Toronto Maple Leafs: Can Andreas Johnsson win the Calder Trophy?

The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the best rookie each season, and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Andreas Johnsson could be in the conversation in 2018-19.

Andreas Johnsson is eligible to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as he has made just nine NHL appearances in his career so far, all coming last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Technically, Johnsson is entering his ‘rookie’ season with the team in 2018-19 and could be poised to be a dark horse in the race for the Calder.

With the addition of John Tavares, the Leafs’ offence is set to be dominant this coming season and be the heavy focus moving forward.

Johnsson is projected to play on the third line for Mike Babcock, lining up alongside Nazem Kadri and potentially Kasperi Kapanen or Connor Brown.

Kadri has 64 goals and 116 total points over the past two seasons and is arguably the best third line centre in the league, having played regularly on the second and first line throughout his NHL career.

Playing alongside a centre who is capable of putting up such high numbers is sure to work in Johnsson’s favour, improving the 0.33 points per game average he had in his nine regular season games and six playoff games with the team last season.

Johnsson has already shown he is capable of making shots, having 27 total attempts in the regular season, 19 of which were registered shots on goal.

He also had good possession stats, with a 57.6% Corsi For rating – a huge positive considering his time was mostly spent on the fourth line.

If Johnsson is able to take the next step and carry his ability to generate points — which he did regularly in the AHL — into this coming season, then he could be looking at a rookie season worth noting.

Johnsson is going to be up against some extremely talented rookies in the form of this year’s first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Casey Mittelstadt and Elias Pettersson.

However, if the 23-year-old Johnsson is able to have a big impact on a team that could arguably look to contend for the Stanley Cup, he is deserving of consideration.

Some might argue that Johnsson is too old to be considered, but stranger things have happened over the years.

Artemi Panarin, for example, won the Calder for his stellar 2015-16 rookie campaign at the age of 24 – beating out Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

And, at 23 years old, Johnsson wouldn’t even be the oldest Toronto Maple Leafs player to win the award, with Kent Douglas winning it in 1963 at the age of 26.

In second place is Frank McCool, who won the award as a Maple Leaf in 1945 as a 25-year-old.

There will be a lot of strong talent vying for the Calder in 2018-19, but Johnsson could be in the best position to succeed out of all rookies in the NHL.

He will be partnered with a back-to-back 30+ goalscorer in Kadri and the Leafs’ gung-ho approach to the offence next season could see him play a key role, despite only seeing third-line minutes.

What do you think of Andreas Johnsson’s chances of being considered for the Calder Memorial Trophy this coming season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!