The wait is over. The votes are in. The top three rookies of the 2013-14 NHL season as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association are Colorado’s Nate MacKinnon, and Tampa Bay’s Ondřej Palát and Tyler Johnson.
MacKinnon finished with the most points of any rookie with 63, while Palát and Johnson finished second and third in rookie scoring, respectively.
The nominations of Palát and Johnson marks the first time two rookies from the same team were nominated for the award since Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were among the three players on the ballot in 2008. Kane and Toews finished first and third in the voting that year, but Palát and Johnson are both considered long shots for first place.
“[Palát] put up some good numbers this year, but I’d have to imagine that MacKinnon is winning rookie of the year,” said Kelsey Surmacz, hockey writer for The Post Sports. “What he did at 18-years-old is incredible, and he helped take a team from picking first overall to first in the division and second in the conference.”
MacKinnon was selected first overall by the Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and had heavy expectations to produce for his team. Palát and Johnson, on the other hand, didn’t come into the league with as much fanfare. Palát was drafted by the Lightning in his third and final year of eligibility 203rd overall in 2011. He was the fourth-to-last player selected in the entire draft. Johnson was never drafted, and was signed as an undrafted free agent when his four-year career with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs came to an end.
However, this was MacKinnon’s first ever season of pro hockey, whereas both Palát and Johnson are 23-years-old and spent two seasons playing for Tampa Bay’s minor league affiliate.
If MacKinnon were to win, he would become just the fifth 18-year-old to win the award in its 76-year history, joining Jeff Skinner (2011,) Tom Barrasso (1984,) Dale Hawerchuk (1982,) and Bobby Orr (1967).
The number of votes each player received won’t be revealed until after the Calder Trophy winner is announced in the summer, but one would have to think defensemen Jacob Trouba in Winnipeg, Hampus in Anaheim, and Olli Määttä in Pittsburgh were just barely on the outside of the top three.
Of course, Tampa Bay was swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Montréal Canadiens while MacKinnon has broken postseason rookie scoring records for Colorado, but playoff performance has no weight in the Calder quest.
The winner of the trophy will be revealed live on NBCSN from Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 24.