Today, the NHL announced its top three finalists for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top rookie.
To nobody’s surprise, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes is up for the award, along with standout defenceman Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik.
It’s all but guaranteed that the final results will result in either Hughes or Makar as the finalist/runner up combo, with Kubalik coming in third.
Here are four fast — and certainly fun — facts about Hughes’ Calder Trophy Nomination and impressive rookie campaign:
1. The Canucks are the first team since 1971 to have a Calder finalist in three straight seasons
Brock Boeser didn’t win the award back in 2017-18, but had he stayed healthy and avoided a season ending — and rather scary looking — back injury with a little over a month remaining in the season, the end result may have been different. But alas, it was Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders who walked away with the hardware, with Boeser coming in as the runner-up.
Then in 2018-19, well, you don’t need me to tell you that Elias Pettersson absolutely burst onto the scene and was almost a lock to win the Calder after scoring 10 goals in the first 10 games of his rookie campaign. Jordan Binnington’s meteoric rise that began in December made things interesting, but in the end, it was Pettersson who rightfully captured the first Calder win by a Canucks rookie since Pavel Bure.
This year with Hughes, the Canucks become the first team since the New York Rangers (1969-71) to have three finalists in three consecutive years.
2. Hughes is just the third defenceman to lead the rookie scoring race since 1966-67
Seriously, if there wasn’t an almost equally impressive rookie defenceman playing this season, Hughes would simply run away with the Calder Trophy. The fact that this is close is a testament to both Makar and Hughes’ abilities, and one can only imagine that these two will be battling each other for Norris Trophies for years to come after their impressive rookie campaigns.
While Makar may have the upper hand on Hughes when it comes to points per game, Hughes’ 53 points in 68 games officially puts him at the top of the rookie scoring race.
Hughes is just the third d-man to pull this off since Brian Leetch (1988-89 New York Rangers) and Bobby Orr (1966-67 Boston Bruins) in the NHL’s modern era. An impressive feat no doubt.
3. Hughes scored the most points by any rookie defenceman since Nick Lidstrom
Everybody knows the name of Nicklas Lidstrom. The man went on to win seven Norris Trophies over the span of his career, and in 1991-92, tallied 60 points.
No rookie defenceman has come as close to reaching 60 as Hughes has, and this next fact will make you wonder if Hughes would have broken the record had Covid-19 not brought the season to a screeching halt back in March with over 10 games remaining.
4. Hughes broke the Canucks’ rookie assists record and was on pace to come close to the overall rookie scoring record
No, you didn’t read that wrong. Not only did Hughes’ 45 assists beat Dale Tallon’s record of 42 in his rookie campaign, Hughes was also on pace to finish just two points shy of Elias Pettersson’s rookie scoring record of 66 points.
That record was set last year and it took almost 30 years for a Canuck rookie to break the previous record set by Pavel Bure back in the 1991-92 season, where he tallied 60 total points.
Hughes was on pace to finish with 64, and maybe could have caught up to Pettersson’s 66 had he been given the chance. It’s not likely, but it’s not necessarily out of the question either, given how well Hughes played this year.