Kirill Kaprizov of the Wild, Alex Nedeljkovic of the Hurricanes, and Jason Robertson of the Stars have been announced as the finalists for the 2020-21 Calder Trophy. The award is given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.”
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote on the Calder Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar won it last season.
The winners of all of the 2021 NHL Awards will be announced during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]
The case for Kirill Kaprizov: The electric Russian forward was worth the wait for the Wild. Kaprizov led all rookie and Wild players in goals (27) and points (51). According to the NHL, he joined Auston Matthews (2016-17, Maple Leafs), Filip Forsberg (2014-15, Predators) and Trent Hunter (2003-04, Islanders) as rookies since 1993-94 to lead their team in scoring and reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The shortened season didn’t stop Kaprizov from also setting franchise rookie records in goals, assists (24), points, and power play goals (8). A win would make him the first rookie of the year in Wild franchise history.
The case for Alex Nedeljkovic: The Hurricanes netminder had an impressive campaign after beginning the season on their taxi squad. Nedeljkovic helped the Canes to 15 wins in his 23 starts, with three coming via shutout. He also led all rookie goaltenders (with at least 20 GP) in even strength save percentage (.938). He could become the franchise’s second Calder winner (Jeff Skinner, 2011) since moving to Carolina.
The case for Jason Robertson: In the absence of key offense players, Robertson stepped up in a big way for the Stars this season. He finished second on the team in scoring and among all NHL rookies with 45 points. He also tied for second among rookies with 17 goals, 10 behind Kaprizov. Robertson topped rookies in assists (28), even strength points (39) and was second in EV goals (16). His nine-game point streak was the longest by any NHL rookie since Clayton Keller‘s 10-gamer in 2017-18. He would become the franchise’s first rookie of the year should he win award.
NHL Award finalists announcement schedule:
Vezina Trophy: Marc-Andre Fleury, Philipp Grubauer, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Ted Lindsay Award: Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid
Friday, June 4: King Clancy Memorial Trophy
Saturday, June 5: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Sunday, June 6: Frank J. Selke Trophy
Monday, June 7: Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
Tuesday, June 8: Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Wednesday, June 9: James Norris Memorial Trophy
Thursday, June 10: Hart Memorial Trophy
Friday, June 11: Jack Adams Award
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.