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Artemi Panarin: 'I'll be upset if I don't get the Calder'

The young Russian sensation is one of the NHL's top rookies of the year.

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Well, we know this much: the Professional Hockey Writers Association believes Artemi Panarin is one of the top three rookies in the NHL. We won't find out if they thought he was the very best, though, until the NHL Awards on June 22 in Las Vegas.

There's been a fair amount of controversy surrounding Panarin's season. How could he be voted rookie of the year when he had already spent several seasons playing professionally in the KHL? And just how many points would he have had playing without Patrick Kane, anyway?

Both of these are irrelevant. Panarin fits the NHL's definition as a rookie, so he's eligible to be nominated, full-stop. And as the top-scoring rookie by 21 points, well, he's more than deserving to be a finalist.

(Vegas, ready your vodka.)

As for the Kane factor: hey, Panarin's an equal-opportunity pump-up guy. They had a third linemate, after all:

It's almost as if hockey is a team sport, but there are occasionally individuals - like Panarin, the only rookie to finish top 10 in NHL scoring - who deserve recognition based on what they were able to do as well.