For the first time we have a race that I do not think is straight forward or has one clear-cut favorite. The Anaheim Ducks have received a surprising amount of contribution from their new players this season, whether they were an acquisition or a rookie clawing their way up to the big club.
Each player on this list has excelled in his role spectacularly, and the competition to even receive one of the five final nomination spots was a tough one, making this a pretty tough choice for who will be the actual winner.
For today's awards, all nominees were either a new player on the roster this season, or were a rookie having played no more than 20 games before this season.
And the nominees are:
Acquired mere days before the start of the regular season, this move had GM Bob Murray looking like the king of all shrewd deals.
Perreault had previous experience playing with coach Bruce Boudreau with the Washington Capitals, and the two reconnected excellently in Anaheim.
Perreault endeared himself to the Anaheim fans quickly by scoring the game winner in overtime in just his second game with Anaheim.
From there, Perreault has gone on to be a source of depth scoring that has been an unquestioned bright spot for Anaheim.
Currently sitting on 18 goals and 41 points, Perreault is fifth on the team in scoring, and likewise has earned time on the power play thanks to his offensive prowess and willingness to get to the dirty areas in front of the net.
It also doesn't hurt that he currently leads the Ducks in the faceoff circle at 52.8%. That alone is a pretty big bright spot for a team that sits in the bottom half of the league on the dots.
Depth scoring, utility, and useful skills? What more could you want out of a forward picked up for a fourth-round pick?
The big rookie Patrick Maroon has had a wildly successful season for his gritty play style that often finds him digging pucks out of dirty areas, and forcing turnovers from other teams who just can't seem to get away from him.
The big guy is fifth on the team with 116 hits, but has been anything but your typical energy guy.
Maroon's big body and soft hands have seen him play considerable minutes on the top line alongside Getzlaf and Perry, due in large part to his ability to cycle the puck and play a good possession game. He gets on top of loose pucks quickly and uses his massive frame to win battles for them, turning the puck back to his linemates who lead the team in offense.
He's also become a quick fan favorite thanks to his willingness to drop the gloves and duke it out with the other team's goons, providing at times much needed energy to the team.
But his offense has not suffered. So far, Maroon has logged 26 points and is a +8 on the year. In fact his offensive upside can be argued as the reason Emerson Etem has spent most of the year with Norfolk in the AHL, and the reason Dustin Penner was traded away, as they are comparable players. Maroon faced a lineup battle with both of these players, and he won it.
Sami Vatanen has been a little fiery wrecking ball on defense for the Ducks ever since he made his debut last season. This season, he's had to deal with injuries and the many rotations of a roster packed with NHL caliber defensemen, but he's found his way and made the most of what few chances he's got.
In fact, despite playing only 47 games for the Ducks thus far, Vatanen has scored six goals, tying him for the team lead amongst defensemen.
His speed and willingness to play a gritty physical game in his own end have even made a nice foil to Bryan Allen, whose sluggish skating often finds him caught out on quick rushes. Vatanen's quickness in getting back and smart defensive awareness can often break up a play that would otherwise be extremely dangerous.
Vatanen also earned himself a high honor when he was chosen to represent his home country of Finland at the Sochi Olympics, where he lived the dream of setting up a goal by his career idol and teammate Teemu Selanne, and won a bronze medal alongside him.
The embarrassing amount of depth at the goaltending position for the Anaheim Ducks was well-known at the outset of the season, but it was shoved squarely into the limelight when Viktor Fasth went down with an injury, giving Frederik Andersen a chance to come up and play for the big club.
Andersen was a 3rd round draft choice of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2012 entry draft, and played his first professional North American season in Norfolk with the Admirals, where he made an impression by often times being the only reason the Ads were even competitive.
There was optimism. Then Andersen got his shot.
Making his debut in relief of Jonas Hiller on October 24th, Andersen went a perfect 24-for-24 to backstop the Ducks to a come-from-behind win over the Dallas Stars at Honda Center.
That win would be his first of six straight to start his career, and likewise the first of 19 so far on the season.
Andersen leads all rookie goaltenders in that department and likewise also leads with a 2.27 goals against average and a .924 save-percentage. In fact, his play has been so clutch and so stellar at times, it even has people believing he should be the goaltender given the net for the playoffs, his health permitting.
What can I say about Hampus Lindholm that hasn't already been said before?
At the outset of this season, it would have been shocking if he played more than a small handful of games with Anaheim, and he was expected to improve his game at the AHL level.
Then injuries happened and Hampus seized the opportunity to make his presence known, and has since absolutely refused to give up his spot on the team.
Now 75 games into his NHL career, Lindholm leads all NHL rookies with a +27 rating, and sits behind only the twins for the lead on the team. His six goals is likewise tied for the team lead amongst defensemen, and sits at a 51.2 Corsi-percentage.
Lindholm has also played his way into the Ducks special teams, often times quarterbacking the second unit or even lately finding himself on the first unit alongside Ryan Getzlaf on the point.
Oh, and before we forget... who else could possibly have quipped that they needed to keep an eye on Dustin Penner over the Olympic break? If you weren't totally crazy over Lindholm before, how could you not be after that. The kid has swagger, jokes, and class? Someone lower this guy's jersey number already. He's not going anywhere.