Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson won the Calder Trophy on Wednesday.
He beat St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to the award, which is given to the NHL's top rookie
The 20-year-old Pettersson called his triumph "humbling":
Pettersson was excellent in the 2018-19 season, scoring 28 goals and adding 38 assists in 71 games. He led all rookies in goals, assists and points. He had a plus-minus of three, scored 22 points on the power play (10 goals) and posted seven game-winning goals.
As Chris Peters of ESPN.com, wrote, "Having averaged 0.93 points per game, Pettersson is only the eighth rookie since 2005-06—when Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby set a new benchmark for rookies in the modern NHL—to eclipse the 0.9 mark."
His teammate, Brock Boeser, was impressed with Pettersson, per Jason Botchford of The Athletic:
"He definitely wants to be one of the best players in the NHL. I could sense that right away. You could just feel his confidence. I honestly think the last month of his season will help him tremendously. He's already been at work, studying what teams were doing to try and shut him down. You could see it at the end of the year. Guys we were playing against would just play him. He would make a play and guys would run him, too. He would try not to get frustrated. I went through the same thing. You have to find ways to get around it."
Binnington, 25, made a run at the Calder by finishing the season 24-5-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and five shutouts in 32 games, catapulting the Blues into the postseason with his late-season heroics.
It's fair to argue that no player, let alone a rookie, had a greater impact on his team than Binnington had for the Stanley Cup-winning Blues down the stretch.
"He was the spark they needed in that room," Binnington's former goalie coach Greg Redquest told Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.com in April. "He's so positive. Everybody loves him. You just want to be around him because he's a happy person. He makes you feel better about yourself."
He made the Blues better.
As for Dahlin, he headlined Buffalo's defense. The 19-year-old blueliner finished with nine goals, 35 assists and 20 power-play points, averaging 21:09 minutes per game. His 44 points led all rookie defensemen and were third in total amongst first-year players.
He also lived up to his billing as the top prospect in the 2018 draft class, though it wasn't enough to get the Sabres into the postseason.
ESPN's Barry Melrose became a big fan of the Swede's game in the 2018-19 season, as he told
"I like his game a lot. He plays against the other team's best players. He's a great skater, which we knew he was. I thought he was great. I know everyone looks at Pettersson having a great year, but you can't judge a defenseman the same as a forward. If you make a mistake as a defenseman, it's in your net. He's a blue-chip defenseman. He'll be back there for a lot of years for Buffalo and they'll be building their defense around him."
He had an excellent season, no doubt. But it wasn't enough to unseat Pettersson, who was the favorite for the Calder for the majority of the 2018-19 campaign.