CHICAGO – For many Blackhawks fans what happened on Monday was a formality for their very talented rookie forward.
Now the question is if Artemi Panarin will walk away with the NHL’s award for top first year player for the 2015-2016 season.
Monday night the NHL announced that the Blackhawks forward has been named a finalist for the league’s Calder Trophy given to “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.”
He is one of three finalists along with defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere of the Flyers and forward Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. The awards will be announced on Wednesday, June 22nd at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Panarin burst onto the scene in a big way during his first season with the Blackhawks. He led all NHL rookies in both goals (30) and assists (47). He’s the 4th Blackhawks rookie in franchise history to eclipse the 30-goal plateau in a season and may become the first Blackhawks player to win the award since Patrick Kane in 2007-2008.
Those stats figure to make Panarin the leading candidate for the award but the other two players have enjoyed solid seasons themselves.
McDavid’s season was hampered by injury which limited him to 45 games but the No. 1 overall pick was still outstanding for the Oilers. He scored 16 goals while dishing out 32 assists in that time and could become the first Oilers player to win the NHL’s version of the rookie of the year.
Gostisbehere, who was drafted in 2012, has made the most of his first year with the Flyers. He led rookie defenseman in six different scoring categories and had five game-winning goals in 64 games this season.