The NHL has once before made a significant change to its rookie of the year rules by establishing an age limit after 31-year-old Sergei Makarov won the Calder Trophy in 1990.
A player must now be 26 or younger to be eligible.
Former player and current TV broadcaster Jeremy Roenick doesn’t believe the league needs to do any more tinkering now that another player with Russian pro experience, 24-year-old Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin, is the odds-on front-runner to win this season.
“Yes, his talents are a little bit more advanced because of the KHL, but still, he’s a rookie,” Roenick said during an NBC conference call on Tuesday. “He is just as dynamic as any player, especially any rookie player in the National Hockey League. I have no problem with it.”
Roenick has perspective, in part because he finished third in the Calder Cup voting in 1990, behind Mike Modano and Makarov, who had made the jump to the NHL after 13 seasons in Russia.
Panarin made a similar move in May, when he signed with Chicago after combined for 76 goals and 183 points in 263 Kontinental Hockey League games.
He has since run away with the NHL’s rookie scoring race. Panarin led rookies with 30 goals, 47 assists and 77 points, which are tied for ninth among all players. Buffalo center Jack Eichel, a 19-year-old, finished second among rookies with 24 goals and 56 points.
Critics have argued that Panarin not only benefited from his KHL experience, but also because he played alongside Patrick Kane, who finished with a league-leading 106 points.
Roenick still favors Panarin.
A glance of who’s in the running for the NHL’s regular-season awards:
Should win: Panarin.
In the running: Philadelphia D Shayne Gostisbehere, Eichel and Anaheim goalie John Gibson.
Question: Does Edmonton’s Connor McDavid deserve consideration after missing 37 games with a broken collarbone?
Should win: Kane.
In the running: Washington LW Alex Ovechkin, Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby, Florida RW Jaromir Jagr.
Question: Does Capitals goalie Braden Holtby earn consideration for winning 48 games to tie Martin Brodeur’s single-season record?
NORRIS (Top defenseman)
Should win: Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
In the running: Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, San Jose’s Brent Burns.
Question: Do voters shy away from Karlsson after the Senators missed the playoffs?
VEZINA (Top goalie)
Should win: Holtby.
In the running: Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, St. Louis’ Brian Elliott.
Question: Does San Jose’s Martin Jones deserve consideration after finishing ninth in goals-against (2.27), third in wins (37) and tied for second in shutouts (six)?
ADAMS (Top coach)
Should win: Florida’s Gerard Gallant.
In the running: Washington’s Barry Trotz, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau.
Question: How much consideration do Philadelphia’s Dave Hakstol, an NHL rookie, and San Jose’s Peter DeBoer get for leading their teams to the playoffs during their first seasons?
SELKE (Top defensive forward)
Should win: Chicago C Jonathan Toews.
In the running: Los Angeles C Anze Kopitar, Boston C Patrice Bergeron.
Question: Does Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler get anything for being the toughest player to play against in the NHL?
ON THE HOTSEAT:
Ottawa’s Dave Cameron was the first NHL coach to lose his job this offseason.
Claude Julien’s job in Boston is in question for a second consecutive offseason after the Bruins collapsed down the stretch to miss the playoffs. In St. Louis, Ken Hitchcock’s job security could be tied to how deep of a run the Blues make in the playoffs.
By comparison, Dave Tippett was retained by the Coyotes after general manager Don Maloney was fired. Michel Therrien is coming back in Montreal, where the blame for the Canadiens missing the playoffs was pinned on injuries to key players, including star goalie Carey Price.
ICE CHIPS: As expected, forward Auston Matthews topped NHL Central Scouting’s list of draft-eligible players released on Tuesday. Austin, who is from Scottsdale, Arizona, spent this past season playing in Switzerland’s top men’s league, where he had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games played. The next two ranked players are Finnish-born forwards, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljaujarvi. … The NHL draft lottery is scheduled to be held April 30, with the draft to be held in Buffalo on June 24-25. … Toews, followed by Kane, had the top-two selling jerseys on NHL.com this season. McDavid was the lone rookie and ranked 10th.
AP Sports Writers Stephen Whyno, Greg Beacham and Larry Lage contributed to this report.
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