(Blogger's note, updated Sept. 15th because I left out some Calder Rivals)
I know, we've got Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin hitting the NHL plus Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Jordan Eberle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, John Carlson and Jamie McBain but I would argue that one Pernell Karl Subban is in better shape to do it than most.
Looking at Subban's status, he works from several notable advantages.
Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and their fellow rookie forwards all considered in the potential Calder race are all coming out of junior and are under 20 for the most part. They are still lacking a certain level of physical conditioning that the pros have and are growing into their bodies. P.K. Subban is 21 and for two seasons now, has been conditioning himself for the pro level, first for the AHL last season and now for the NHL. More than a few NHL rookies have 'hit the wall' coming out of juniors and playing against men. Paajarvi-Svensson and Ekman-Larsson and a few others having been playing in the Swedish Elite League or the KHL with older players, but still younger than Subban and they will also be facing the challenge #2 overall pick from 2009 Victor Hedman had last season, adapting to the North American ice surface, smaller than the International ice they are accustomed to and at the NHL level no less. Subban played a total of 84 games in the AHL last season and 16 in the NHL last season, it is not unreasonable to argue he is much more prepared for the grind of the NHL season than most of his younger competition. Carlson and McBain are likely his stiffest rivals at defence, but with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green securely sewing up the 1st PP unit, it will be harder for John Carlson to post points and Jamie McBain in Carolina works from the disadvantage of playing in Carolina, a team that hasn't done much to improve over last season's team.
Subban has professional experience and he excelled at the professional level. He played in the AHL with the Canadien's farm team the Hamilton Bulldogs last season, helped his team win a round in the AHL playoffs and competed in the NHL playoffs last season and aquitted himself very well in both. A First Team AHL All-Star and he set a new team offensive record for scoring in Hamilton with 18 goals, 35 assists in 77 games along with a ridiculous +46 differential, he was 4th overall in the AHL rookie scoring race and 3rd overall in the AHL for scoring by a defencemen. He would then score 3 goals and 6 assists in 6 AHL playoff games to help win the first round of the AHL playoffs for his team against the Manitoba Moose. When later interviewed about the series Mike Keane former NHLer and Hab, captain of the Manitoba Moose credited Subban with being the impact player of the series and the reason the Bulldogs won. Subban's recall to the Habs was noteworthy as well, he scored a goal and eight assists in 14 games in the NHL playoffs. Not many defencemen can say they had 9 points in their first 14 playoff games, including the last 5 winners of the Norris Trophy. He is used to competing against men and taking the punishment at that level.
Subban has a great structure of mentors among the Habs defensive corps. Andrei Markov is a Top-10 NHL defencemen and has a similar style to P.K. Subban as a skating defencemen and can teach him many invaluable lessons in all situations, including the pair's bread and butter, the power play. Hal Gill is a solid veteran who is always good for moral support, Josh Gorges is an undrafted man who never relents on being better than he was yesterday and Roman Hamrlik has been credited with being the mentor to a few young defenders in his time as well. Jaroslav Spacek is a man who keeps coming back for more, banged up more than once this season but kept taking it and in the first half of the season took way more than he should have had to keeping the defence alive with Hamrlik while Markov recovered not to mention, he gives props to the flag kids.
He's also a well-noted team player who fits into the Habs atmosphere, a professional, confident player who is likeable, charismatic and is team-first with a strong will to win. A lot of these teams are bringing in the new kid and no one knows how it'll go in a lot of cases. He's already shown an ability to work with the Habs roster in the playoffs and has good relationships with his teammates it would seem.
The Calder is in his reach, he's got advantages over most of the competition.