After Moritz Seider buried the winning goal against Carolina Thursday night, the Calder conversation became more one-sided.
While Trevor Zegras, Michael Bunting, and even teammate Lucas Raymond have had impressive seasons, not one of the three compare to the workload or responsibility that has been asked of Seider all season long.
The numbers are obviously important. Even there, Seider checks the boxes.
Simply put, the Calder Trophy for the league’s best rookie should be Seider’s.
The Defenseman Detroit’s Needed for a Decade
It’s not to besmirch some of the defenseman who came after Nicklas Lidstrom. But not one could compare–and it’s unfair to even try. Niklas Kronwall was very good for Detroit and Mike Green certainly held his own.
But none could be reasonably asked to do what Lidstrom did.
General Manager Steve Yzerman called Lidstrom a teammate for 16 seasons and saw the importance of a strong blue line. He built around Victor Hedman, who was already in Tampa when Yzerman arrived as the GM. So his first action running Detroit shouldn’t have been shocking at all.
Except that it was.
If Seider’s career continues on the upward trajectory it appears to be heading, the videos and social media posts of bewildered fans during that draft will remain fodder for years to come.
Not one Detroit fan is questioning the pick now.
Moritz Seider Has Been the Anchor on the Blue Line
There was an effort by both Yzerman and head coach Jeff Blashill to temper expectations as Seider’s time in Detroit dawned. His success at every level along with improving play had the fanbase buzzing with anticipation.
He hasn’t disappointed. In 74 games, Seider has 47 points, with six being goals. He ranks fourth in points among rookies, and the closest rookie defenseman is Jamie Drysdale (31 points).
To compare notes, Cale Makar had 50 points (12-38) for Colorado during the 2019-20 season. Guess who won the Calder? Like Seider, Makar was thrust into a top 2 role, and skated away not only with a stellar season, but with the league’s award for the best rookie. Second in voting that season was defenseman Quinn Hughes, who posted 53 points (8-45).
Rookie watch… 👀
Who do you think will take home the Calder Trophy this year? 🏆
— NHL (@NHL) March 14, 2022
While the offensive output for both were higher (as of now) with less games played than Seider, there’s a caveat. Both played on playoff teams that season, which in theory, should insulate and help a rookie even more.
Seider hasn’t enjoyed such a luxury. He has been one of the strongest players on a team that has been eliminated from the playoff race for several weeks now. In spite of a weaker roster, Seider hasn’t missed a beat. Regardless of who he’s paired with, he’s been an anchor on the blue line.
“The reality is Seids doesn’t need much help,” Blashill said. “He’s done a real good job with his game and he’s had a big impact on a night to night basis. The stuff that he needs to continue to get better at, we’ve done through coaching. And I also think that the players that he’s played with have helped him with that.”
Teammate Alex Nedeljkovic sees Seider only getting better.
“He’s better today than he was yesterday,” Nedeljkovic said. “That’s something special in a young kid to be able to do that at a high level in this league. He’s got a bright future. Hopefully I can play a lot of games behind him the rest of the way.”
Calder Voters Know The Right Choice
Zegras has scored highlight goals. Bunting’s numbers have been impressive. Raymond has been another critical piece for Detroit. But when it boils right down to it, the Red Wings are an entirely different team without Moritz Seider in it. One that is probably in top two position for the lottery without the German-born defenseman.
Sure, there can continue to be a conversation. But the outcome of this discussion certainly seems like a foregone conclusion.