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.