On Monday, the league announced the three finalists for Rookie of the Year. The Calder Trophy nominees are Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher, Florida Panthers centre Jonathan Huberdeau and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad.
Gallagher was picked up by the Habs 147th overall in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It was a nice birthday present for the 18-year-old, a perfect fit to go with 28 points in 44 regular season games. Gallagher also has two playoff goals thus far.
Huberdeau was selected third overall by the Panthers in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has 31 points in 44 games. The Saint-Jérôme-born forward was one of the rare bright spots in an otherwise dismal season in Florida. He finished second on the team in scoring, which may not be that much of a feat.
Saad was drafted 43rd overall by the Blackhaws in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The Pittsburgh native scored his first NHL goal in February and finished the regular season with 27 points in 46 games. Saad finished fifth among rookie scorers in the abbreviated season.
Perhaps surprisingly, Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov was left out. The winger led the rookies in goals with 17, with six of those coming on the power play. Like Huberdeau, he was prone to streaky play. But unlike Huberdeau, Yakupov wasn’t on the list for the Calder Trophy.
Cory Conacher was once considered by many in the business to be a possibility for the Calder, but the Senator was also not in the mix. He finished third among rookies in scoring with 29 points in 47 games.
St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko was also among the names rumoured when the season began, while defenceman Justin Schultz was also a possibility.
There are many ways this could’ve broken down this year, but the omission of Yakupov seems to be a clear mistake by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
The league is set to announce the Norris Trophy nominees for top defenceman on Tuesday and will continue to roll out nominees for awards throughout the next while.