There’s been so much activity in the NHL
over the past few weeks that it may have been easy to miss some of the more important
announcements. The league handed out its annual awards in Las Vegas recently
and also announced the 2016/17 All-Rookie Team. The rookie team included all
three players who were finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy this year as
Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski made the team along with centre
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik
Matthews’ Toronto teammate Mitch Marner
also made the squad along with New York Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei and
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Voting for the All-Rookie Team and
the annual awards was done by the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers
Association) when the regular season concluded.
Goaltender Matt Murray has already won two
Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but this was his official rookie season. He
posted a 32-10-4 record this year with a 92.3 save percentage and 2.41
goals-against average. He also recorded four shutouts in his 49 games. He’s the
first rookie goalie to win 30 games since 2010/11 when Corey Crawford of the
Chicago Blackhawks achieved it. The 23-year-old Murray’s 32 wins were also a
rookie record for the Penguins franchise.
Brady Skjei of the Rangers is probably the
least-known member of the rookie squad. He was chosen with the 28th
selection in the 2012 draft and the 23-year-old ranked second in scoring for
rookie defenceman this season. He scored five goals and 34 assists in 80 games
and was a plus-11. Skjei became the top-scoring Rangers rookie blueliner since
Brian Leetch had 71 points in 1988/89.
Zach Werenski was the league’s top rookie
defenceman this season as he scored 11 goals and 36 assists for 47 points in Columbus.
He played 78 games and was also the best rookie blueliner when it came to
plus/minus as he was a plus-17. The 19-year-old was drafted eighth overall in
2015 and he’s now ranked sixth overall for points by a teenaged rookie defender
in NHL history. He also set new franchise records for rookie points and assists
in Columbus and his 47 points is ranked second ever for points by a blue
Winger Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets was
chosen second overall in the 2016 draft and he was ranked second in rookie
scoring last season with 36 goals and 28 assists for points in his 73 outings.
His goals and points totals were rookie records for the Jets franchise. Laine
led all rookies with a 17.6 shooting percentage and tied for power play goals
with nine. He was top-10 in the league when it came to game-winning goals, shots
on goal, and power-play assists and points. He also became the first player in
league history to score three hat-tricks before turning 19 years old.
Mitch Marner was drafted fourth overall by Toronto
in 2015 and the 20-year-old led all first-year players in assists with 42. He
also had 19 goals for 61 points in 77 contests. Marner was top-10 in rookie power
play assists, goals and points as well as goals, game-winning goals, points and
shots on goal. He set a new Maple Leafs franchise record for assists by a
rookie and with fellow first-year players William Nylander and Auston Matthews;
Toronto became the second NHL team ever to have three rookies with at least 60
points in the same campaign.
Auston Matthews won the Calder Trophy
winner as rookie of the year and was the first overall pick in the 2016 draft
by Toronto. He finished the season with 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points
in 82 games. He led all rookies in goals and points and his 40 goals ranked
tied for second in league scoring. Matthews set a new franchise record for
rookie goals and points and became the first NHL player in the modern era to
score four times in his first league game. The 19-year-old led all rookies in game-winning
goals with eight and shots on goal with 279. Matthews was top-10 for rookie power-play
goals, assists and points as well as overall shooting percentage, and assists.
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