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.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.