Dominik Kubalik was named one of three finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy, which is annually awarded to the league's top rookie, the NHL announced Wednesday. Vancouver's Quinn Hughes and Colorado's Cale Makar rounded out the group, respectively.
"It's an honor," an emotional Kubalik said in a video conference call. "I just couldn't believe it. Coming from Europe, obviously you have some goals, but you don't think that high to be a finalist or something like that. It's just great. Lots of guys could be here, too, so I'm really happy that I'm here. It's very hard to talk about it."
Kubalik is the first Blackhawks rookie to be named a finalist since Artemi Panarin, who took home the hardware in 2016. Only eight others in franchise history have won the award: Mike Karakas (1936), Carl Dahlstrom (1938), Ed Litzenberger (1955), William Hay (1960), Tony Esposito (1970), Steve Larmer (1983), Ed Belfour (1991) and Patrick Kane (2008).
Kubalik led all rookies this season with 30 goals and ranked third with 46 points. The kicker is that 26 of his goals were scored at even strength. To put that into perspective, only three rookies have scored more than 26 goals at even strength in the last 20 years: Auston Matthews (32), Alex Ovechkin (28) and Patrik Laine (27).
The award will likely go to either Hughes or Makar, who ranked No. 1 and 2 among all rookies in scoring as defensemen, but that certainly doesn't take away from what Kubalik accomplished this season.
The 2020 NHL Awards were originally scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The winner will be announced at a later date.