Ex-UMass star Cale Makar a finalist for Calder Trophy as the top rookie

  • Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes takes a shot on goal during the NHL hockey team's training camp, in Vancouver, Monday, July 13, 2020 (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) DARRYL DYCK

  • Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault gathers pucks during training camp at the NHL hockey team's practice facility Monday, July 13, 2020, in Voorhees, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) Matt Slocum

  • Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy talks with his players at the NHL hockey team's camp on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Colorado Avalanche's Cale Makar (8) brings the puck up the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) Karl B DeBlaker—AP

Published: 7/16/2020 11:57:38 AM
Modified: 7/16/2020 11:57:11 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Colorado Avalanche and ex-UMass defenseman Cale Makar is among the finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

Columbus’ John Tortorella, Philadelphia’s Alain Vigneault and Boston’s Bruce Cassidy were revealed Wednesday as the finalists for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

Makar joins Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes and Chicago’s Dominik Kubalik as finalists for the Calder Trophy. All three Jack Adams finalists come from the Eastern Conference, while all three Calder Finalists play in the West.

Makar took home the 2019 Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey. Makar led the Minutemen to the NCAA championship game.

“I haven’t really thought of the comparison between this and the Hobey Baker,” he said in a conference call Wednesday. “They’re two completely different things, they honor two completely different people. For me, it was such a great group of rookies this year. So I think we’re all honored to be on this call right now.”

Tortorella is the likeliest winner among coaches based on the Blue Jackets’ losses to free agency and injury, though Cassidy’s Bruins led the league by a wide margin when the season was halted. The Jack Adams is voted on by broadcasters.

“There’s a bunch this year,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. Pittsburgh coach “Mike Sullivan did a hell of a job, didn’t he, with what they faced? And all those guys are good, too. There’s a whole bunch of them.”

This is Vigneault’s fifth time as a finalist. He won the award with Vancouver in 2006-07.

“I’m extremely proud of our team,” Vigneault said. “They want to be here. They want to put in the work. They are looking forward to the challenge.”

Makar and Hughes could be separated by just a few votes of the Professional Hockey Writers Association after strong debuts as defensemen. Makar was second on the Avalanche in scoring with 50 points, while Hughes emerged as a key piece for the Canucks and put up 53 points in 68 games.

Makar, who burst onto the scene in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by scoring the winning goal in his league debut, continued to make waves in his first full NHL season, topping rookies with 0.88 points per game (12-38—50 in 57 GP). Only three other rookie blueliners in NHL history have averaged as many points per game in a single season (minimum: 50 GP).

The 21-year-old Calgary native is seeking to become the sixth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to capture the Calder Trophy and fourth since the franchise relocated to Colorado, following Nathan MacKinnon (2013-14), Gabriel Landeskog (2011-12) and Chris Drury (1998-99).

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