For the first time since 2008, one team will have two players named finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, along with Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon were named the top three first-year players this season.
The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Tyler Johnson - 24G, 26A 50Pts
Johnson has had time to hone his skills the past two seasons in the AHL, which Palat and MacKinnon haven't, gives him both an advantage and disadvantage. Johnson, the first undrafted Calder Finalist since 1991, scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He also led NHL rookies in ice time with 1,540:20 minutes and face offs with 1,275.
Nathan MacKinnon - 24G, 39A 63Pts
The Avalanche hit it big this year with the 2013 NHL Draft's first pick. MacKinnon led NHL rookies in almost every stat line with 24 goals, 39 assists, 63 points, 8 goals on the power play, 5 game winners, and 241 shots. MacKinnon joins teammates Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Paul Stastny as the Avalanche's fourth Calder Finalist in eight years.
Ondrej Palat - 23G, 36A 59Pts
Palat led first year players in Plus/Minus at a +32, was named January and March Rookie of the Month and fell just three points short of setting the Lightning record for points by a rookie. The 208th overall pick in 2011, also led all first-year players in scoring after January 1st with 44 points in 42 games.
Prediction: It'll come down to Palat or MacKinnon, but with comparisons to Sidney Crosby after one season of work, Nathan MacKinnon will be the Calder Memorial Trophy winner for 2013-2014.