Nathan MacKinnon, the NHL’s top-scoring freshman this season, has some competition in the form of Tampa Bay duo Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat for rookie of the year honours.
The trio was announced Wednesday as finalists for the Calder Trophy, which will be awarded June 24 in Las Vegas.
The 18-year-old MacKinnon, from Halifax, led all first-year players this season in points (63), goals (24, tied), assists (39), power-play goals (eight), game-winning goals (five, tied) and shots (241).
MacKinnon, who was drafted first overall last summer, also earned at least a point in 13 consecutive games to break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for the longest single-season point streak by a player age 18 or younger.
He is the fourth Avalanche player in the past eight years to be nominated for the Calder Trophy, joining Paul Stastny (second in 2007), Matt Duchene (third in 2010) and Gabriel Landeskog (first in 2012).
Johnson, 23, set a Lightning rookie record with 24 goals to match MacKinnon. The centre from Spokane, Wash., also tied for the overall league lead with five shorthanded goals. MacKinnon also added five power-play markers, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to record five of each in one season (Dennis Maruk in 1975-76).
Palat, a 23-year-old left-winger from Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic, ranked second in rookie scoring this season with 23 goals and 36 assists for 59 points, three shy of former Lightning Brad Richards’s club rookie mark.
From Jan. 1, Palat led all first-year NHLers in scoring with 44 points on 17 goals and 27 assists.
He also posted 14 multi-point games and was named rookie of the month in January and March.