For the first time since 2008, a Chicago Blackhawks rookie has taken home the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best first-year player, as Artemi Panarin won the award on Wednesday night.
Panarin, who scored 30 goals for the Blackhawks in his first season playing hockey in North America, fended off Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid for the prestigious honor.
Panarin also becomes the first Blackhawks player to win the award since Patrick Kane (who was nominated for the Hart Trophy largely based on his production with Panarin this season) took home the trophy after the 2007-08 season. Blackhawks teammate Jonathan Toews was also a finalist for the award in that season.
In 80 games with the Blackhawks, Panarin scored 30 goals and dished out 47 assists, finishing in the top-10 in the league in points per game. The rookie sensation also excelled in the playoffs, scoring a pair of goals and racking up five assists in the Blackhawks’ first round series loss to the St. Louis Blues.
There was some talk that Panarin shouldn’t be eligible for the award, as he spent seven seasons in the KHL in Russia, but hockey writers clearly disagreed as the 24-year old Panarin became the ninth member of the Blackhawks to win the trophy.