LAS VEGAS – Steve Mason repeatedly shut the door on NHL teams during his rookie season so it was only fitting that he did the same to his competitors for the Calder Trophy.
The Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender was named rookie of the year at the NHL awards on Thursday, edging Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks and Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks. Voting was conducted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
Mason had a league-leading 10 shutouts this season and helped lift the Blue Jackets to the first playoff berth in franchise history.
The 21-year-old wasn’t even expected to be the team’s No. 1 goaltender but got a chance when Pascal Leclaire went down to injury early in the year. He never looked back.
“I never dreamed that it would have come this early,” said Mason.
Mason finished second in the NHL with a 2.29 goals-against average while also putting up a tidy .916 save percentage. His record was 33-20-7.
That was enough to edge Ryan and Versteeg – two players that took some time to come into their own.
Ryan led all rookie scorers with 31 goals and 57 points in 64 games. It’s hard to believe that the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft – right behind Sidney Crosby – started the season in the American Hockey League.
Versteeg was second in rookie scoring, putting up 22 goals and 53 points during his first full season with the Blackhawks.
But Mason made the biggest impact among the freshmen.
He was able to list several players that had won the award before him off the top of his head. It was a big thrill to follow in their footsteps.
“You only get one year to win it,” said Mason.