It’s widely expected that Mathew Barzal will collect the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie at the league’s awards show in Las Vegas on June 20, becoming the first Islander to earn the honor in 21 years.
Barzal took the final step toward making that a reality Sunday when he was announced as one of three Calder finalists in voting among members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
The Canucks’ Brock Boeser and the Coyotes’ Clayton Keller also are finalists. Barzal, centering the Islanders’ second line, led all NHL rookies with 85 points, 20 more than Keller.
Barzal, selected 16th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, surpassed the organization’s expectations with 22 goals and 63 assists in 82 games. He matched Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier’s franchise record for assists by a rookie.
If Barzal does win the Calder, he will be the fifth Islander to earn the award after Denis Potvin (1974), Trottier (1976), Mike Bossy (1978) and Bryan Berard (1997). Potvin, Trottier and Bossy are in the Hall of Fame.
“It’d be pretty good,” Barzal said April 9 about possibly winning the Calder. “It’s a pretty good group of guys that have won that, some Hall of Famers. If I could be in that conversation, it would be pretty special.”
Boeser, 21, a right wing, was having an impressive rookie year until an injury cut short his season. He finished with 29 goals and 26 assists in 62 games, missing the last five weeks of the season after injuring his back in the final seconds of regulation in the Canucks’ 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Isles on March 5. Boeser went to check Cal Clutterbuck but instead fell awkwardly into the open door to the team’s bench.
Keller, 19, a center, had 23 goals and 42 assists in 82 games.