The award goes to the top rookie in the NHL. The finalists are voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The winner will be announced at the 2016 NHL Awards on June 22, which will take place in Las Vegas.
Gostisbehere was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on November 14, when Mark Streit got hurt. The Flyers were 5-8-3 through 16 games before the dyamic defenseman entered the lineup. From November 15 to the end of the season, the Flyers were 34-19-11 in 64 games played. The puck-moving defenseman had a huge impact on the Flyers and helped them to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 64 regular season games, Gostisbehere had 17 goals, 29 assists, 46 points and averaged 20:05 of ice time per game.
Gostisbehere’s 17 goals were the most by a rookie defenseman since Dion Phaneuf had 20 during the 2005-06 season. He led all rookie defensemen in goals (17), assists (29), points (46), power play goals (8) and power play points (22). His four game-winning goals in overtime set a NHL rookie record and tied the record for the most ever in a season by a defenseman. Gostisbehere had a 15-game point streak which was a league record for rookie defenseman and was a Flyers record for rookies. Chris Chelios was the last defenseman to have a 15-game point streak in the 1995-96 season. Gostisbehere is the first Calder Finalist for the Flyers since Mikael Renberg in 1994. The Flyers have never had a Calder Memorial Trophy Winner.
McDavid was the best rookie despite only playing in 45 games due to injury. He missed three months with a fractured clavicle. In 45 games, McDavid had 16 goals, 32 assists, 48 points, five game-winning goals and averaged 18:03 of ice time per game. His 1.07 points per game was third among all players to skate in at least 40 games, just behind Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn. He won the NHL Rookie of the Month three times in October, February, and March.
McDavid had 12 multipoint games included a five point game on February 11 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished fourth among rookies in goals (16) and assists (32) despite missing three months of the season. This is the first time the Oilers have had a Calder Finalist since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2012. The Oilers have never had a Calder Trophy winner.
Panarin was the most consistent rookie and played in the most games among the finalists. In 80 games, Panarin had 30 goals, 47 assists, 77 points, eight power play goals, and averaged 18:31 of ice time per game. His 77 points led all rookies and he finished ninth in NHL scoring overall. The forward led all rookies in goals (30), assists (47), points (77), power play points (24) and game-winning goals (7).
The one thing that may have deterred voters from picking Panarin as the winner is that he had the benefit of playing with the NHL’s leading scorer, Patrick Kane all season. He played at even strength and on the power play with Kane. Panarin is the fourth Blackhawks rookie to score 30 goals. The 77 points scored is the most by a rookie since the 72 points that Kane had in the 2007-08 season. Panarin is looking to become the Blackhawks’ first rookie to win the Calder Trophy since Kane did so in 2008.