To mark the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular season, NHL.com is running its fifth installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Calder Trophy, the award given annually to the player selected as the top rookie in the NHL as selected in a Professional Hockey Writers' Association poll.
Elias Pettersson had the greatest season by a rookie in the history of the Vancouver Canucks.
The 20-year-old center finished his first NHL season with a Canucks-record 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games to pass Pavel Bure (1991-92) and Ivan Hlinka (1981-82), who each had 60 points as a rookie for Vancouver.
Pettersson set the record when he had an assist for his 61st point in his 62nd NHL game, a 3-2 overtime win at the Chicago Blackhawks on March 18.
Video: VAN@CHI: Pettersson sets Canucks rookie scoring mark
"It's a lot to take in," Pettersson said after setting the record. "It means a lot to me. I'm very proud of it."
A panel of 21 NHL.com writers voted for the winner of the Calder Trophy at the end of the season, and 18 believe Pettersson will be the first Sweden-born forward to be named top rookie in the NHL since Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche in 2012.
Pettersson received 102 points and 18 first-place votes.
St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington was second with 74 points and three first-place votes; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin was third with 65 points, Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen was fourth (32 points), and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk finished fifth (19 points).
Dahlin, who played with Pettersson for silver medal-winning Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, said no other NHL rookie impacted the game like Pettersson.
"[Pettersson] is the favorite to win the Calder; 100 percent," Dahlin said. "I guess it's pretty hard not to see what he did this season. To be honest, I'm not really surprised. He was unbelievable last year in the Swedish Elite League and he's such a skilled player ... he's one of a kind.
"He's got so much skill, but his hockey IQ is something special. He sees the ice so well and never looks at the puck, always stick on the puck, and everything looks so easy for him."
Dahlin isn't the only player impressed with Pettersson's ability. Jack Hughes, a center for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team who could be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21, is also a fan.
"I never used to watch Vancouver much, but now that (brother Quinn Hughes) is there, I kind of take notice more. Seeing what Pettersson has done at such a young age, coming into the League and ripping it to shreds the way he has, is kind of unbelievable," Hughes said. "He's such a talent ... he's an unbelievable passer and has a bomb of a shot, has scored multiple one-timer goals that just blow past the goaltenders. I think he's a really good player, and he's so fun to watch."
Pettersson was a highlight waiting to happen this season. He scored his first NHL goal on his first shot during the fifth shift of his first game, a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 3.
Video: CGY@VAN: Pettersson nets first NHL goal after prank
He is the 31st player in NHL history to end a season leading rookies in goals, assists, and points, and the first since Artemi Panarin of the Blackhawks in 2015-16 (30 goals, 47 assists, 77 points in 80 games).
Pettersson also set a Canucks rookie record with seven game-winning goals.
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Elias Pettersson, Canucks, 102 points (18 first-place votes); Jordan Binnington, Blues, 74 points (three first-place votes); Rasmus Dahlin, Sabres, 65 points; Miro Heiskanen, Stars, 32 points; Brady Tkachuk, Senators, 19 points; Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers, eight points; Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes, eight points; Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Maple Leafs, four points; Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning, three points