Three young guns have been named as the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy finalists. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, and forwards Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators. The award is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition”, the National Hockey League announced on Thursday.
In any other sport, this is simply the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.
Ekblad was the 1st overall selection by the Panthers in 2014 and did not disappoint as the classes top pick. He set club records for goals (12), assists (27) and points (39) by a rookie defenseman. In fact, Ekblad’s 39 points were just two shy of the NHL record for an 18 year old defensemen, set by the legendary Bobby Orr in 1967.
Gaudreau was a fourth round pick by the Flames back in 2011. He ranked first among all rookies in assists (40) and power play goals (8) this season. ‘Johnny Hockey’ also had 24 goals on the season, with a total of 60 points, helping lead his Calgary Flames to their first playoff appearance in 6 seasons.
Mark Stone was a sixth round selection in 2010, and led the rookie scoring this season with 26 goals. His run also included a rookie club record nine game point streak. Stone led all rookies in plus-minus (+21) and actually led the league in takeaways (98).
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy at the end of the regular season, and top three vote-getters are then the three finalists. The winner will be announced on June 24th during the 2015 NHL Awards Ceremony held in Las Vegas.