The Wild was disappointed Monday to learn that Jonas Brodin, the youngest defenseman in the NHL at age 19, was not selected as one of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.
Brodin, a partner with Ryan Suter on the Wild’s No. 1 pair for most the season, led all NHL rookies in ice time at 23 minutes, 12 seconds a game.
“I’m stunned, actually stunned that he isn’t considered one of the top three rookies in the NHL,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “He had an exceptional season. The minutes he played, the role that he has for a playoff team, it’s happened very few times in the history of our game that a 19-year-old defenseman had the kind of role that he did.
“We’re certainly proud that we have him on our team.”
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng and Masterton Trophies. The Calder finalists announced Monday were Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Norris finalists will be announced Tuesday, and the Wild hopes at least that Suter is a finalist.
“I mean this with the greatest respect to [Saad, Gallagher and Huberdeau], but I’ve coached this guy all year and we’re here battling in the playoffs and it’s hard to say that we would be if he’s not on our team,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Brodin. “This kid is a very, very good hockey player. So it’s disappointing for me.”
Several members of the PHWA who cast votes took to Twitter on Monday to criticize Brodin’s omission.
The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons tweeted: “Very simply, Jonas Brodin was the top rookie in the NHL this season. The fact he isn’t a finalist for the Calder makes us voters look bad.”
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey tweeted: “A travesty Brodin’s not a finalist for Calder.”
The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher tweeted: “Hard to imagine Brodin not being in the top 3 of Calder race never mind not being on some people’s ballot.”
PHWA President Kevin Allen of USA Today said a record 178 PHWA members cast ballots, with 46.4 percent coming from East cities, 32.8 percent from West and 20.8 percent being international chapter members.
Allen doesn’t buy into the Eastern bias theory, saying: “I have great faith in our ability as an association to vote for what we think are the right people. This isn’t like the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. This is the day of the Internet and the availability of NHL Network. I just can’t believe things happen in the NHL without our members knowing about it.”
Brodin scored 11 points in 45 games, so he didn’t have the stats that the forwards had. That could have been what did him in, especially since so many PHWA members aren’t traveling beat writers and this was a condensed season where conferences only played each other.
“This year, Rookie of the Year was a little difficult,” Allen said. “In my mind, our group didn’t pick the guys I thought would be finalists. That doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It just means people didn’t think the same way I did.”
Brodin seemed unbothered by his omission. “I don’t focus on that,” he said. “I’m just focused on the playoffs right now. There’s a game [Tuesday]. They’re good players, the three guys there. I’m just going to focus on the games here.”