Thursday, December 21, 2023

A modern history of the NHL’s sophomore of the year award, which does not exist

It doesn’t seem like we’re going to get much of a Calder race this year. Barring an injury or something very unexpected, the trophy for Rookie of the Year is going to go first overall pick Connor Bedard. He’s a huge favorite at all the sportsbooks, and our own writers had him as a unanimous pick in our most recent prediction panel. Do you know how much of a favorite you have to be for not even one writer to play the contrarian card? A big one. The race is all but over.

But forget the Calder. What about the Carson, the trophy awarded to the best second-year player in the NHL? It’s named after Jimmy Carson, who put up 55 goals and 107 points as a 19-year-old sophomore back in 1987-88, and it’s possible you’ve never heard of it before because I just made it up.

But it would be a cool award, right? And if it existed, we’d be watching a solid race play out. A so-so start by Matty Beniers would have opened the door to names like Wyatt Johnston, Kirill Marchenko and Andrei Kuzmenko up front, plus Jake Sanderson and Owen Power as blueline candidates. We could argue about that race all day, and arguing all day is lots of fun, according to the people who comment on my articles.

So today, let’s go back through the cap era and hand out the Carson Trophy to the best sophomore player, which is to say the best guy who’s one year removed from his final Calder-eligible season. Make some room in those trophy cases, gentlemen, there’s a new award in town.

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