's good: Claude Giroux broke out of his slump with two goals, including the overtime winner, on Wednesday.

What's not so good: The power play is 1-for-14 in regulation in the past four games.

Top rookie: None

From NHL.com's Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK), here is a good read on Flyers defenseman Evgeny Medvedev

Out: Detroit Red Wings, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks

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