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Couture, Grabner, Skinner are finalists to be NHL rookie of the year

NEW YORK, N.Y. - It was all about goal-scoring in the race for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

San Jose Sharks centre Logan Couture, New York Islanders right-wing Michael Grabner and Carolina Hurricanes centre Jeff Skinner were named Tuesday as finalists for the prize.

They received the most votes from members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. The winner will be announced during the NHL awards ceremony on June 22 in Las Vegas.

All three scored 30 or more goals, which put them at the top of a strong rookie class that included defencemen John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks and Kevin Shattenkirk of the Colorado Avalanche as well as goaltender Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks.

That's not to mention fine rookie campaigns from forwards Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers (21 goals, 24 assists), Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers (22 goals, 20 assists) and Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres (20 goals, 29 assists).

"When you look at the stats, there are a lot of great rookies this year," Grabner said on the Islanders' website. "Goalies, D-men, they're all up there, so I think it's a tough rookie class and there are going to be a lot of young good players for the next couple years."

It was the first season with as many 30-goal rookies since 2005-06 when Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Petr Prucha and Marek Svatos reached that figure.

The 18-year-old Skinner, the NHL's youngest player drafted seventh overall last June, led all rookies with 63 points, which was second only to captain Eric Staal on the Hurricanes. The Markham, Ont., native scored 31 goals.

The 22-year-old Couture scored 32 goals and had 56 points to place sixth in scoring on the powerhouse Sharks. The Guelph, Ont., native was also plus-18. Seven of his eight game-winning goals came on the road, an NHL rookie record.

Grabner was placed on waivers out of training camp by the Florida Panthers. The 23-year-old Austrian was claimed Oct. 5 and went on to lead the Islanders with 34 goals, six of them short-handed. He had a run of 16 goals in 15 games from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15. He also won the fastest-skater contest at the superskills competition on all-star weekend.

Both Carlson and Subban ended the season playing on his team's top defence pair and both averaged more than 22 minutes per game. Crawford went 33-18-6 with a 2.30 goals-against average as Antti Niemi's successor in Chicago. James Reimer posted 20 wins in only 37 games for Toronto.

Finalists for the other major awards will be announced over the next two weeks.

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