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NHL’s top rookie race between Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik, Cale Makar

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar are the three finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s rookie of the year.

Hughes posted eight goals and 53 points in 68 games to become the third defenceman since the NHL’s “modern era” started in 1943-44 to top rookies in scoring (outright or tied), joining Brian Leetch (1988-89, New York Rangers) and Bobby Orr (1966-67, Boston).

His 53 points were the most by any rookie defenceman since 1991-92, when Nicklas Lidstrom compiled had 60 in 80 appearances with Detroit.

Hughes also led all 2019-20 rookies in assists (45), power-play assists (22) and power-play points (25), while ranking among the top five in average time on ice (second, 21:53), total time on ice (second, 1,488:09) and shots on goal (fifth, 126).

The 20-year-old Orlando, Fla., native is looking to become the second straight Canucks player to claim the Calder Trophy, following Elias Pettersson in 2018-19. The last team to boast consecutive Calder Trophy winners was the Boston Bruins, in 1966-67 (Orr) and 1967-68 (Derek Sanderson).

Kubalik led all rookies with 30 goals in 68 games, making him the fifth rookie in Blackhawks history to reach the 30-goal milestone.

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The 24-year-old Plzen, Czech Republic, native became the first Czech-born player in NHL history to pace rookies in goals as well as the third to reach the 30-goal plateau.

Kubalik, topped all 2019-20 rookies and ranked seventh in the entire NHL with a 19.1 shooting percentage.

Makar led rookies with 0.88 points per game (12 goals, 38 assists in 57 games). He also finished among the 2019-20 rookie leaders in game-winning goals (tied first, four), assists (second, 38) and points (second, 50).

The 21-year-old Calgary native is seeking to become the sixth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to capture the Calder Trophy and fourth since the franchise relocated to Colorado, following Nathan MacKinnon (2013-14), Gabriel Landeskog (2011-12) and Chris Drury (1998-99).

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