As expected, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has been named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best rookie.
Ghost is joined by fellow finalists Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. The winner of the Calder Trophy will be announced at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 22. A Flyer has never won the award.
I had a Calder vote and I used it to vote for Gostisbehere. Panarin and McDavid were also in my top three, but my thinking is that Gostisbehere's impact on the 2015-16 Flyers was just so much greater than the impact either Panarin or McDavid had on their teams this year. You can draw a pretty straight line from the moment Ghost was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to the Flyers' ascent up the standings and ultimately to a playoff spot. I think that sort of impact should weigh on voters here. He stepped onto an NHL blue line midseason and became a game-breaker almost immediately, and he did it without much talent around him at his position. It wasn't flawless, but Ghost was a huge part of this team's success this season and you can even call him a catalyst for that success. None of the other finalists can say that.
Additionally, Ghost was saddled with carrying Andrew MacDonald for much of the season, while Panarin had the luxury of playing with Patrick Kane. And while McDavid led the league in points per game among rookies on a terrible team, I can't really ignore the fact that he only played 45 games due to injury. He probably wins this award easily if he plays the full season, but unfortunately he did not. It's not a reward for best potential rookie season, even if his 45 games are enough to still get him into the top three in my opinion.
I don't know if Ghost will win. The fact that both McDavid and Panarin finished with more points than he did might give one of them the award, and anecdotally speaking, Panarin feels like the front-runner from what I've read from other writers. But given Ghost's direct impact on the Flyers this season, I think he deserves the award. We'll see next month.