For the Reporter
Former Seattle Thunderbirds captain Mathew Barzal won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year Award at the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., on Wednesday.
Barzal led all rookies with 85 points – 22 goals and 63 assists – in 82 games with the New York Islanders. The speedy center beat out Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser and Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller for the honor.
Barzal, 21, became the seventh rookie in NHL history with at least 20 goals and 60 assists, and just the second to record three five-point games.
The Islanders selected Barzal in the first round, 16th overall, in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Barzal played four seasons with the T-Birds from 2013 to 2017, scoring 63 goals and delivering 215 assists for 278 points in 202 career regular-season games. He is third in T-Birds history in career assists with 215 behind Glen Goodall (290) and Victor Gervais (237). He is sixth in T-Birds history in career points.
Barzal also is first in T-Birds history in career playoff points with 17 goals and 48 assists for 65 points in 49 games. He was the WHL Playoff MVP as the T-Birds won the 2017 WHL championship.
Barzal was a two-time WHL Western Conference All-Star and was the 2016-17 WHL Western Conference Player of the Year.
“It is exciting to see Mat be presented with the Rookie of the Year Award,” said Russ Farwell, T-Birds vice president of hockey operations. “He always had a burning desire to be a hockey player and his desire carried him through the entire season. He played every game, played his own style and contributed offensively from day one, and each of those is hard for a rookie to do so he is very deserving of this award.”
“I was fortunate to get an opportunity to coach an elite talent that also possessed the drive to do whatever it took to be the best player in the game,” said Steve Konowalchuk, former T-Birds coach and current assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks. “Mat was a great leader for our teams in Seattle. His talent and willingness to do what it takes was a huge factor in winning the WHL championship.”