It's that time again. The NHL is beginning to hammer out the finalists for their annual awards and I do like to pick up on the ones that involve the players and have a look at them. The first one up is the Calder Trophy for the Rookie of the Year and it's a great batch of kids this season, all of which are pretty deserving of the nod.
First up is Jeff Skinner of the Hurricanes... he's the only teenager of the final three. A draft pick last Summer, going 7th overall in the 1st round, he meshed so well with the Hurricanes and took to the professional game like it was really meant to be. Skinner finished 54th in pool scoring this year, scoring 31 goals and 32 assists in all 82 games for the Hurricanes, leading them almost into the playoffs. For a number of stretches during the year, he was one of the only players really making a push for the team, which kept their heads above water for so long.
The second finalist hails from the only playoff team of the three, Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks. Couture has been floating around the Sharks organization for a few years now, but has always kept his rookie status by not playing in enough games in call ups. The 9th overall pick in 2007, now 22 years old, scored 32 goals and 24 assists in 79 games in San Jose, ranking him 88th in pool scoring this year. The kid also had good stretches with the Sharks, which eventually did lead them into the playoffs. He'll be a decent pool pick for years to come.
Finally from Long Island, Michael Grabner dazzled the East Coast with his blinding speed and some exceptional scoring skills. Grabner scored 34 goals and 18 assists in 76 games with the Islanders, this coming after being a waiver claim from Florida, just after training camp. Grabner finished the year 105th in pool scoring and has likely found a new long-term home with the Islanders. Another highlight of his year was winning the Fastest Skater competition at the All-Star Game festivities and without a doubt, he should be considered one of the fastest guys in the league.
If I had a vote for this trophy, I would likely would have given my 1st place vote to Grabner, since he did some amazing things on a team that likely would have been in last place overall, if it wasn't for his offensive exploits. Since I don't have a vote, I will wager that Skinner takes the award, as he was consistently impressive throughout the year.