Rookie Mountain High: Avs’ MacKinnon wins Calder

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For the second time in three years, the Calder Trophy is going to Denver.

Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon captured the league’s rookie of the year award on Tuesday night, beating out Tampa Bay teammates Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson for the honor. With the win, MacKinnon joined Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog as a Calder winner (Landeskog captured his in 2011-12) and just the ninth player in NHL history to win the trophy after being selected No. 1 overall, joining the likes of Gilbert Perreault, Denis Potvin, Bobby Smith, Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Bryan Berard, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane.

Though Palat and Johnson had solid years, MacKinnon was a runaway Calder winner given his tremendous regular season — the former QMJHL Halifax star topped all first-year players in points (63), goals (24-tied), assists (39), power-play goals (8), game-winning goals (5-tied) and shots (241) this year.

Here are the voting results for the top 10 candidates:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Nathan MacKinnon, COL 1347 (130-6-1-0-0)
2. Ondrej Palat, TB 791 (5-78-29-15-5)
3. Tyler Johnson, TB 352 (0-13-29-30-26)
4. Torey Krug, BOS 287 (1-9-23-25-24)
5. Olli Maatta, PIT 225 (0-11-18-16-10)
6. Jacob Trouba, WPG 213 (1-11-17-9-14)
7. Hampus Lindholm, ANA 208 (0-7-15-22-18)
8. Sean Monahan, CGY 38 (0-2-2-3-5)
9. Frederik Andersen, ANA 25 (0-0-0-4-13)
10. Chris Kreider, NYR 20 (0-0-1-3-6)

To little surprise, MacKinnon ran away with the voting. In case you’re wondering, Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones came in 11th.

Take a look at the Calder Trophy winners and runners up since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2014 Nathan MacKinnon, Col. Ondrej Palat, T.B.
2013 Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla. B. Gallagher, Mtl.
2012 Gabriel Landeskog, Col. R. Nugent-Hopkins, Edm.
2011 Jeff Skinner, Car. Logan Couture, S.J.
2010 Tyler Myers, Buf. Jimmy Howard, Det.
2009 Steve Mason, CBJ Bobby Ryan, Ana
2008 Patrick Kane, Chi. N. Backstrom, Wsh
2007 Evgeni Malkin, Pit. Paul Stastny, Col.
2006 Alex Ovechkin, Wsh. Sidney Crosby, Pit.
2004 Andrew Raycroft, Bos. Michael Ryder, Mtl.
2003 Barret Jackman, St.L Henrik Zetterberg, Det.
2002 Dany Heatley, Atl. Ilya Kovalchuk, Atl.
2001 Evgeni Nabokov, S.J. Brad Richards, T.B.
2000 Scott Gomez, N.J. Brad Stuart, S.J.
1999 Chris Drury, Col. Marian Hossa, Ott.
1998 Sergei Samsonov, Bos. Mattias Ohlund, Van.
1997 Bryan Berard, NYI Jarome Iginla, Cgy.
1996 Daniel Alfredsson, Ott. Eric Daze, Chi.
1995 Peter Forsberg, Que. Jim Carey, Wsh.
1994 Martin Brodeur, N.J. Jason Arnott, Edm.
1993 Teemu Selanne, Wpg. Joe Juneau, Bos.
1992 Pavel Bure, Van. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1991 Ed Belfour, Chi. Sergei Fedorov, Det.
1990 Sergei Makarov, Cgy. Mike Modano, Min.

 

Despite cancer diagnosis, Devils’ Brian Boyle doesn’t want to miss games

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New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle shared frightening news on Tuesday, yet he’s showing resounding courage and optimism in also plotting his “plan of attack.”

Boye, 32, announced that he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Tuesday.

