The NHL Awards kicked off with the presentation of the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the first-year player judged to be the best of the rookie class. This year, the award went to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Makar beat out fellow defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik.
While Kubalik was indeed a finalist for the Calder, this was a two-horse race between Makar and Hughes as expected. The PHWA voting revealed that only the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox received a first-place vote besides Makar and Hughes (and he received only one) while just five second-place votes were cast outside of the duo. At the end of the day, Makar did not receive any votes that were not first- or second-place and earned more than double the number of first-place votes as his Canucks counterpart. That was more than enough for the Colorado wunderkind to take home the Calder.
Makar, 21, has received a major hockey award for the second year in a row after he was named the Hobey Baker Award winner last year as the best player in NCAA college hockey. Just as Makar took the University of Massachusetts to the NCAA Championship game last year, he helped the Avalanche to a top-five record in the regular season and to the semifinals in the Western Conference. A dynamic puck-moving defenseman who recorded 50 points in 57 games as a first-year pro, all while logging big minutes for a rookie, Makar has the makings of a superstar in the NHL and could be back in awards contention sooner rather than later as a Norris Trophy candidate.