Columbus goaltender Steve Mason and forwards Bobby Ryan of Anaheim and Kris Versteeg of Chicago are the three finalists for the 2008-09 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
Following are the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
Designated Columbus’ goaltender of the future, Mason’s career soared ahead of schedule when he won his first three NHL starts Nov. 5, 7 and 8 to seize the Blue Jackets’ net. Named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for both November and December, he posted a franchise-record three straight shutouts in late December during a four-game winning streak in which he stopped 94 of 95 shots. Mason finished strong, going 8-2-4 from Mar. 7-Apr.8 as Columbus captured the first playoff berth in franchise history. His 10 shutouts led the League and his 2.29 goals against average ranked second to Tim Thomas’ 2.10 for Boston.
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks
The second overall selection in the 2005 Entry Draft, Ryan got his first taste of NHL competition by playing in 23 games for the Ducks last season. He built upon that experience this season to lead all rookies with 31 goals and 57 points in only 64 games. Ryan surged in the middle of the season, earning Rookie of the Month honors for January when he scored 11 goals with five assists in 14 games. On Jan. 8 at Los Angeles, he erupted for three goals in 2:21, the third fastest hat trick by a rookie in NHL history. With goals in five straight games from Jan. 17-28 he set an Anaheim rookie record.
Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks
A speedy winger who excels at both ends of the ice, Versteeg joins teammates 2007-08 winner Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to become the third Blackhawk in the last two seasons voted a Calder Trophy finalist. Versteeg led all NHL rookies this season with 31 assists as part of the young core that drove Chicago to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. His four shorthanded goals also were tops among League rookies and fourth overall. He recorded points in five straight games (four goals, four assists) from Nov. 14-22. In the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 on New Year’s Day at Wrigley Field, Versteeg scored a goal and assisted on another.
From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, NHL President Frank Calder purchased a trophy each year to be given permanently to the NHL’s outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the League presented the Calder Trophy in his memory.
The NHL will announce the three finalists for each of its awards daily. The remaining announcement schedule:
Thur., April 23: James Norris Memorial Trophy (top defenseman)
Fri., April 24: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (skill/sportsmanship)
Mon., April 27: Vezina Trophy (top goaltender)
Tue., April 28: Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward)
Wed., Apr. 29: Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
Thur., Apr. 30: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (perseverance and dedication to hockey)
Fri., May 1: Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)
Mon., May 4: NHL Foundation Player Award (contributions to charitable causes)