Chronic myeloid luekemia (or CML) is a type of bone marrow cancer. Here’s an explanation of the disease via the American Cancer Society:

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia, is a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. In CML, a genetic change takes place in an early (immature) version of myeloid cells – the cells that make red blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells (except lymphocytes). This change forms an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which turns the cell into a CML cell. The leukemia cells grow and divide, building up in the bone marrow and spilling over into the blood. In time, the cells can also settle in other parts of the body, including the spleen. CML is a fairly slow growing leukemia, but it can also change into a fast-growing acute leukemia that is hard to treat.

Despite that scary news, Boyle is very positive about his chances; in fact, he hopes to live a “normal life,” right down to playing in the Devils’ season-opener on Oct. 7.

Back in 2014, Boyle discussed his father’s battle with cancer to ESPN. It’s quite an inspiring read.

We’ve seen multiple instances of hockey players showing resilience while fighting cancer during the active career. Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu stand as some of the most memorable examples, while Phil Kessel also comes to mind.

Jason Blake bounced back from CML, specifically:

The number one thing isn’t playing hockey, of course. It’s most important that Boyle emphasizes his overall health, even if that means taking some time off.

The Devils seem to be very supportive of Boyle as his fight begins. Here’s hoping he wins this one.

Contenders should keep an eye on Jaroslav Halak

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Here’s a gut reaction regarding the 2017-18 season: there aren’t a ton of teams with unclear goalie situations, at least as far as who their top guy is.

Clear number ones

The Frederik AndersenJohn Gibson battle ended last summer. Promising backups like Cam Talbot, Scott Darling, and Antti Raanta got their shots or will be getting their chances to be No. 1 guys this year. Marc-Andre Fleury generously accepted becoming the face of the Vegas Golden Knights.

It doesn’t exactly make for a sellers’ market for the few teams who might want to part ways with goalies.

Petr Mrazek‘s mess with the Detroit Red Wings is the most pressing example, and considering the fact that he’s only 25, acquiring him could be a boon for another team, at least in a scenario (injuries and/or poor play) would call for such an acquisition.

What if the Red Wings would ask for too much? What if a team would, instead, like to monitor a diamond in the rough for the summer of 2018?

Halak could still be very viable

Jaroslav Halak should be on plenty of radars, especially if he gets his wish for a fresh start with the New York Islanders in 2017-18, as NHL.com’s Brian Compton reports.

“Obviously, last season was kind of a strange season, not only for me but for a lot of guys,” Halak said. “Now it’s a fresh start for everybody. But ultimately, it’s going to come down to our start too. Last season, we all know we had a bad start. We just need to make sure that we pick up points at the beginning of the season because that hurt us at the end.”

The Islanders have incentive to give Halak a chance, whether it would be to pump up his trade value or if Thomas Greiss struggles/gets hurt.

It would also be foolish to worry too much about Halak’s time in the AHL, especially considering how well he played for the Islanders late last season. Check out his split stats in March and April; Halak gave the Isles at least some hope to make an unlikely playoff push.

At 32, Halak doesn’t boast the same dreamy potential of Mrazek, yet he’s only a year older than Greiss.

The price could be right

With a nice .917 career save percentage and some playoff heroics in his past, Halak is the sort of goalie a team could call upon if their top guy falters or gets hurt. If a move were to happen around the trade deadline, his $4.5 million cap hit would be less of a problem.

On the other hand, if a team needed Halak earlier, the Islanders could conceivably retain some of his salary, especially if it allowed them to add a piece that might improve their team in other areas (and maybe help keep John Tavares happy?).

The goalie market could be interesting in the summer of 2018 if Mrazek and even Craig Anderson join the UFA ranks. Halak stands as a sneaky-interesting prospect then, but possibly sooner, for a team that might want to spend less (in assets via a trade or in actual money in free agency).

Predators tab Roman Josi as new captain, call him ‘our Roger Federer’

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The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.

Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:

As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.

If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.

Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.

At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.

That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.

Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.

Awful injury news for Blues’ Bouwmeester, Sanford

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Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.

As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.

The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.

Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.

Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.

It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.

This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.

You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these: