The NHL released the names of the 2018 Calder Trophy nominees as the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser and the Arizona Coyotes’ Clayton Keller were named as the league’s top rookies. The award will be voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association with the winners to be announced on June 20 in Las Vegas.
In a year in which there were a large amount of talented rookies, several good players didn’t get nominated, including the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Yanni Gourde, Boston Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy, New Jersey Devils’ Nico Hischier, Chicago Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat and Winnipeg Jets’ Kyle Connor.
Barzal is the likely hands down winner after putting up a great rookie year with 22 goals and 83 points, centering the Islanders’ second line for most of the season. He was the only rookie to average more than a point per game (1.04) and had three five-point performances throughout the season. His emergence could lessen the blow if teammate John Tavares opts to leave via free agency as Barzal could easily take over as the team’s franchise player.
Boeser’s chances are slimmer after only playing in 62 games when he was lost for the season with a back injury. However, in that time, he put up 29 goals, 55 points and was named MVP of the 2018 All-Star Game. He should be a constant presence along with Bo Horvat with the young core of forwards that are coming in as the team’s rebuilding project begins to come to fruition.
Keller led all rookies in ice time (18:05) and put up 23 goals and 42 assists in his freshman campaign and also led the team in goals, assists and points. He provides the franchise with another core piece as the Coyotes begin to build their team back to contending status.
NBC Sports’ Sean Leahy was the first to report the news.