Selecting a Calder Trophy winner as the NHL’s rookie of the year is a no-brainer for Don Cherry.
During Hockey Night in Canada’s Coach’s Corner segment on Tuesday night, Cherry said Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid should win the award, hands down.
“Who’s the best rookie in the league? Are you kidding me?” Cherry said while rolling footage of McDavid’s dominance at the World Hockey Championships. “He’s not (only) the rookie of the year, maybe the best player in the National Hockey League.”
Among the finalists with McDavid are late-blooming winger Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks and offensive defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Panarin may be the favourite to win the award after leading all rookies with 30 goals, 47 assists for 77 points. However, Cherry was critical of the 24-year-old (He’ll be 25 in October) Russian sniper, who played professionally in the KHL for more than eight seasons.
“Who’s the best rookie? Come on!” Cherry added. “You’re going to get that 25-year-old guy?”
Despite being sidelined for nearly half the season with a broken clavicle, McDavid returned from the injury and finished fourth in rookie scoring with 48 points in 45 games.
On top of that, McDavid had the league’s third-best points per game rate — only Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn were better in that department.
At the recent World Hockey Championships in Russia, McDavid has continued where he left off in the NHL as the 2015 No. 1 draft pick has four assists and a plus-1 rating in three games played.
This isn’t the first time Cherry has been vocal about McDavid winning the Calder Trophy. Last month on Coach’s Corner Cherry said McDavid is a franchise player and the obvious rookie of the year.
“Folks, let’s face it, the guy that should win it (is McDavid),” Cherry said. “If you were starting a franchise tomorrow, who would you want to pick? The best rookie. So, who’s the best rookie?”
McDavid Eliminated from NHL 17 Cover Competition
While McDavid is still in the running as the top rookie, the 19-year-old on Tuesday was officially eliminated from EA Sports’ NHL 17 cover competition.
— Joe Pavelski (@jpav8) May 10, 2016
McDavid was ousted from contention after losing a vote-off against San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, who will face St. Louis Blues superstar Vladimir Tarasenko for cover bragging rights.
The Calder Trophy and winner of the EA Sports cover will both be announced at the NHL Awards on June 24 in Las Vegas.