Lightning’s Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat named Calder Trophy finalists
TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson and winger Ondrej Palat were named two of the three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy on Wednesday, as announced by the NHL. The award is given ”to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.”
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon also was named a finalist.
Johnson and Palat became two surprise contributors for the Lightning in their run to 101 points in the regular season and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011. Tampa Bay is the first team with multiple finalists for the award since Chicago in 2008.
Johnson, 23, scored a Tampa Bay-rookie-record 24 goals, tying MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He tied for the overall league lead in shorthanded goals (five), and he had five power-play goals. Signed as a free agent by the Lightning in March 2011, he’s the first undrafted Calder Memorial Trophy finalist since Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour in 1991.
Palat, 23, finished second among rookie scorers with 23 goals, 36 assists and 59 points. He led all rookies in scoring after Jan. 1 with 17 goals and 27 assists in 42 games played. He was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for January and March.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the award at the end of the regular season. The winner will be announced June 24 in Las Vegas.