This year the Penguins stacked their chances with both forwards Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal up for the NHL rookie award along with Colorado Avalanche centre Paul Stastny and to no one’s surprise Malkin was the choice from selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Malkin walked away with it, gaining 1,357 points in voting. Stastny was second with 965 points and Staal third with 565 points.
The 20-year-old Malkin lived up to the hype, leading all NHL rookies in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85). And he didn’t waste any time making an impact, becoming the first player in 89 years to tally goals in each of his first six NHL games.
He’s the first Penguin to win the Calder since Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux walked away with the honour in 1985.
Malkin, Pittsburgh’s choice, second overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft, was back home in Russia and wasn’t on hand to pick up the award. His coach Michel Therrien accepted on his behalf.
Malkin’s teammate Staal was on hand and was certainly a worthy candidate, setting an NHL rookie record with seven shorthanded goals while also tying for second among rookie goal-scorers with 29. And he’s only 18.
Stastny had a huge second half to put pressure on Malkin, setting a rookie record with a 20-game consecutive points streak from Feb. 3 to March 17. The son of the legendary Peter Stastny placed second in rookie scoring with 78 points (28-50).
Centre Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings was fourth in rookie voting with 417 points, followed by Anaheim Ducks winger Dustin Penner in fifth at 107 points.