As the season comes to an end, nominees for various trophies like the Calder, Norris, Selke, Jack Adams, Vezina, and Hart will be named by the NHL on behalf of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, NHL general managers, and the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
All of us at Puck It Up have decided to make our own picks for who we think should win each of the trophies and awards. Here are our picks for the Calder Trophy which is awarded to the best NHL rookie.
Vanessa’s Pick: Yanni Gourde
Yanni Gourde has been flying under the radar of the Calder Trophy race with big names like Broke Boeser and Matthew Barzal in contention. Gourde is currently second behind Matthew Barzal in points among rookies with 56 points beating out top drafted rookies like Boeser and Clayton Keller. Gourde went undrafted and spent a lot of time going up and down from the AHL to the ECHL in the early days of his career. In 2014, Gourde signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and has played for the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, ever since then. Gourde has been a star among stars in the Lightning’s line up this season. While Barzal may be a unanimous favorite among the media and elsewhere, it would be an absolute shame for the League to not even consider Yanni Gourde as a Calder Trophy nominee.
Elham’s Pick: Charlie McAvoy
Charlie McAvoy! He’s a defenseman which would be a change because it is very rare they give a Calder to one. He’s only 20 and is an essential role player for the Bruins. He’s gone through multiple injuries but continues to prove his motivation and determination to have a legacy in the NHL!
Jen’s Pick: Clayton Keller
My pick for the Calder Trophy this year has to go to Clayton Keller. On an Arizona Coyotes team eliminated from the playoffs two weeks before the season ends, he still managed to have a phenomenal first year. He recently broke the record for most points by a Coyotes rookie. He is currently in fourth place for points, second for assists and fifth for goals among first-year players, definitely holding his own in the rookie scoring race. To me, the true “rookie of the year” is a player who manages to shine despite being on a less-than-ideal team, and, in my opinion, no one has done that better than Clayton Keller this season.
The rest of us? Mathew Barzal
Kayla: My pick for the Calder is Mathew Barzal. I’ve been keeping an eye on him since the beginning of the season, and it’s definitely been worth it. He didn’t start out as a stand out player for me, but now he’s leading the rookies in assists, points, and points-per-game. If you watch his overall growth as a player, you can tell he’s an easy shoe-in as the Calder winner and a player to watch throughout his career.
Claire: Mathew Barzal. It seemed like it was coming down to him and Brock Boeser but with Boeser’s injury, I think Barzal will win it. (Here’s more about why he should win.)
Ruchi: As much as I want to be biased and say someone like Alex Debrincat or Nico Hischer should win the Calder, I know it really should be Mathew Barzal. While he does benefit by playing with some big names, he also brings a lot of talent and skill to the New York Islanders.
Alyssa: It’s really hard to ignore Barzal in this year’s rookie race when he’s putting on a performance that challenges the record books. There’s no denying that his fellow first-years are contending alongside, but none of them exactly meet his match. The fans expected great things from players like Clayton Keller and Brock Boeser from the start of the season, and those players did not disappoint. But when you prove capable of measuring up to Mario Lemieux’s rookie assist record and thrive the way Barzal has amongst an otherwise underperforming team, it’s well-warranted to give credit where credit is due.
Leave a comment below or tweet us who you think should win the Calder! We’ll be posting the rest of our picks in the next few weeks, so be sure to check back for them.