Midway through the 2017-18 NHL season, the race for the Calder was one of the most highly contested the NHL has seen in quite some time. Not just one or two deserving candidates, but somewhere around five or six young players shone for their respective teams.
It was only until the tail end of the season, when Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks got injured that the race started becoming more of a one man show, that being the Mathew Barzal show.
As the finalists for the Calder Trophy get narrowed down and revealed on Sunday, TSN.ca looks at the numbers to suggest which candidates are mostly likely to get a nomination for the award.
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
Barzal had an incredible season for the New York Islanders. Although his team did not make the playoffs, Barzal was a force for the Islanders, especially in the second half of the season.
Things didn’t start well for Barzal however. He failed to earn a point in his first five games of his career but managed to finish the season with 85 points in 82 games.
He also managed to collect five points in a game three times in the season. The 20-year-old recorded five assists against the Colorado Avalanche on November 5 and then again on February 9 against the Detroit Red Wings.
The five assists in a game was a franchise record as a rookie for an Islander and the Coquitlam, BC native managed to do it twice in a season.
The best of the rest:
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
Boeser had one of the best rookie campaigns as a Vancouver Canuck despite having his season cut short due to injury. Boeser managed to score 29 goals and tally 55 points in 62 games with the Canucks. His 0.89 points per game came second behind Barzal among all rookie forwards.
Boeser had two game winning goals to his credit and was lethal on the power play, scoring a rookie high 10 goals.
If the 21-year-old didn’t manage to sustain the lower back fracture, he might have most likely been in a dead heat for the award with Barzal.
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
Another rookie with an impressive campaign was Arizona Coyotes youngest Clayton Keller.
Keller managed to finish second in rookie scoring behind Barzal with 65 points in 82 games played.
The 19-year-old won NHL rookie of the month twice and was tied for the team lead in points.
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
The only defenceman on this list, McAvoy was a major key for the Boston Bruins and their great regular season.
Despite missing 19 games with a sprained MCL, McAvoy played on the defensive pairing with captain Zdeno Chara and played first pair minutes.
McAvoy score 7 goals and added 25 assists on the season but his presence was felt on a team that ranked fourth in goals allowed per game. The Bruins also finished second in the league on the penalty kill and his plus-20 rating ranked highest among rookie defenceman.
Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay Lightning
A surprise contender in this race, Gourde managed to shatter any expectations of the 26-year-old.
Gourde beat out Tyler Johnson’s rookie record of goals scored in a season with 25 and ended the season with 64 points. He also managed a plus-34, the highest amoungst rookies.
Gourde played 298 games in the AHL and 38 games in the ECHL before finally staying long enough with the team to play a full NHL season. Gourde played 20 games in 2016-17 with the Lightning and just 2 in 2015-16 so it’s been a long time coming for the left-winger.
The 26-year-old also scored five game winning goals during the season and managed 13 powerplay points.
Playing predominately on the third line, Gourde found a lot of success on the second powerplay unit playing with Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.
Honourable mentions: Will Butcher (NJD), Kyle Connor (WPG) Alex DeBrincat (CHI)