Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Zach Werenski named NHL rookie of the year finalists

Posted by    |    April 20th, 2017 at 6:21 pm

The Calder Trophy race was thrilling this season.

The top two picks from last summer’s NHL entry draft are rookie of the year finalists a year later.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine were named Calder Trophy nominees on Thursday, joining Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski.

Matthews was taken first overall in the 2016 draft, with Laine going a pick later to Winnipeg.

The 19-year-old Leafs center tied for second in the NHL with 40 goals, the first player to register 40 goals in his rookie year since Alex Ovechkin (52) in 2005-06. He finished with 69 points, setting a Maple Leafs rookie record that had stood since 1983. Matthews roared onto the scene by scoring four goals on the first six shots of his career in the Leafs’ season opener.

Patrik Laine isn’t a distant second in this race, though. The 19-year-old winger put up 64 points and led Winnipeg with 36 goals. Only seven 18-year-old players in NHL history have scored more in one season, and none have done it since Sidney Crosby in 2005-06.

Werenski emerged as a lynchpin for the Columbus Blue Jackets in his rookie year, leading all rookie defensemen with 47 points while logging over 20 minutes a night. By the end of the year he was arguably the Blue Jackets best defenseman, though a recent facial fracture ended his season prematurely.