To mark the quarter mark of the 2022-23 regular season, NHL.com is running its second installment of the Trophy Tracker series. Today, we look at the race for the Calder Trophy, given annually to the rookie of the year in the NHL as selected in a poll by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Logan Thompson is proof good things really do come to those who wait.
After going undrafted following four seasons with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, and then one more season in college in Canada, he’s taking full advantage of an opportunity as the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 25-year-old, who earned his chance due to injuries to Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit, is 13-3-0 with a 2.30 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and two shutouts in 14 games (all starts).
Thompson is the favorite to win the Calder Trophy 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 two other players in NHL.com’s preseason poll in October.
“It [stinks] when you don’t get drafted or you always get told you’re not good enough,” Thompson said. “You have to use that as motivation. There are tons of skilled hockey players out there, but you definitely have to put in the work and that’s one thing I’m happy with, how hard I worked.
“And I’m not going to stop.”
Matty Beniersa center with the Seattle Kraken, is second in the poll with two first-place votes and 52 points, followed by Ottawa Senators forward Shane Pinto with 35 points (one first-place vote), Senators defenseman Jake Sanderson with 26 points and Buffalo Sabers defenseman Owen Power with 15 points.
Beniers has been a key cog in 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 of ice time to help Seattle (11-5-3) to second place in the Pacific Division.
“He’s a young centerman in this league,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “His effort and his intentions are outstanding. His confidence is a real strength. Playing up the middle, you have so many different responsibilities.”
Pinto has nine points and leads all NHL rookies with eight goals and 41 shots on goal in 19 games.
Thompson could become the 17th goalie to win the Calder Trophy and first since Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009. No player from the Golden Knights has won the Calder Trophy.
Thompson attended Brock University to play in a Canadian university league, U Sports, which provides opportunities to Canadian Hockey League and Canadian Junior Hockey League graduates. He finished 18-6-0 with a 2.22 GAA and .934 save percentage in 24 games and was named U Sports rookie of the year and goalie of the year in 2018-19.
After two seasons in the ECHL, the 25-year-old signed a two-year entry-level 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 to win the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the American Hockey League’s top goalie 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 Jan. 30, 2022.
Thompson has helped Vegas to first place in the Pacific with a 16-4-1 start under first-year coach Bruce Cassidy. He is 9-1-0 with a 2.30 GAA and .925 save percentage in his past 10 starts, making an NHL career-high 42 saves in a 5-4 win at the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 3.
“I didn’t see him play last year other than in the film in the summer, but what’s impressed me is his confidence,” Cassidy said. “He’s got some swagger in the net. He’s a good athlete there, yet he’s still composed and, for a young guy, has good technical merit in his game.”
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights, 62 points (11 first-place votes); Matty Beniers, Seattle Kraken, 52 points (two first-place votes); Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators, 35 points (one first-place vote); Jake Sanderson, Senators, 26 points; Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres, 15 points; Matias MaccelliArizona Coyotes, 13 points; Stuart SkinnerEdmonton Oilers, three points; Mason McTavishAnaheim Ducks, two points; Kaiden GuhleMontreal Canadiens, one point
NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this story.