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Star News Services
Published: Saturday, October 21, 2006

Now that Evgeni Malkin is back and scoring goals, it's going to take a serious rookie campaign from another player to prevent the Pittsburgh Penguins centre from winning the Calder Trophy.

We present Matt Carle of the San Jose Sharks as one the best candidates to make it interesting. The 22-year-old defenceman is off to a super start, his eight points (2-6) in seven games led all NHL blue-liners heading into the weekend and was second only to Los Angeles centre Anze Kopitar (nine points) for the rookie scoring race.

"Malkin was given the award before the first exhibition game was even played -- at least in the East," Sharks coach Ron Wilson of Windsor mused Friday from his San Jose office.

Carle's hot start, which also includes a plus-five rating, is getting noticed by some.

"He's going at it better than a point a game and that always catches everybody's attention," said Wilson. "And being a young defenceman, if he can keep his plus-minus on the plus side of things then he'll be right up there. I think some of the recognition will come with how well our team does and he'll be a big part of it."

KARIYA'S CONTRIBUTION Paul Kariya showed NHL free agents there was more to Nashville than country music.

He made the move from Colorado to Music City after the lockout and turned this Tennessee city into a bit of a hockey town.

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