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Calen Addison is putting himself in Calder conversation

The young Wild blueliner got a head start.

NHL: OCT 17 Avalanche at Wild Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are just over two weeks into the NHL’s regular season and while we can’t make a whole lot of what overall team performance means for all 32 teams, we can pick and choose what some individual players are doing in their respective seasons so far and make some not-so-bold claims.

The most obvious and immediate statement we can make is that Calen Addison is a very good player for our Minnesota Wild and should be in the conversation to win the Calder Trophy at the end of the season for being the top rookie.

Heading into the season, a good portion of the spotlight was on Addison after making the Wild’s lineup as a regular and not just a brief cameo because someone else was hurt. Here he was, a 22-year-old blueliner with all the pressure piling on him to be something more than a prospect with potential, but a full-blooded Wild defenseman that can provide enough on both ends to make this team better.

And the path was cleared for him. General manager Bill Guerin traded away Dmitry Kulikov for literally nothing, to make sure that there was no one potentially blocking Addison’s path to making this team. That only added more pressure for the young blueliner to carve out his own path and be potentially a stable player in St. Paul for years to come.

But we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves here, and we all know what’s coming. Addison has done exactly that and even more, if you can imagine.

To make it just so clear to everyone reading this, even if you’re just skimming through looking for the easy stuff to digest, we will put all of the statistical evidence (as of Monday afternoon) that Addison should be considered as the top rookie so far in this season, in point form.

  • Addison leads all rookie defenseman in scoring with seven points, three points higher than the next-best blueliner.
  • Among all NHL defensemen, Addison is tied for 10th in scoring, with names like Dougie Hamilton, Morgan Rielly, and Shea Theodore. That is the crop of talent that the rookie currently resides around.
  • Even among all rookie skaters, not just defensemen, Addison is tied for second and just one point below the leader, Matty Beniers.
  • Addison is tied for first among all defensemen in primary assists, with five. The player that he is currently tied with? Cale Makar.
  • And it’s not like he’s piling up these points because he is getting a boatload of minutes, either. Addison is seventh among all defensemen in points per 60 minutes (2.54).
  • With all this scoring, the normal play isn’t a deficit to his game, either. Addison has kept on trucking, being an overall benefit for the Wild when he is on the ice at 5-on-5, having an on-ice shot attempt percentage of 52.61, and an on-ice expected goals percentage of 50.04. Not the most eye-popping numbers, but his points are not empty, hollow scoring totals.
  • All of this is to say: He’s damn good.

Above all, we think he’s one of the primary reasons why the Wild’s powerplay functions as it does right now. The Minnesota Wild have the second-highest shot attempt rate and seventh-highest expected goals for rate, on the powerplay this season. Last year, they finished just average and way below-average respectively, in these two categories. Addison’s addition to the top unit has made the four forwards that play in front of him not have the burden of creating all the offense off of their sticks.

Plus, he can unleash some absolute bombs from the point.

It’s this deceptive work to Addison’s playmaking that makes him such a dangerous threat on the man advantage. In a whole lot of the goals scored on the powerplay this year, if Addison makes one of the passes, his body and head are turned one way, as he makes a blind pass to the target, who has an easy shot or pass to create a goal.

It is bonkers how cool that is. If I haven’t convinced you enough that Addison is at least the top rookie defenseman right now, then I don’t even know what to make of it.

All of this and Addison hasn’t even really been attempting to shoot the puck yet. He clearly has a rocket of a shot, but he has been selective so far in the nine games that he’s played. Maybe it’s just because he has more trust in the forwards that he’s playing with — his top-three forwards in shared ice-time are Matt Boldy, Kirill Kaprizov, and Mats Zuccarello, after all — but Addison has just nine shots on goal this season and has attempted just 28 (ninth among all Wild skaters), with 13 of those not being blocked by opposing defenders (12th on the team).

The individual scoring has not come yet, but Addison is doing beyond what we could have imagined in terms of playmaking and not being a defensively deficient rookie. And those goals will come eventually. We have seen enough of his shooting so far that when he chooses to unleash hell, he does it with enough direct power to break a few bones on its way to the net. It’s just about getting comfortable enough to continue getting after it, but it also doesn’t help having some of the most potent offensive contributors with him on the powerplay. You win some, you lose some.

Addison has all the makings of a player that will be on the Wild blue line for hopefully many more seasons, but getting a nice little individual trophy to start his full-time career would be a nice prize. He should already be considered a frontrunner to nab it.