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s25 - For your Consideration [WB11]

To win a Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s most outstanding rookie is tough.  To win it as a defenceman is next to impossible.  Through 24 seasons of the VHL handing out the annual award, only twice has a defender won the prestigious award.  
The first coming way back in the 1993-94 when a fresh-faced yet still imposing Chris Pronger took home the award in his first season with the San Jose Sharks.  During that campaign the youngster scored seven times and finished the year with 52 points through 72 games.  Not too long after, in the 1997-98 season to be exact, Philadelphia Flyers freshman Nolan Pratt took home the honor.  Similar to Pronger before him, Pratt finished with 53 points - 13 of which were goals, a better +/- rating (+14 compared to Pronger’s +1) while playing two fewer games.  Then… nothing.
Over the next 16 seasons, save for the 2004-05 and 2007-08 when goaltenders Ray Emery and Carey Price each won in those respective years, every other season a forward has taken home the prize.  This season is likely going to be no different as both Mikael Granlund (VGK) and Boone Jenner (VAN) are having “Calder-worthy” seasons with the former sitting atop the rookie scoring race with 36 points and the latter a point behind.  
But there’s a couple of potential outliers lurking and that’s none other than Phoenix Coyotes defenders Justin Faulk and Adam Larsson.  With 28 points and sitting fifth in freshman scoring, it’s Faulk’s impressive plus-17 rating that jumps off the page and in this publication’s opinion should be considered for the award.  Some might say that playing on a President’s Trophy winning roster is the buffer that has allowed for such a strong season, and that might be true. But it’s also a good enough reason to think that there’s more risk involved for a team with such high aspirations to take a chance on allowing not one, but two rookies to grace the pages of their pro roster with so much at stake.
In this case, the 23-year-olds came into this season with the organization having very little expectations of them.  Faulk was coming off an impressive season a year ago with the Scottsdale Hatters and came into this season expected to play on the Coyotes’ third pairing with Larsson.  Over the course of the season, Faulk has found himself on the top unit with Erik Gudbransson while Larsson plays on the 2nd with veteran Ryan Suter.  Where Faulk has been the more offensive contributor - tied with Suter for most goals by defenders with six - it’s Larsson’s stay-at-home presence that may hold the key to him potentially winning the award.
See it’s one thing to be on a list of your peers in the case of Faulk and the rookie scoring race.  For Larsson, the list he’s on he sits alone… at the top… of the entire league!  With only a few days to go in the regular season Adam Larsson - a rookie - leads the entire league in +/- with an impressive +30 rating.  
When it comes to awards voting it’s not a fine science.  Some might say it’s downright flawed.  For the most part the right player takes home the award.  Here’s to hoping both Justin Faulk or Adam Larsson get the recognition they both deserve.