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Breaking: Calder Trophy finalists announced

Barzal is the clear frontrunner here, right? Any chance the Islanders rookies doesn’t win this?

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The NHL has officially named this year’s nominees for the Calder Trophy as the the season’s best rookie. Unsurprisingly, New York Islanders superstar in the making Matthew Barzal leads the pack after an outstanding 22 goal, 85 point rookie season. Here’s the lowdown on Barzal’s 2017-18 campaign, courtesy of NHL.com:

Barzal was chosen by the Islanders with the No. 16 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old center led all rookies with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists), 20 more than the next closest player (Keller). He's the seventh rookie in League history with at least 20 points and 60 assists in one season and the first since Sidney Crosby with the Pittsburgh Penguins (102 points; 39 goals, 63 assists) in 2005-06. Barzal had three five-point games this season, making him the second rookie to do so; the other was Joe Malone with the Montreal Canadiens in 1917-18, the NHL's first season. He would be the fifth player in Islanders history to win the Calder and first since defenseman Bryan Berard in 1996-97.

Vancouver Canucks sniper Brock Boeser also receives a nomination based on his dominant 29 goal season. The 21 year old winger tallied 55 goes in just 62 games this season and was pushing Barzal for the top spot until he was sidelined with a back injury for the season’s final 16 games. Again, here’s the lowdown on his season courtesy of NHL.com:

Boeser, a 21-year-old right wing, was selected by the Canucks with the No. 23 pick in 2015. He finished second among rookies in goals (29) and fifth in points (55) in 62 games; he missed the final 16 games of the season because of a back injury sustained in a game against the Islanders on March 5. Two Canucks rookies have scored more goals in one season: Pavel Bure (34 in 1991-92) and Trevor Linden (30 in 1988-89). Boeser, the MVP of the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game, would be the first Vancouver player since Bure in 1992 to win the Calder and the second since the franchise entered the NHL in 1970.

The final nominee is Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller. The former 7th overall selection tallied a remarkable 23 goals and 65 points this season, good enough for the team lead at just 19 years old. Here’s his rundown:

Keller was the No. 7 pick of the Coyotes in the 2016 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old center had 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists), second among NHL rookies and most by a Coyotes rookie since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. His 10-game point streak (14 points; five goals, nine assists) from March 11-28 tied for the third-longest in franchise history. Keller joins Calder winners Dale Hawerchuk (1981-82) and Teemu Selanne (1992-93) as the third finalist in Jets/Coyotes history.

While it’s likely that Barzal takes the trophy at June’s NHL Awards, there’s no denying the fact that this year’s rookie crop is one for the ages. All three of these players have superstar quality and that’s saying nothing about other top rookies like Yanni Gourde, Kyle Connor, Nico Hischier, Alex DeBrincat and Will Butcher.