What are Clayton Keller’s Calder Memorial Trophy chances?

Apr 20, 2018, 11:10 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller reacts after scoring a second-period goal against the Detroit...

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller reacts after scoring a second-period goal against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

With finalists for the 2018 NHL Awards set to be announced on Sunday, the Arizona Coyotes’ Clayton Keller could be up for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Only three players will be named finalists and in a deep field, selecting the top rookie in the NHL is no easy feat.

Here’s how Keller stacks up against the top rookies in the league.

Clayton Keller (Center – Arizona Coyotes)

65 points (23 goals, 42 assists) in 82 games played

When Arizona selected Keller with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, few could have predicted the impact he would have in such a short period of time.

At 19 years old, he won Rookie of the Month twice and was tied for the team lead in points. Among rookies, Keller finished second in both assists and points.

Having three games of experience coming into the year, Keller was asked to mature quickly in 2018 and developed into the Coyotes’ top offensive option.

After falling into the middle of the pack during the winter, his 19-point March makes the Rookie of the Year conversation much more interesting.

Mathew Barzal (Center – New York Islanders)

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) in 82 games played

Should center John Tavares choose to leave New York this summer, it is safe to assume that Barzal would become the Islanders’ top-line center and rightfully so.

Considered by some to be the Calder Trophy favorite, Barzal led not only the Islanders in points, but all rookies in points and assists this season.

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski went as far as to call his shot with three games left in the regular season.

Barzal has this thing in the bag with 79 points in 79 games and several highlight reels worth of offensive amazement, so the only lingering drama is among the runners-up.

A floor general on the ice, Barzal’s ability to create played a part in New York having the seventh-best scoring offense in the NHL.

Brock Boeser (Right wing – Vancouver Canucks)

(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) in 62 games played

If someone else brings home the hardware on June 20, it will be a summer of “what if” for Boeser.

The 2015 first-round pick joined Keller as the only other player to win Rookie of the Month twice and appeared to be in the thick of the Calder Trophy race before a serious back injury cut his season short on March 5.

Despite missing his team’s final 20 games, Boeser ended the season tied for the team lead in points with the newly-retired Daniel Sedin.

A proven scorer in his first year, Boeser had six multi-goal games, five game-winning goals and his 29 goals were the second-most among rookies.

Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman – Boston Bruins)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

32 points (7 goals, 25 assists) in 63 games played

After missing 19 games with a sprained MCL, McAvoy returned for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, end-of-season awards do not take postseason play into the decision-making process.

In 63 games, McAvoy quickly showed that he has the potential to be among the game’s best blueliners down the road.

On top of playing with veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara as the top defensive pairing, McAvoy was part of a unit that ranked fourth in goals allowed per game and third on the penalty kill. His plus-minus rating of 20 ranked as the best among rookie defensemen.

A differencemaker on the defensive end of the ice, McAvoy has a case for the Calder Trophy but not playing the entire season will likely hurt his chances.

Yanni Gourde (Left wing – Tampa Bay Lightning)

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games played

Gourde turned 26 on Dec. 15, reaching the NHL cutoff to obtain rookie status by exactly two months.

Playing in Tampa Bay, he has had the chance to develop alongside perennial All-Stars in Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. As a rookie, Gourde recorded the third-most points and fourth-most goals on the top offense in the NHL.

What stands out about his first full season is a plus-minus rating of 34, tied for the third-highest mark league-wide.

Though Gourde has impressive stats, his age and the players around him do not help his case for the Calder Trophy.

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