LA Kings: Gabe Vilardi is a good bet to win Calder Trophy next year

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Cale Makar won the Calder Trophy this year, but looking ahead to next season, Gabe Vilardi would be a prime candidate to win the award for the LA Kings.

The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly set to devise some kind of OTA/minicamp for the seven teams that did not make the playoff bubble, including the LA Kings, to prevent them from going nine months without any kind of organized activities. Until then, we get to enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals as bystanders and give our opinion on the year-end NHL Awards.

Also, the NHL Draft is officially two weeks away from today.

Regarding the NHL Awards, Cale Makar was honored with the Calder Trophy on Monday night. The Avalanche’s fourth overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft tallied 12 goals with 38 assists for 50 points in 57 games. He beat out who I believed to be the favorite, Quinn Hughes, who had a terrific season for the Canucks.

Either way, it’s a remarkable honor to take home, and looking ahead to next season, there’s reason to believe that the trophy could reside in LA. Gabriel Vilardi‘s preview in a ten-game sample size was nothing short of spectacular, one that saw him tally three goals with four assists for seven points.

He chipped in a power play goal and an assist in his brief time while averaging just 12:51 of on-ice time. Next year, Vilardi is expected to play at the 2C, and he’ll have his Ontario linemate in Martin Frk playing on his right wing with Adrian Kempe likely on his left.

Again, we are examining a small sample size here, but Vilardi’s average of 0.30 goals-per-game and 0.40 assists-per-game for 0.70 total points per are in line with the season statistics of Anders Lee, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Kuznetsov, to name a few.

History says that the Calder Trophy typically goes to a player on a pretty darn good team. At best, the Kings, minus something really crazy happening, project to be a playoff bubble team at best. And not the COVID-19 bubble, the traditional playoff format.

Matthew Barzal was the last player to win the award on a fairly pedestrian team in 2018 when the Islanders finished with 80 points and 7th in the Metropolitan Division. So, it’s certainly plausible for Vilardi to win on an average Kings’ squad.

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He’ll have some stiff competition next with Bowen Byram (COL), Trevor Zegras (ANA), Dylan Cozens (BUF), and Owen Tippett (FLA), all expected to transition into full-time roles. Regardless, it should mark for an exciting year for both the Kings and any casual hockey fan.

And it’s worth noting that Matt Roy received one fifth-place vote.