The NHL released the Calder Trophy finalists for the 2016-17 season, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The finalists for the NHL’s rookie of the year award are: Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, and Columbus Blue Jackets defensman Zach Werenski.
Most hockey minds agreed that the Calder race was between Laine and Matthews, with outside runs by Werenski, Toronto Maple Leafs forwards William Nylander and Mitch Marner, and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. It was a tough year to be a skilled rookie as many impressive performances were overshadowed by Laine’s and Matthews’ excellent season.
Matthews finished the season with 40G and 29A in 82 games, breaking the Maple Leafs record for most goals by a rookie. 32 of those goals came on 5-vs-5, usually centering a line with rookies Zach Hyman and Connor Brown. Matthews averaged .84 points per game
Finnish rookie Laine scored 36G and 28A in 73 games while suffering a concussion midway through the season, and 27 of those goals were even-strength. Laine finished with .88 points per game.
Rounding up the trio is Blue Jackets defenseman Werenski. The American-native scored 11G and 36A in 78 games for the Blue Jackets while averaging just under 21 minutes a night. Werenski manned the second-pairing for Columbus, and quarterbacked the first-line powerplay.
Any of the above three would be well-suited to win the award. Matthews lived up to the expectations of a first overall pick, Laine excited Winnipeg crowds with his laser shot, and Werenski provided maturity beyond his years as a rookie defenseman on the NHL’s most surprising team. Fans will find out who won on June 21, 2017 when the NHL hosts its annual award show in Las Vegas, Nevada.