Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year at the 2018 NHL Awards Presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old center led NHL rookies with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists), 20 more than the next closest player (Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes) and finished tied for 13th in the League in scoring. He was the seventh rookie in NHL history with at least 20 goals and 60 assists in one season and the first since Sidney Crosby with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had 102 points (39 goals, 63 assists) in 2005-06.
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"It's something you think about. It's the Calder. You're a rookie. It just kind of goes together," Barzal said. "Halfway through the season, I think once the race heated up, you hear a lot of buzz around it. It's a fun experience competing for it. Brock [Boeser] and Clayton, they both had successful years and it pushed me to want to do the same. It was a goal. Maybe halfway through the season, I thought there was a chance."
Video: NHL Awards: Mat Barzal Calder Memorial Trophy Scrum
Barzal had three five-point games this season, the second rookie to do so; the other was Joe Malone with the Montreal Canadiens in 1917-18, the NHL's first season. Barzal led NHL rookies in power-play points (27), was tied for fourth in game-winning goals (four), and finished second among rookie forwards in ice-time per game (17:46) behind Keller (18:05).
"This is a fun three days, but there's a lot of work," Barzal said. "It's the Calder Trophy, it's not the Ted Lindsay (most outstanding player) or the Hart (most valuable player). Those are the big boy awards, I was saying. Hopefully one day I could be back. This is fun, but I'm committed to training and getting on the ice in the summer. If you work hard away from the rink then you don't have any worries."
Selected by the Islanders with the No. 16 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Barzal is the fifth player in Islanders history to win the Calder and the first since defenseman Bryan Berard in 1996-97. Dennis Potvin (1973-74), Brian Trottier (1975-76) and Mike Bossy (1977-78) also won the Calder Trophy for the Islanders.
"All Hall of Famers, it's incredible," Barzal said. "Obviously, we have some storied players with the Islanders, and for me to even be in the same breath as Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, I mean, I couldn't ask for anything else."
The other finalists were Keller and Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser. Keller, 19, finished second among NHL rookies with 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists). Boeser, 21, finished second among rookies in goals (29) and fifth in points (55) in 62 games; he missed the final 16 games of the season with a back injury.
"It was actually against us when the injury happened," Barzal said. "[It was] super unfortunate. I was actually sick to my stomach on the ice looking him there. I do think it would have been fun. There was so much buzz if he was going to get 40 goals or where he was going to end up. In terms of the scoring race, if he was healthy I'm sure he would have hit that 40-goal mark and who knows at that point."
Here is the voting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association:
1. Mathew Barzal, NYI 1626 (160-3-1-0-0)
2. Brock Boeser, VAN 750 (2-61-45-21-15)
3. Clayton Keller, ARI 492 (1-26-31-38-31)
4. Kyle Connor, WPG 442 (0-22-35-28-29)
5. Charlie McAvoy, BOS 407 (0-24-28-27-18)
6. Yanni Gourde, TBL 285 (1-14-13-28-28)
7. Nico Hischier, NJD 111 (0-7-6-6-14)
8. Pierre-Luc Dubois, CBJ 61 (0-2-2-8-13)
9. Wil Butcher, NJD 37 (0-1-2-5-5)
10. Alex DeBrincat, CHI 34 (0-2-1-2-9)