The NHL Awards season continues to roll along.
The NHL unveiled the three finalists for the Calder Trophy on Wednesday morning, with Toronto’s Michael Bunting, Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras, and Detroit’s Moritz Seider being named as the most likely candidates to take home this year’s hardware.
Bunting might be the oldest of the three nominees, as he’s set to celebrate his 27th birthday before the start of next season, but the Scarborough native was also the highest-scoring of the bunch, racking up 23 goals and 63 points in 79 games during his first full season of NHL action while fitting in seamlessly on one of the top lines in the entire league alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
Bunting didn’t rely on favorable situations to increase his production, either. Of his 63 total points, Bunting scored 58 at even-strength, adding the element of a puck hound and pest to the Maple Leafs’ top unit that was lacking when Zach Hyman left in free agency.
Now, if the Calder was awarded to the rookie who is most influential to the sport of hockey as a commercially viable product, then Zegras would win it in a landslide.
The 21-year-old continually re-defined what was possible to accomplish during an NHL game, pulling off a pair of highlight moves that will forever be associated with his name. Zegras also happened to score at a dazzling rate, too, with 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games on a team with very little offensive support around him.
And then there’s Seider, the consensus favorite, who emerged as a true top-pair defenseman for a Red Wings club that desperately needs one.
Seider’s offensive production is impressive enough on its own, with the 21-year-old chipping in seven goals and 50 points in 82 games. But the fact that he nearly drew even in both expected goal share and scoring chance generation while logging over 23 minutes per night on a basement-dwelling team is a Herculean feat.
The NHL boasted quite the rookie class this season. Now, fans will have to wait to see who gets crowned the best.