It seemed to be a given for most of the 2019-20 season that a defenseman was going to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year.
On Monday we found out that it is Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar that is taking home that honor.
He was announced as the winner of the 2020 Calder Trophy, wrapping up a spectacular rookie campaign that saw him finish with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games, while becoming one of the top blue liners for a Stanley Cup contender.
Makar and Hughes were considered the top two contenders for most of the season.
Makar burst onto the NHL scene during the 2018-19 playoffs with the Avalanche and it was obvious from day one that he had a chance to become a star. That postseason performance made him the front-runner for the Calder Trophy entering this season, and he more than matched the hype.
Even though the Avalanche’s postseason came to a surprising end in the Second Round against the Dallas Stars, they have still put together one of the league’s best teams. While their trio of top-line forwards (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog) get most of the attention, the emergence of Makar and Sam Girard (as well as the eventual arrival of Bowen Byram) on defense has become just as significant for their future.
Makar is only the fourth defenseman in the past 20 years to win the award, and the first to do since Aaron Ekblad won it for the Florida Panthers during the 2014-15 season.
He is also the fourth member of the Avalanche to win the award since the franchise relocated from Quebec before the 1995-96 season. He joins Chris Drury, Landeskog, and MacKinnon on that list.
Here’s how the Professional Hockey Writers Association voted: