2021-22 Calder Trophy Tracker – December Update

The 2021-22 NHL season is in full swing and several rookies have already jumped out as Calder Trophy contenders. To keep you up to date, we at The Hockey Writers have created the Calder Trophy Tracker, a veritable who’s who of the NHL’s top rookies this season. This will be updated and published monthly and will act as a set of power rankings for the award.

Last season, Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Jason Robertson were named the finalists for the award with Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild ultimately winning it. 2021-22 was supposed to be the year of Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens. Instead, it has been Lucas Raymond’s time to shine. He has been everything and more for the Detroit Red Wings and is an early frontrunner for the award.

Since our last update, Raymond hasn’t slowed down and currently leads all rookies in scoring. Other players have also stepped up and entered the ring as possible contenders. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the big five as we enter the month of December.

5. Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils)

Since our last update on Nov. 7, Dawson Mercer has put up three goals and nine points in 12 games and currently sits fifth in rookie scoring. He continues to impress with his all-around game and has become a bit of a fan favorite in New Jersey. With Jack Hughes out early in the season, he stepped up to become one of their most important players.

Mercer has scored in half of the games he has appeared in this season, and is hard to ignore when he is on the ice — and it is not because of his hair. He is responsible with the puck in both the offensive and defensive zone. Over time the coaching staff has given him opportunities on the power play and penalty kill.

Kristy Flannery, The Hockey Writers

Playing on a line with Andreas Johnsson and Jesper Bratt, Mercer has quickly established himself as a serious NHLer with a bright future. He plays the game hard and as Kristy said, is noticeable almost every time he’s on the ice. At only 20 years old, he has become a huge part of the burgeoning core that now includes Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes and Alexander Holtz.

Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils
Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Mercer was a highly-touted prospect leading up to the draft because of his unique package of skill and intangibles. His two-way game is solid, he drives play with his relentless forechecking and he’s a great personality on and off the ice. So it’s really no surprise that he has continued to see success early on in his NHL career.

4. Michael Bunting (Toronto Maple Leafs)

After a relatively slow start to the month, Michael Bunting has put on the afterburners and is now a major contender for the Calder Trophy. With nine points in his last six games, including his first three-assist game against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 1, he has been lights out for the Toronto Maple Leafs lately. Yes, he’s playing with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or William Nylander most of the time, but that shouldn’t discount what he has done so far.

Like Zach Hyman before him, Bunting is doing the grunt work in the corners for the superstars on the Maple Leafs. He’s a great forechecker with a penchant for drawing penalties and has skill to finish plays as well. He’s basically the perfect complement to the star power of Matthews, Marner and Nylander.

I hang out with both those guys pretty often off the ice. So, to play with them on the ice, it’s a lot of fun. I just try to get open, try to retrieve pucks and let them play with their magic. And right now, we’re rolling.

Michael Bunting on playing with Matthews, Marner and Nylander

Bunting might still be a long shot to win the Calder, but with him playing in Toronto (aka the media capital of Canada), there is always a chance he gets enough votes to eclipse Raymond. Who knows, he could even catch him in points before too long. He is only three points away after all.

3. Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings)

All Moritz Seider has done since getting drafted is make Red Wings’ general manager Steve Yzerman look like a genius. Surprisingly selected sixth overall in a class that included highly touted prospects like Philip Broberg, Victor Soderstrom, and Cam York, Stevie Y decided to swing for the fences and pick a guy from Germany that was ranked by many to go in the second round.


Turns out Yzerman knew what he was doing because Seider is now the best defenceman the Red Wings have on their roster. He has already broken the record for most points by a rookie defenceman in his first 10 games and is currently tied for third in rookie scoring. He is also trusted by his head coach Jeff Blashill as he is second only to Filip Hronek in average ice time with 22:32 per game.

Two out of Seider’s three goals are overtime winners and he’s started to develop a bit of a swagger as the Red Wings surprisingly keep climbing the standings. Why not? Success has followed the Winged Wheel because of the production and contribution from the two-headed Swedish monster of Seider and Raymond. So, he deserves to walk around with a jump in his step.

He’s a really talented player…Poise, swagger, those things are important on any kind of player that aspires to be an elite player. You have to have swagger and he’s got it.

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings head coach (from ‘Rookie Moritz Seider, Red Wings developing swagger as wins pile up’, The Detroit News, 12/5/21)

Seider has all the tools of an elite top-pairing blueliner. Surprisingly only 20 years old, the future could be filled with not only a Calder Trophy but a few Norris Trophies as well.

2. Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks)

The Anaheim Ducks have been a revelation this season after toiling at the bottom of the standings for the past few years. Keying the success has been two young players by the names of Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras. In the first edition of this tracker, I called Zegras a disappointment because he wasn’t putting up a lot of points. I guess he heard me because since then he has four goals and 16 points in 11 games and has rocketed past several rookies to become the second-most productive behind only Raymond. In fact, thanks to his offensive surge, he is now tied with him in points.

Trevor Zegras Anaheim Ducks
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playing primarily on a line with Rickard Rakell and Sonny Milano, Zegras has returned to the dominant form everyone saw last season. His playmaking has shone through to the tune of 15 assists in 24 games and he’s not even playing with Terry, who currently leads the team with 15 goals. He may have been at the back of the pack when this tracker first came out, but thanks to his strong month of November, he is on the cusp of overtaking Raymond. If he keeps this type of production up, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in first when these rankings come out in January.

1. Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings)

Currently leading all rookies in goals, Lucas Raymond has been everything and more for the Detroit Red Wings so far this season. He already has his first NHL hat trick under his belt and his first four-point night after scoring three against the Chicago Blackhawks and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury.


To say Raymond has been a surprising addition to the Calder Trophy proceedings would be a massive understatement. Coming into the 2021-22 season, it wasn’t even a sure thing that he was going to make the Red Wings roster let alone play consistently on the first line and first-unit power play. He is now their best player and one of the reasons why the Wings are in a playoff spot right now and will probably win the Calder Trophy at the end of the season.

Rookies on the Cusp

  • Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks)
  • Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers)
  • Tanner Jeannot (Nashville Predators)
  • Jonathan Dahlen (San Jose Sharks)
  • Rem Pitlick (Minnesota Wild)
  • Seth Jarvis (Carolina Hurricanes)

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That does it for the first edition of the 2021-22 Calder Trophy Tracker. Who will be at the top in January? Will Raymond hold onto the lead for a third straight month or will Zegras or Seider end up overtaking him? Stay tuned for the next update to find out, and as always, if you disagree with who’s on the list, let us know in the comments below!

All stats were from Dobber’s Frozen Tools and NHL.com and are current as of Dec. 8, 2021