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MacKinnon, Johnson and Palat named Calder Trophy finalists

Apr 23, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 25: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on March 25, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and a pair of Tampa Bay teammates — Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson — have been named the three finalists for the 2014 Calder Trophy, the NHL announced on Wednesday.

Awarded annually to the league’s top rookie, this year’s Calder is expected to go to MacKinnon, the first overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft that led all first-year players in points (63) and assists (39). He also broke Wayne Gretzky’s record for the longest point streak by a player 18 or younger — 12 games — and became the fourth Colorado player in the last eight years to be named a Calder finalist, joining Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, who took home the trophy in 2012.

As for Palat and Johnson, they’ve made strong cases to be among the Calder finalist group. Johnson led all first-year scorers with 24 goals and set a Lightning rookie record in the process; he also became just the second rookie in NHL history to score five power-play and shorthanded goals in a single season.

What’s more, Johnson becomes the first undraft Calder finalist since Ed Belfour in 1991 — he signed with the Bolts as an undrafted free agent in 2011 following a standout career with WHL Spokane.

As for Palat, he finished second to MacKinnon in points (59) and was three shy of breaking Brad Richards‘ franchise rookie scoring record. The Czech skater — who represented his country at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi — captured rookie of the month honors in January and March, and finished atop the first-year leaderboard in plus-minus (+32).

Oh, and in case you’re wondering — Palat and Johnson are the first teammates to be nominated for the Calder since Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in 2008.

  1. ctcork - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Mackinnon will take it but having two finalists will be victory enough for us. Looking forward to the future of the Lightning, big things on the way

    • big64d - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      Us? what position do you play?

      • ctcork - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        I’m the thunder

    • steelpenbucs87 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      I hear that Drouin kid is pretty good too

  2. btlpper68 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Fellow shark fans please don’t start the ” if hertl wasn’t hurt stuff” I like hertl a lot but mackinnon just dominated straight out of jr, he deserves the Calder 100%

  3. stcrowe - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    I almost never see TBL games, so I knew nothing of Palat until the Montreal series. I was impressed by his play. He just needs to be more careful when he is chasing P.K. Subban behind the net.

  4. ironyisadeadscene - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    MacKinnon for the win

  5. purpleguy - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    After watching MacKinnon play my team the last 3 games I can see why he’s a shoo-in to win this thing.

  6. haloquacks19 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Was hoping that Lindholm might get some recognition for his stellar play this year. That being said, McKinnon will undoubtedly take this one home. #manchild

  7. steelpenbucs87 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Was hoping Maatta might sneak in here, but you absolutely can’t argue the three nominees – just an outstanding group of rookies this year, led by the runaway winner in MacKinnon

  8. skeeterbarnes - Apr 23, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    McKinnon will win it (deservedly so), but Jacob Trouba from Winnipeg should have gotten a nomination. He carried the back end for 20-25 minutes a night, penalty killing responsibilities and ended up a +4 (yeah, the +/- is a flawed stat) on a team that had trouble keeping the puck out of the net. Coaches were not afraid to have him out against the top lines at any time of the game. While the 2 Lightning players were very good, defense is a much more difficult position for a young guy to play.

  9. avscup - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    I like Trouba’s game a bunch and you are correct, D is much harder for rookies.

    MacKinnon is the best teenager on the planet though. He started the year with huge defensive responsibilities and after proving himself, started lighting up the lamp. Simply awesome. To break Gretzky’s rookie record for consecutive game scoring was frosting!

  10. pavelfitzgerald - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    That’s why skeeter said Trouba should’ve got a nomination not win it …

    Anyone arguing that MacKinnon shouldn’t have won is an idiot who doesn’t know sh!t about hockey

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