TORONTO - A year ago, pundits debated whether a skinny skid named Patrick Kane could crack the NHL as an 18-year-old after being the first overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the entry draft.
The answer: would he ever.
The native of Buffalo, N.Y., was awarded the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year Thursday night, capping an impressive season that saw him lead all NHL freshmen with 72 points (21-51) in 82 games. He's the first Hawk to win the Calder since goalie Ed Belfour in 1990-91.
Kane beat out Hawks linemate Jonthan Toews and Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom for the award. Toews led all rookies with 24 goals despite missing more than a month with a knee injury. Backstrom was second in rookie scoring with 69 points (14-55) in 82 games.
The Calder is voted on by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. And Kane got the writers' attention early, roaring out of the gate gangbusters. He recorded 16 points in October, the most in the opening month of the season by a rookie since 1992-93.