Nobody asked, but I am picking 25-year-old Matt Read of PHI to win this year's Calder Trophy as top rookie in the NHL.
That's Bob McKenzie of TSN, perhaps the most well-respected hockey pundit in North America, speaking Tuesday evening on Twitter. Matt Read could be rookie of the year. Will he be? Well, I'd bet a lot of money against it, let's put it that way.
But now, Read has no room for error. When he doesn't win the Calder Trophy, or even if he falters a little bit, the fan base is going to be all over him. "He was supposed to be rookie of the year! And he only scored 30 points!" I can hear WIP already. In fact, we all have heard this before. Pretty recently.
Ask James van Riemsdyk all about that. The former No. 2 overall pick was almost legitimately traded by this team based on not living up to his own lofty expectations, and that was as recently as last season. Until the 2011 playoffs, the chorus of people wanting JvR out of town was loud and proud.
And we're not even talking about a top draft pick in Matt Read. We're talking about somebody who went undrafted. Read, the kid who's never played more than 58 games in a season (and that was in the USHL). Read, the kid who's never endured a full professional season at any level, or even a single professional game. Read, the kid who has looked good in three weeks of preseason NHL action, and is now officially the most-hyped member of this Flyers team.
I don't say this because I hate Matt Read. I love the guy, actually, and I'm really excited to see what he can do as a Philadelphia Flyer, whether that be now or later. I'm hoping and praying like everybody else that he can become one of the steals of the century for Paul Holmgren and the team.
I'm just afraid of what's going to happen to him if he can't live up to expectations that are completely unfair. I've heard this town can be pretty rough when its sports fans are disappointed in you.