Everyone loves when a young, exciting star comes into the NHL and dominates right out of the gate. The Calder Memorial Trophy is given out each year to the league’s best rookie, with many winners later taking home other hardware, such as the league’s Hart Memorial Trophy. Which Calder Trophy-winning seasons have been the best in recent memory?
13. Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers – 2012-13
The lockout-shortened 2012-13 NHL campaign will always seem a bit weird when looking back and comparing it to other seasons. That season’s Calder Trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau, played all 48 games but scored just 14 goals and 31 points. Even stretched out over an 82-game pace, that’s just 24 goals and 53 points across a full season. On top of that, he registered a minus-15 rating while skating just a touch under 17 minutes per game.
12. Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche – 2011-12
The first of two Colorado Avalanche forwards on this list, Gabriel Landeskog played all 82 games at the NHL level his rookie year just months after being the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Landeskog tied Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall selection that same season, with 52 points for the rookie lead, but the Avalanche winger notched 22 goals, four more than his fellow first-year forward. The 19-year-old also recorded an impressive plus-20 rating.
11. Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers – 2014-15
Just two years after his Florida Panther teammate Huberdeau took home the Calder Trophy, Aaron Ekblad stepped up and brought it back to the Sunshine State. The Canadian blueliner was selected first overall in the 104 NHL Draft and went straight to the league, sniping 12 goals and 39 points with a plus-12 rating. His rookie campaign remains as the highest point total he’s recorded at the NHL level.
10. Tyler Myers – Buffalo Sabres – 2009-10
At 19 years old, Tyler Myers became the first defenseman to take home the Calder Trophy since Barret Jackman during the 2002-03 NHL campaign. Myers tallied 11 goals and 48 points during his rookie season and both are still the highest totals he’s produced in a single season. The massive 6-foot-8 blueliner also notched 133 blocked shots and 89 hits.
9. Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks – 2007-08
Like several others on this list, Patrick Kane came into the NHL immediately after being drafted. The top pick in the 2007 NHL Draft scored 21 goals and 72 points during his terrific rookie campaign. He narrowly led all rookies in scoring but was the only one to eclipse the 70-point milestone. That same season, fellow Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews finished third in Calder Trophy voting after scoring 54 points.
8. Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanches – 2013-14
Another top draft choice, Nathan MacKinnon was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and lived up to expectations early. The 18-year-old Nova Scotian collected 24 goals and 63 points, the most he would score until his fifth NHL season. MacKinnon took home the Calder Trophy just two seasons after his current linemate Landeskog, outscoring him by 11 points in their respective rookie campaigns.
7. Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes – 2010-11
Selected seventh overall in the 2010 NHL Draft behind names such as Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner’s Calder Trophy victory was a bit surprising. The 18-year-old winger was the lone rookie to surpass the 60-point plateau that season but finished third among rookies with 31 goals scored. Skinner’s 63 points remains a career-high, but he’s reached that exact total three times.
6. Artemi Panarin – Chicago Blackhawks – 2015-16
Artemi Panarin certainly didn’t have a standard rookie season. The Russian winger didn’t come to North America until he was 24 years old, becoming the oldest Calder Trophy winner since Evgeni Nabokov in 2000-01. Still, Panarin was outstanding, collecting 30 goals and 77 points before adding seven points in seven postseason contests. That same season, Conor McDavid finished third after scoring 48 points in just 45 games and likely would’ve taken the award home if not for suffering an injury.
5. Steve Mason – Columbus Blue Jackets – 2008-09
Steve Mason’s Calder-winning 2008-09 campaign was good enough to land him a second-place finish in the Vezina Trophy voting as well. The 22-year-old led the NHL with a ridiculous 10 shutouts that season, giving him a 2.29 goals-against average and .916 save percentage alongside a 33-20-7 record. More impressively, no netminder has taken home the Calder since then and just one other goalie has even finished in the top three. That will change this season as Jordan Binnington has earned a top-three finish and could very likely win the award.
4. Matthew Barzal – New York Islanders – 2017-18
The reigning Calder Trophy winner, Matthew Barzal had two games of NHL action prior to his first full season with the New York Islanders. He was held without a point in those contests but put the league on notice the following year. The 20-year-old center ran away with the rookie scoring race, totaling 22 goals and 85 points, beating second-leading scorer Clayton Keller by 20 points. Barzal was the first rookie to surpass the 80-point mark since Evgeni Malkin during his Calder-winning 2006-07 season.
3. Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs – 2016-17
The Toronto Maple Leafs were looking for a new face of the franchise during the 2016 NHL Draft and got just that in Auston Matthews with the top pick. The fresh 19-year-old lived up to all the hype, scoring 40 goals (including an NHL-best 32 at even strength) and 69 points. Matthews cemented himself as one of the league’s young stars and he’s continued to prove it since. He was the first rookie to score 40 or more goals in over a decade, but more on that later.
2. Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins – 2006-07
Malkin became the second consecutive Russian forward to take home the award, following in the footsteps of Alex Ovechkin. The 20-year-old rookie notched 33 goals and 85 points in his first season playing North American hockey. It was actually the same season that Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby won his first Hart Memorial award. Of course, those two would go on to become one of the best duos in NHL history, winning plenty of hardware and a few Stanley Cup titles.
1. Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals – 2005-06
Ovechkin’s rookie campaign set the path for the rest of his career as an elite goal scorer and one of the game’s top skaters for over a decade. The big-bodied Russian became the first rookie to eclipse the 100-point mark since Teemu Selanne during the 1992-93 campaign. Ovechkin racked up 52 goals and 106 points on the year, narrowly edging out Sidney Crosby’s 102 points for the rookie lead that season. Since then, no rookie has reached the century mark for points or the 50-goal plateau. At this point, there may not be a rookie like Ovechkin for a long time.