NEW YORK -- Defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers and forwards Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators are the three finalists for the 2014-15 Calder Memorial Trophy, 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 Wednesday, June 24, during the 2015 NHL Awards from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Calder Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Ekblad, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, set club records for goals (12), assists (27) and points (39) by a rookie defenseman. His 39 points were two shy of the NHL record for an 18-year-old defenseman (at the start of the season), set by Bobby Orr in 1966-67 (13-28—41). Ekblad led the Panthers in plus-minus (+12) and was on the ice for 88 Florida goals scored, the most of any player on the roster. The Windsor, Ont., native is aiming to become the second Panthers player to capture the Calder in three years, following Jonathan Huberdeau's win in 2013.
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
A fourth-round selection (104th overall) by the Flames in the 2011 NHL Draft, Gaudreau recorded 24-40—64 to finish in a tie in points with Stone atop the rookie scoring list. He ranked first among all rookies in assists (40) and power-play goals (eight), and topped rookie forwards in average ice time per game (17:43). The 21-year-old Salem, N.J., native recorded his first career hat trick on Dec. 22, becoming the youngest Flames player to do so since Dec. 28, 1987 (Joe Nieuwendyk). Gaudreau is vying to become the first Flames player to earn Calder Trophy honors since Sergei Makarov in 1990.
Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators
Stone, a sixth-round selection (178th overall) by Ottawa in 2010, recorded 26-38—64 to finish first in the rookie scoring race. That featured 14-21—35 dating to Feb. 10 (31 GP), including a rookie club record nine-game point streak to end the season (8-5—13). Stone capped his performance with two goals in the season finale to help the team complete its successful playoff drive. He also led all rookies in plus-minus (+21) and shared first in the League in takeaways (98). The 22-year-old Winnipeg native would become the second player in franchise history to win the Calder, joining Daniel Alfredsson in 1996.
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 three finalists for NHL trophies are being announced by NBCSN in the United States and Sportsnet/TVA in Canada on Stanley Cup Playoff broadcasts through May 5, during pregame programming from 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., ET. The series of announcements continues on Friday, April 24, when the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy will be unveiled.
IMG will produce the 2015 NHL Awards™, under the direction of executive producer Steve Mayer.
A full line up of presenters and entertainment, information on broadcasting and tickets, as well as hospitality and travel packages through PrimeSport will be announced at a future date. In what has become an annual tradition, EA SPORTS will be unveiling the Cover Athlete for the upcoming launch of NHL 16. In addition, fans can enter for a chance to win a trip to the 2015 NHL Awards™ at www.NHL.com/Vegas and tweet about the event using the official hashtag #NHLAwards.