Over the next 10 days, the NHL will announce the finalists for the hardware to be given out at the NHL Awards on June 20. The league started this announcing blitz by releasing the three finalists for the Calder Trophy, which is given to the the game’s best rookie player and voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Your Calder Trophy nominees are:
Henrique, selected by the Devils in 2008, is technically in his second pro season, but didn’t play enough games to have last season qualify as a full rookie campaign. He stepped up to the Devils this year when Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson were injured and spent a lot of time as New Jersey’s top-line center, right between superstars Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Linemates like that surely serve as good mentors and Henrique made the best of the situation, playing 74 games, scoring 16 goals and adding 35 assists. Among all rookies, his 35 helpers are the best and his 51-point total is good for third.
Landeskog was picked second overall by the Avalanche in 2011 and deemed ready to roll in the NHL. So, he was slotted into the Avs’ lineup right away and did what he does best. He played all 82 games this season and scored 22 goals, plus 30 assists. His 52 points ties the lead among all first-years and those 22 goals are second-best for rookies. He also led his team with a +20 rating and spent a little under 19 minutes on the ice per game–the most of any first-year forward.
Nugent-Hopkins went first overall to the Oilers in 2011. Initially unsure of if he’d be in Edmonton for long, or sent back to his junior club in Red Deer, Nugent-Hopkins showed that he’d earned a place in the big times. He scored a goal in his very first pro game–and added a hat trick two games later. His season was shortened due to a shoulder injury, but in the 62 games he did play, he had 18 goals and 34 assists. He also joined Kovalchuk in the exclusive club of 18-year-olds to have a five-assist night when he helped out five times during a 9-2 November routing of the Chicago Blackhawks. Speaking of youth, he’s the youngest regular player in the NHL: he turned 19 on April 12.
Who do you think should win the Calder Trophy? Tell us in the comments. Also, stay tuned for more award finalist announcements–the Selke and Lady Byng announcements are coming up on April 23.