Let the campaign begin, officially, Canucks fans.
To the surprise of nobody, Quinn Hughes has been nominated for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Hughes was among three finalists named, along with Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar and Chicago Blackhawks left winger Dominik Kubalik, but this is a two-horse race.
Hughes and Makar finished 1-2 in rookie scoring, an oddity given both players are defencemen. The 20-year-old Canucks rookie became just the third defenceman in the NHL’s modern era to lead all first-year players in scoring, joining Brian Leetch (1988-89) and Bobby Orr (1966-67).
Hughes has the edge in points (53), assists (45), and power play points (25), while Makar had more goals (12), even strength points (31), and points per game (0.88).
Makar got most of the early-season hype, though Hughes gained momentum as the year went on.
This is the third straight year that a Canucks rookie has been nominated for the Calder Trophy, with Brock Boeser finishing as a runner up in 2018 and Elias Pettersson winning it last year. It’s the first time since 1971 that a team has produced a Calder Trophy finalist in three straight seasons.
The pandemic interrupted what was likely going to be a record-breaking season for Hughes, who was just four points back of Dale Tallon for the Canucks rookie defenceman points (56) record with 13 games to go. He even had a chance to potentially challenge Pettersson’s rookie points (66) record.
The Calder Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The winner will be announced during the Conference Finals in September.