The NHL has announced Kirill Kaprizov, Jason Robertson and Alex Nedeljkovic as the Calder Trophy nominees. The trophy is awarded annually to the most accomplished player in his first year in the National Hockey League. Cale Makar was the winner in 2020.
Congratulations to the Calder Trophy finalists! 🙌
— NHL (@NHL) June 3, 2021
NHL Announces Calder Trophy Finalists
The Calder Trophy nominees must not have been easy choices. The 2020-21 season is filled with highly skilled newcomers and the list changed a lot throughout the season. However, there was one name that was constantly in the conversation: Kirill Kaprizov.
Kaprizov arrived in the NHL after five seasons in the KHL. He is the living proof that sometimes all you need is patience to find your next star, as the 24-year-old was Minnesota’s fifth-round pick in 2015. The Minnesota Wild rookie being a finalist doesn’t come as a surprise, as he had a successful first year. He scored 27 goals and 51 points in 55 games in the regular season. Kaprizov also played in the first round of the playoffs, posting two goals and three points in seven games. He led all rookies and all Minnesota’s skaters in goals and points. If he wins the Calder, he will be the first Minnesota rookie to ever receive the award.
Jason Robertson is the Dallas Stars’ newest star. The American player has become a key piece for the team when Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov were absent. Robertson finished the regular season with 17 goals and 29 assists for 46 points in 54 games and solidified his name as a Calder contender. If he wins rookie of the year, Robertson will be the first player in franchise history to win the Calder.
Nedeljkovic is probably the biggest surprise on this list considering his shaky path this season. The Carolina Hurricanes goaltender started the year in the taxi squad and was waived right before the season started. His first game for the Canes this year came on February 8, after Petr Mrazek got hurt on January 30. The rookie has been their starter for the playoffs with Mzarek as his backup, and he has been shining. Nedeljkovic led all goaltenders with 1.90 goals-against average during the regular season. The nomination may be a surprise for some, but it is as deserved as the two others.