This week, the NHL is revealing the finalists for its end-of-season awards. On Wednesday, the Calder Trophy was front and center. The league revealed that the finalists for its top rookie are Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner, Sabres defenseman Owen Power, and Kraken center Matthew Beniers. The award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Skinner came into this season as the presumptive backup behind Jack Campbell, Edmonton’s big summer signing to help shore up their goaltending. However, it didn’t take long for him to start pushing for playing time, eventually taking over as the starter. That helped him earn an All-Star nod midseason. Skinner led all rookie netminders in victories with 29 and games played with 50 while ranking second among qualifying rookies (who had at least 25 GP) with a 2.75 and a .914 SV%. While his playoff performance doesn’t count in voting which is done at the end of the season, he has started all six games for the Oilers who kick off their second-round series tonight against Vegas. He’s looking to become the first goalie to win the award since Steve Mason did so in 2008-09.
Power, the first-overall selection in 2021, got his feet wet in the NHL down the stretch last season but 2022-23 was his first full NHL campaign. It was an impressive one for the 20-year-old as he led all freshman rearguards in scoring with 35 points in 79 games. Power also logged nearly 24 minutes a night, ranking him second on the team behind Rasmus Dahlin and inside the top 20 league-wide among all players, not just rookies. Buffalo’s last winner of the Calder Trophy was defenseman Tyler Myers back in 2009-10.
As for Beniers, he was the second-overall pick in 2022 and followed the same path as Power, playing late last season but seeing his first full NHL campaign in 2022-23. The 20-year-old led all rookies in scoring with 24 goals and 33 assists in 80 games while ranking fourth among first-year forwards in ATOI at just over 17 minutes a night. Beniers only recorded one penalty all season, making him just the fourth player in NHL history to play in at least 80 games and have two penalty minutes or fewer. He’ll be looking to become the first player from an expansion franchise to win the Calder Trophy within his team’s first two seasons since Peter Stastny (Quebec) won back in 1980-81.
The winner of the award will be revealed at the NHL Awards ceremony on June 26th. Meanwhile, the finalists for the Norris Trophy are up next to be announced on Thursday.