The NHL announced today that Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov, Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson and Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic are finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Did New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin get snubbed?
Igor Shesterkin had a Calder worthy season
In 2020-21, Igor Shesterkin made 35 appearances winning 16 games. The 25 year-old was tied for 7th in the NHL in SV% (.916), and 11th in GAA (2.62) for all goalies having played at least 25 games. When you use that same minimum games played among rookies, Shesterkin was the top backstop in SV% and ranked second in GAA to Stars netminder Jake Oettinger (2.36).
Did I mention that Shesterkin also suffered a groin tear and still managed to return in top form?
Meanwhile, Carolina’s Alex Nedeljkovic only appeared in 23 games. There’s no denying his stats are impressive with a GAA of 1.90 and a SV% of .932. He even posted solid numbers against tough divisional opponents in Florida and Tampa, but the other five teams were below average at best.
In comparison, Shesterkin played in the toughest division in all of hockey. The Penguins, Capitals, Islanders, Bruins, and even the Flyers early on in the season were all considered Cup contenders. Also not taken into account is the fact that the Hurricanes themselves are considered one of the best teams in the league, especially defensively.
In my book, it feels like Shesterkin was overlooked based on his team missing the playoffs.
Calder Trophy Finalists
The award, which is presented to the league’s top rookie, is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The winner will be announced as part of the 2021 NHL Awards either during the conference finals or Stanley Cup Final.
Kaprizov, 24, led rookies in goals (27), points (51) and power-play goals (eight). His totals in goals, assists (24) and points served as records by a rookie in franchise history.
“Obviously, [winning] would make it a little bit easier, having such a tough season and leaving in the first round of the playoffs, obviously it would make things a little bit better,” Kaprizov said. “But honestly I’m the type of person that doesn’t really look for personal accolades. I’d much rather have the team win and have the team do better than my own personal gains.”NHL.com
Robertson, 21, led rookies in assists (28) and even-strength points (39). He also had 17 goals, 45 points and a team-best plus-13 rating in 51 games this season.
Nedeljkovic, 25, posted a 15-5-3 record and tied for the NHL rookie lead in shutouts (three) with Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders. Nedeljkovic’s 1.90 goals-against average and .932 save percentage led all league goaltenders who played at least 20 games.
— Field Level Media contributed to this article