Should Stuart Skinner be the Calder trophy favourite?
It’s a well-known fact that the Oilers would not be in their position this season without the stellar play of rookie goaltender Stuart Skinner, landing him in the mix for the Calder trophy amongst the likes of Matty Beniers, Matias Maccelli, and Owen Power. Despite the star power up for the award, I believe Skinner is the most deserving and here’s why:
1. All-Star as a rookie7
Skinner, alongside Vegas’ Logan Thompson, were the two “new kids on the block” at this year’s NHL all-star festivities earning a spot alongside some of the top goalies in the league. Despite the Pacific losing their first and only game of the festivities, Skinner entered into the conversation of the top goaltenders in the NHL.
2. The projected backup
Many people forget to factor in that Skinner was the Oilers projected backup goalie heading into the year with the signing of free agent Jack Campbell. After Campbell’s struggles, Skinner took the Oilers starting job and never looked back, starting 49 of the Oilers 81 games to this point. To say anyone expected to see Skinner leading the Oilers in a push for the Pacific division and maybe even the western conference title would be lying.
3. The best Oilers rookie season since Fuhr
As a 19-year-old rookie, Oilers legend Grant Fuhr went 28-5-14 with a .898 save percentage and no shutouts. Widely regarded as the best goalie in Oilers history, Fuhr had an outstanding rookie season coming 3rd in Calder voting and second in Vezina voting in his rookie year. With one game to go this season, Skinner has gone 28-14-5 with a .914 save percentage including a shutout. Skinner’s 28 wins have tied Fuhr’s rookie wins record with 28 and he has a chance to beat said record on Thursday against San Jose if given the start.
4. Scoring is trending back upwards
Since 2020 scoring has been on the rise, reaching 3.18 goals per game which is the highest since 1993-94. To have a rookie goaltender in the top 10 in wins is extraordinary with the high level of scoring we have seen this year. Of the goaltenders in the NHL with over 40 games played Skinner has the 10th-best save percentage, just ahead of New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
While the likes of Beniers, Power, and Maccelli have had some top-notch rookie campaigns, to me none compare to the outbreak season Stuart Skinner has had for Edmonton. Entering his rookie season in a year with the most scoring we have seen since the 90s, making the NHL all-star game and leading his club into a push for the conference is all the proof I need to say that Skinner deserves to win the Calder trophy.