Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason and Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg are the finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year, the league announced Wednesday.
Versteeg, a fifth-round choice (134th overall) of the Boston Bruins in 2004, led all rookies with 31 assists while finishing second to Ryan with 53 points. The 22-year-old from Lethbridge, Alta., added a rookie-best four short-handed goals.
"Bobby Ryan and Mason, those are two pretty special players and to be loaded into a class with those guys, it's a huge compliment for myself," Versteeg said Wednesday from Calgary, where the Blackhawks were facing the Flames in a Western Conference quarter-final series.
"I was a bit surprised. It caught me off guard. This year, I've always known I could help offensively and I was put in some situations to succeed and just tried to do my best with that."
Ryan, the second pick in the 2005 draft, recorded 31 goals and 57 points -- both tops among first-year players -- in just 64 games with the Ducks. The 22-year-old from Cherry Hill, N.J., earned rookie-of-the-month honours in January with 11 goals and five assists in 14 games.
Ryan played junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey League's Owen Sound Attack.
Mason, taken in the third round (69th overall) by the Blue Jackets in 2006, led the NHL with 10 shutouts and ranked second with a 2.29 goals-against average. The 20-year-old from Oakville, Ont., lifted the Blue Jackets to the first playoff appearance in franchise history.
The trophy will be handed out June 18 during the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
As much as I appreciate what Bobby Ryan and Kris Versteeg did this season, I think that Steve Mason is going to win this in a landslide. I see Ryan as the runner-up.