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Calder Trophy

Calder Trophy winner debated by NHL.com

Sabres defenseman Dahlin, Canucks forward Pettersson, Blues goalie Binnington finalists for best rookie

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The Calder Trophy is a three-player race between defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres, forward Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks and goalie Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues. Who will win the honor of best rookie when it is handed out during the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas on June 19? That remains to be seen, but we had five members of the NHL.com staff debate the merits of the finalists to see how the voting among the Professional Hockey Writers' Association could shake out.

 
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

With all due respect to the other Calder Trophy finalists, Pettersson was in high gear from start to finish. He was an elite skater, great playmaker and he possessed a heck of a shot that was almost impossible for goalies to handle, particularly his one-timer from the top of the circle. The 20-year-old center knew exactly where he was going with the puck before it hit his tape and was a highlight waiting to happen, scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot in his first game Oct. 3. He became the 31st player in NHL history and first since Artemi Panarin in 2015-16 to lead all rookies in goals, assists, and points, and set a Canucks rookie record with seven game-winning goals. Despite his success, I liked how Pettersson remained humble, thanking his teammates whenever he had the chance. He was more about getting wins than individual statistics.

Video: Discussing Elias Pettersson's breakout rookie season

 

Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

What stood out to me about Pettersson was how he was a difference maker from Game 1 to Game 82 for the Canucks. He announced his presence with a huge October (10 points in eight games), and when teams took notice and began game-planning against him, he was even better in November (12 points in 14 games) and December (17 points in 14 games). And he was better on the road (17 goals, 34 points), when coaches could match lines and defense pairs against him, than he was at home (11 goals, 32 points). The Canucks had 81 points this season (35-36-11), eight points better than last season (31-40-11). Dahlin and Binnington each had great seasons but neither produced more nor helped their team more than Pettersson.

 

David Satriano, staff writer

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues

Although Pettersson was the top rookie scorer, no first-year player meant more to his team this season than Binnington. The 25-year-old goalie won 24 of his 30 starts, had five shutouts, and was among leaders in goals-against average (1.91) and save percentage (.927). When he was in, the Blues won far more often than they lost, and he was the biggest reason they went from last in the NHL standings to clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. Binnington allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of his 32 games and won nine straight from Jan. 23-Feb 19. He should become the first goalie to win the award since Steve Mason with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008-09.

Video: Jordan Binnington shines in Blues' Game 7 victory

 

Tim Campbell, staff writer

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

The Calder Trophy is as close to a no-contest as it gets for me, and Pettersson deserves to be the runaway winner. The other finalists are worthy of praise, especially Binnington, whose fresh face was part of the Blues' turnaround story. But though it's admirable my esteemed colleague David felt strongly enough to promote Binnington to the top of his virtual ballot, he is mistaken about impact. No rookie in the NHL had more impact that Pettersson and the 20-year-old Sweden-born center is the sole reason there is once again so much enthusiasm about the Canucks' future. In my estimation, Adam has identified the two critical elements that put Pettersson at the top of the class. First, he produced more on the road than at home and second, opponents did start to build their game plans around trying to keep him in check. Why did they do that? Because Pettersson is a game-breaker, head and shoulders above any rival for the entire season.

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues

Here's the thing about perspective, it requires time to gain some. I needed time to come around on Binnington and I freely admit my perspective on his impact was gained in the playoffs. That has nothing to do with this vote because this is a regular season award but going back and studying what he did for the Blues, talking with people around the team about his impact on them just getting into the playoffs, it became clear to me that he is the right choice for the Calder Trophy. Pettersson had a terrific rookie season and he's going to be a star. He might have a far better NHL career than Binnington. But this season, Binnington was the best rookie. He made the biggest difference on his team. The Blues' season turned around when Binnington arrived. He did everything well. You could make a case that he should be up for the Hart Trophy. He should be a runaway winner for the Calder Trophy.

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