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.

 

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.