Mathew Barzal’s play was one of the few highlights of the 2017-18 season for the New York Islanders. Now he’s a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
It seemed a foregone conclusion for fans of the New York Islanders, but the NHL made it official on Sunday, announcing Mathew Barzal as one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top rookie.
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2018
Barzal will be battling Vancouver’s Brock Boeser and Arizona’s Clayton Keller for the honor. But a quick look at the numbers put up by the three first-year stars leaves only one conclusion—this should be Barzal’s award.
Not only did the 20-year-old lead all rookie skaters with 85 points—a commanding 20-point lead over Keller, who finished second—but he was the only rookie that played in more than two games to average more than a point per contest.
The 16th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Barzal thrived on the team’s second line, skating alongside Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd—yes, that Andrew Ladd. He led the Isles in scoring this past season, edging out captain (and free agent to be) John Tavares by a single point, 85 to 84.
Should Barzal take home the award, he’d become the fifth Islanders rookie to win the Calder Trophy—the franchise’s first in more than 20 years. The four previous winners?
While Berard ultimately didn’t pan out, the other three are all Hall of Famers, cornerstones of the Islanders dynasty and among the best to ever lace up their skates in the NHL. Nobody’s saying Barzal will reach their level, but winning the Calder would put him in some rarefied air.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association will cast their votes for the award, with the winner being announced at the annual NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 20.