Calder Trophy Finalists: Matthews vs. Laine vs. Werenski

BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 24: Auston Matthews, left, selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Patrik Laine, right, selected second overall by the Winnipeg Jets, pose for a portrait during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets are your finalists for the 2016-17 Calder Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.”

The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association votes on this award.

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So will we get our first rookie of the year from a Canadian team since Daniel Alfredsson in 1996? Or will the Blue Jackets get another rookie of the year winner?

Why Auston Matthews Deserves The Calder

From the NHL:

Matthews, the top pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, paced rookies with 40 goals and 69 points while appearing in all 82 games. His 40 goals also shared second place in the entire League, highlighted by a historic debut in which he became the first player in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to score four times in his first game. Matthews, who set franchise rookie records for goals and points, also ranked in the top 10 among first-year players in game-winning goals (1st; 8), shots on goal (1st; 279), power-play points (t-2nd; 21), power-play goals (3rd; 8), power-play assists (4th; 13), shooting percentage (7th; 14.3%) and assists (7th; 29). The 19-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native is Toronto’s first Calder Trophy finalist since 1992-93 (Felix Potvin) and is vying to become the first Maple Leaf to win the award since 1965-66 (Brit Selby).

Last June’s No. 1 overall pick lead the Maple Leafs and all NHL rookies in goals scored and points. He also finished in the top 20 of all scorers averaging 0.84 points per game in 17:37 of ice time per game. He had a memorable debut scoring four goals on opening night and was a pretty consistent point-getter throughout the season.

Why Patrik Laine Deserves The Calder

From the NHL:

Laine, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft, ranked second among rookies with 36 goals and 64 points in 73 games – both single-season franchise records for a first-year player. He also led rookies in shooting percentage (17.6%) and shared first place in power-play goals (9), while placing in the top 10 in game-winning goals (t-3rd; 5), shots on goal (4th; 204), power-play points (6th; 14) and assists (8th; 28). Laine became the first player in NHL history to post three hat tricks prior to his 19th birthday as well as the first rookie (at any age) to notch three hat tricks in one season since 1992-93. The Tampere, Finland, native – who celebrated his 19th birthday Wednesday – is the third Calder Trophy finalist in Jets/Thrashers history; Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk finished first and second, respectively, in voting in 2001-02.

Laine finished second behind Matthews in rookie scoring but posted a higher points per game average (0.88) in 73 games played. At points during the season it looked like Laine had a slight lead over Matthews in this race. What will the voters think?

Why Zach Werenski Deserves The Calder

From the NHL:

Werenski, the eighth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, led rookie defensemen in goals (11), assists (36) and points (47) in 78 games. He also paced all rookies with a +17 rating, while ranking in the top 10 among first-year players in power-play assists (t-1st; 17), power-play points (t-2nd; 21), assists (3rd; 36), shots on goal (5th; 188), points (7th; 47) and power-play goals (t-8th; 4). At age 19, Werenski registered the sixth-most points by a teenage defenseman in his rookie NHL season. He also set franchise rookie records for assists and points in one season, while collecting the second-most points by a blueliner (rookie or veteran) in club history. The Grosse Pointe, Mich., native is Columbus’ first Calder Trophy finalist since 2008-09, when Steve Mason became the first player in team history to win the award.

The Blue Jackets defenseman was fifth among blue liners in ice time, averaging 20:54 per game while being a major asset to Columbus’ power play.

Who Wins The Calder

Auston Matthews. He led all rookies in scoring and has had the hype train since before he was drafted last June. His impact on Toronto was started immediately from his first game through game No. 82 as he helped the Maple Leafs return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Our Ballot (in alphabetical order)

Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

Who Should Win The Calder

Matthews. In a very good rookie class, Matthews was always the favorite, despite some competition from Laine, who ended with 36 goals and 64 points in 73 games. We’re curious when the voting totals are released just how much love Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins received.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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