With the NHL Awards just over a month away, the talk of who will win the Calder Trophy is present amongst hockey fans. The finalists for the trophy were no surprise this year, especially with rookies like Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Zach Werenski shining the moment they stepped out for their first NHL game. But with such skill amongst the three finalists, who will be the winner?
It didn’t take long for Auston Matthews to break his first rookie record, in fact, it took less than 15 minutes. The rookie became the first player to be drafted first overall to score two goals in the first period of his NHL debut. And it didn’t stop there, by the end of the game Matthews had become the only player to score four goals in his first game in the league’s 100-year history. Matthews finished the season with 40 goals and 69 points, breaking the record for most goals scored by a Toronto Maple Leafs rookie since Wendall Clark.
Then you have Patrik Laine, picked second overall after Auston Matthews by the Winnipeg Jets. He led rookies this year with the top shooting percentage (17.6%) and had the most power play goals. He also became the first player in NHL history to score three hat-tricks before his 19th birthday and the first rookie to get three hat-tricks in one season. He is a power forward who knows how to bury the puck.
Zach Werenski makes the finalists list by leading rookie defencemen in goals, assists and points this year. He finished the season with the highest plus/minus (+17) out of all rookies, not to mention breaking franchise records with the most assists and points as a rookie in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ history. Although not a stat, Werenski blocked a shot in the face during the Stanley Cup Playoffs vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, left to get stitches then returned to the game to finish the third period. If that doesn’t show dedication right there.
Now there’s no question that these three finalists have earned their nominations for the Calder Trophy. With all three breaking league and franchise records, it’ll be a tough decision to crown a winner. Although, it won’t be surprising if the Scottsdale, Arizona native and Toronto’s pride and joy lifts the trophy at the NHL Awards next month.