On Wednesday it was announced that Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the best rookie in the NHL. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, both of the Tampa Bay Lightning, were the other finalists for the award.
Tyler Johnson is 23 years old, and his 24 goals this year tied the young American with Nathan MacKinnon for the league lead. Johnson was third in points with 50 after playing in all 82 games, and was able to knock in four game-winning goals, good enough for fourth among rookies. Johnson’s 181 shots also landed him at fourth place, but his 13.9 shot percentage is nothing to scoff at.
Ondrej Palat is another 23-year-old rookie from the Czech Republic who, along with teammate Tyler Johnson, will be tearing up Eastern Conference teams for years to come. Palat scored 23 goals this season which was good enough for third place, and had 59 points, placing him just behind MacKinnon. Palat’s plus/minus rating of +32 was the highest rating of any rookie in the league this year, and the highest since Blake Wheeler posted a +36 rating in 2008-09 for the Boston Bruins.
MacKinnon is a shooting machine. During the season MacKinnon registered 241 shots, which not only led all Avalanche players, but also led all rookies. MacKinnon is tied for the lead by rookies in goals with 24, but also had the most assists (39) and most points with 63. The 18-year-old Canadian played in all 82 games and had the most power-play goals (8) and game-winning goals (5) among rookies. MacKinnon also broke a record held by Wayne Gretzky (The Great One) for longest consecutive point streak by an 18-year-old; MacKinnon’s streak reached 13 games.