Cross Checks: Ondrej Palat

From the official NHL release:


NEW YORK (April 23, 2014) -- Forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced today. The Lightning is the first club to boast multiple Calder finalists since Chicago's Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively, in 2008.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Calder Trophy, in alphabetical

Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

Johnson scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He tied for the overall League lead in shorthanded goals (five) and tallied five power-play goals, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to record five of each in one season (Dennis Maruk, 1975-76). Johnson also led all rookies in total ice time (1,540:20) and face-offs (1,275). Signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay in March 2011, Johnson is the first undrafted Calder finalist since Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour took top honors in 1991.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon topped all first-year players in points (63), goals (24-tied), assists (39), power-play goals (8), game-winning goals (5-tied) and shots (241). The first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft tallied at least one point in 13 consecutive games from Jan. 25 to March 6 (5-13—18), breaking Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for the longest single-season point streak by a player age 18 or younger (12 games). MacKinnon is the fourth Avalanche player voted a Calder finalist in the past eight years, joining Paul Stastny (2nd in 2007), Matt Duchene (3rd in 2010) and Gabriel Landeskog (1st in 2012).

Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

Palat ranked second among rookie scorers with 23-36--59, three points shy of Brad Richards' Lightning rookie record of 62 points in 2000-01.
Palat was the League's top rookie threat over the second half of the season, leading all first-year players in scoring after Jan. 1 (17-27--44 in 42 GP, including 14 multiple-point games) and earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors for January and March. He posted an eight-game point streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 9, the longest ever by a Lightning rookie, and led all first-year players in plus-minus (+32).


From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, NHL President Frank Calder purchased a trophy each year to be given permanently to the NHL’s outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the League presented the Calder Trophy in his memory.
From the official NHL release:


NEW YORK (February 4, 2014) – Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat, who led all rookies in scoring with 16 points (5-11--16) in 15 games, has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for January.

Palat edged Lightning center Tyler Johnson (7-7--14 in 15 games), Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (9-4--13 in 14 games), Minnesota Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper (6-2-1, 2.15 goals-against average, .932 save
%) and Anaheim Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen (5-0-0, 1.86 goals-against average, .939 save %).

Palat registered points in the first five games of the month, extending his point streak to eight games (4-6--10, Dec. 23 to Jan. 9) -- the longest ever by a Lightning rookie. He also tallied points in five consecutive games at the end of the month (2-7--9, Jan. 19-30).

Named to the Czech Republic team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Palat leads NHL rookie forwards in plus-minus (+20) and ranks second in average ice time per game (17:14). The 22-year-old also ranks third among all rookies in assists (20) and fourth in points (11-20--31).

Palat joins San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (October), Nashville Predators goaltender Marek Mazanek (November), Los Angeles Kings goaltender Martin Jones (December co-winner) and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (December co-winner) as recipients of the award this season.