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Calder Trophy Debate: Cale Makar vs. Quinn Hughes



Cale Makar

I was listening to the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast yesterday, and the subject of who should win the NHL’s Calder Trophy came up, and whether it should go to the Avalanche’s Cale Makar or Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes. I often agree with the opinions of one of the show’s hosts, the Rear Admiral, but not this time when he said “you gotta lean toward Hughes” and none of his other co-hosts seemed to disagree.

No way, guys. Cale Makar should – and I believe, will – win the Calder and here’s why I think he should:

  • It was pointed out that Hughes had more points than Makar in the regular season (53 to 50) as a rookie defenseman, and that was kind of a big factor in his favor to win the Calder.
  • Um, yeah, that’s true. It’s also true that Hughes played 11 more games than Makar. Makar averaged 0.86 points per game. Hughes averaged 0.77 points per game. Advantage, Makar.
  • Of Makar’s 50 points, 12 were goals. Only eight of Hughes’ 53 points were goals. Scoring a goal is a harder thing to accomplish than getting an assist. Advantage, Makar.
  • There was no great disparity in ice time per game, as some Hughes advocates would have you believe. Makar averaged 21:01 per game, Hughes 21:53. A wash.
  • Although plus-minus can be a deceiving stat, the fact is Hughes was a minus-10 for the Canucks. Makar was a plus-12. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar averaged more shots per game than Hughes – 2.1 to 1.9. Makar’s shooting percentage was 9.9%, Hughes’ was 6.3. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar had four game-winning goals, Hughes had two, despite playing 11 more games. Advantage, Makar.
  • Makar had a 52.8 Corsi at even strength, Hughes was at 52.7. Not a big advantage, but Advantage Makar nonetheless.
  • Hughes had a PDO of 97.7, Makar finished at 101.7. Generally, the higher a player’s PDO, the more “puck luck” they had, but in this case, it’s pretty much a wash. Hughes had defensive zone starts 41.6 percent of the time, Makar 37.7. That’s a slight advantage to Hughes, but not too much to say “AHA – there’s your big advantage Hughes!”
  • The fact is, Makar put up better numbers, percentage-wise, than Hughes in just about all meaningful categories. The only thing Hughes did was play more games. It goes without saying that Quinn Hughes is a terrific young player and will be for a long time to come.
  • But Cale Makar was/is better and deserves the Calder Trophy.

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