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Trophy tracker: Thompson, Benners lead for Calder as Rookie of the Year

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To celebrate the quarter of the 2022-23 regular season, NHL.com is running Part Two of its Trophy Tracker Series. Today, we look at the race for the Calder Cup, awarded annually to the NHL’s rookie of the year as chosen in a poll by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

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Logan Thompson is proof that good things really do come to those who wait.

After going undrafted after four seasons with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, and then another season in college in Canada, he took full advantage of an opportunity as the starting point guard for the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 25-year-old, who got his chance due to an injury to Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossuyt, is 13-3-0 with a 2.30 goals-against average, 0.925 save percentage and two shutouts in 14 games (all starts).

Thompson is the favorite to win the Calder Cup according to a panel of 14 writers for NHL.com, receiving 11 first-place votes and 62 points in the poll. He was tied for ninth with other players in the NHL.com preseason poll in October.

“He. She [stinks] “When you’re not drafted or you’re always being told you’re not good enough,” Thompson said. “You have to use that as motivation. There are a lot of good hockey players out there, but you definitely have to put in the work and that’s something I’m really happy about, how hard I worked.

“And I won’t stop.”

Matty BenearsThey, along with the Seattle Kraken, finished second in the poll with two first-place votes and 52 points, followed by the Ottawa Senators ahead. Shin Bento With 35 points (one vote for first place), the Senators are the Defender Jake Sanderson With 26 points and the Defending Buffalo Sabers Owen Bauer With 15 points.

Penners has been a key component of Seattle’s offense this season. The 20-year-old ranks first among all NHL rookies with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) while averaging 17:18 ice time to help Seattle (11-5-3) finish second in the Perimeter Division Quiet.

“He’s a young quarterback in the league,” said Kraken coach Dave Huxtol. “His efforts and intentions are fantastic. His confidence is a real strength. Playing midfield, you have many different responsibilities.”

Pinto has nine points and leads all rookie NHL players with eight goals and 41 shots on goal in 19 games.

Thompson could become the 17th goaltender to win the Calder Cup and the first since Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009. No Golden Knights player has won the Calder Cup.

Thompson attended Brock University to play in a Canadian collegiate league, U Sports, which provides opportunities to alumni of the Canadian Hockey League. He finished 18-6-0 with a 2.22 GAA and a . 934 save percentage in 24 games and was named U Sports Rookie of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018-19.

After two seasons in the ECHL, the 25-year-old signed a two-year rookie contract with Vegas on July 13, 2020.

He was 16-6-1 with a 1.96 GAA, . 943 save percentage and two shutouts in 23 games with Henderson winning the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the NFL’s best goaltender in 2020-21. He also made his NHL debut with Vegas in a relief appearance against the Minnesota Wild on March 10, 2021, before signing a three-year contract extension on January 30, 2022.

Thompson helped Vegas to a #1 finish in the Pacific with a 16-4-1 start under first year head coach Bruce Cassidy. He is 9-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA and a 0.925 save percentage in his past 10 games, earning him an NHL career-high 42 saves in a 5-4 win at the Ottawa Senators on November 3.

“Last year I didn’t see him play another summer movie, but what impressed me was his confidence,” Cassidy said. “He’s got a bit of bravado in the net. He’s a good athlete out there, yet he’s still composed and, for the youngsters, he has a good technical edge in his game.”

Total Voting (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights, 62 points (11 first-place votes); Matty Benners, Seattle Kraken, 52 points (two first-place votes); Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators, 35 points (1 first place vote); Jake Sanderson, Senators, 26 points; Owen Bauer, Buffalo Sabers, 15 points; Matthias MaxelliArizona Coyotes, 13 points; Stuart SkinnerEdmonton Oilers, three points; Mason McTavishAnaheim Ducks, 2 points; Cayden ignoranceMontreal Canadiens one point

NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this story.

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