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Handicapping the rookie race for the NHL’s 2014 Calder Trophy

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Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Ligbtning

Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson have outside shots at beating the heavy Calder favorite. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Now that everyone knows what position Alex Ovechkin plays (we are clear on that, aren’t we guys?), the voting for this year’s NHL awards offers few challenges. While a couple of honors are still up for grabs with less than a month to go, most are already in the bag. In fact, handicapping this year’s Calder Trophy race is about as challenging as picking the winner of the 1977 Kentucky Derby.

When early favorite Tomas Hertl of the Sharks went down before Christmas with a season-ending knee injury, Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon stepped up and, before long, ran away with the race.

The No. 1 pick in last June’s NHL Draft leads all freshmen in the stats that catch the eye: goals (22), assists (29), points (51), power play goals (8), game winners (5) and shots (192). Then there are the peripherals: the No. 1 pedigree; the tender age (the kid is still somehow just 18); and his part in the turnaround in Colorado.

NIESEN: Speedy MacKinnon trying to dodge the spotlight

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  • Published On Mar 17, 2014
  • Jonas Brodin snubbed as NHL announces 2013 Calder Trophy finalists

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    Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Brandon Saad are the 2013 Calder Trophy nominees

    Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Brandon Saad got nods for their exceptional play. (Getty 2; Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    It’s hard to knock any of the three rookies who were announced this morning as finalists for the Calder Trophy.

    The rambunctious play of Brendan Gallagher was one of the keys to Montreal’s surprising worst-to-first season. He ranked second among rookies with 15 goals and fourth with 28 points, finishing in the top five in shots on goal (second, 117), plus/minus (fifth, plus-10) and game-winning goals (tied for first, 3). Not bad for a guy who was plucked from the obscurity of the draft’s fifth round in 2010.

    Jonathan Huberdeau delivered on his promise as the third-overall pick in 2011, ranking second both on the Panthers and among NHL rookies with 31 points. His 16:55 average time on ice paced all freshman forwards, and he ranked in the top-four in goals (14), assists and shots (112). But what really made Huberdeau’s candidacy was his highlight-reel work in the shootout and on a pair of high-profile penalty shots. Yeah, he’s pretty good.

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  • Published On May 06, 2013
  • Awards races tight as season, playoffs

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    Few people get fired up about the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play and sportsmanship, however Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell will be a rare bird if he wins it. (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL hands out its annual individual player awards tonight in Las Vegas during a glitzy, star-spangled gala that’s a far cry from the afternoon luncheons in Montreal that were hosted by Clarence Campbell.

    Just as the regular season and playoffs were hard to predict as a result of the league’s parity, it’s difficult to try determining who the voters selected for some of the hardware, and there may be some controversial choices among fans who will believe that the wrong guy won. You have to keep in mind that the voting was done at the conclusion of the regular season and the award recognizes only that aspect of the players’ performances. The playoffs are not a factor.

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  • Published On Jun 20, 2012
  • Our choices for the 2011 NHL Awards

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    Given the rugged nature of the position, a defenseman hasn’t won the Lady Byng Trophy (gentlemanly play) since 1954, but Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings truly deserves it. (Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL hands out its regular season awards on Wednesday evening in Las Vegas, a venue that just oozes hockey history and tradition. Actually, the “nominees-winner” Academy Awards-style format is as artificial as Vegas glitz because the “nominees” are not nominees at all but actually the top three vote-getters from the April balloting (here’s who SI.com’s Michael Farber chose) after the votes are tabulated. So the winner has already been determined when the nominees are announced. This format transforms the known into the suspenseful, so maybe Vegas is the right venue after all.
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  • Published On Jun 21, 2011
  • Botta protest may affect NHL awards

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    Rookie Michael Grabner is a solid Calder Trophy candidate, but he will likely lose votes if local chapters of the Pro Hockey Writers Association boycotts the NHL awards. (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    A number of hockey writers took the opportunity this weekend to speculate about who might win the NHL’s major individual awards, many of which, including the Hart, Calder, Selke, Norris and Lady Byng, are selected by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. But three PHWA  chapters –in New York, Long Island and New Jersey – are apparently not casting ballots this year to protest the Islanders revoking the credential of Chris Botta, a PHWA member and former Islanders public relations director who was occasionally critical of the club in his Islanderspointblank blog.

    This means that at least 20 of the 177 eligible members of the PHWA won’t be casting their ballots.
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  • Published On Apr 04, 2011


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