Oh, what could have been. When the Blue Jackets drafted Steve Mason in the third round (#69 overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft, not many people saw him going from backup goalie of the London Knights; to NHL Calder Trophy winner. But that’s exactly what happened, and we shouldn’t overlook his great season – even if things were never the same after.
#3: Steve Mason’s Calder Year
Depending on who you ask, Steve Mason was either one of the best Blue Jacket draft picks of all-time – or one of the worst. The latter opinion seems odd to me, because how often does a third round pick become your starting goaltender and lead your team into the playoffs at just 20 years old? I’ll agree that it was all downhill from there, but imagine for just one second: if the team traded him in the summer of 2009, what would his value have been? Picking him in the third round was a major win.
The Jackets entered that season with a lot of question marks, but a lot of those question marks were kicked to the back burner when Mason burst onto the scene in early November, winning each of his first three starts. He got his first shutout in the sixth game of his career, then added another in his eighth. He had a sequence of three consecutive shutouts in late December – part of a stretch where he surrendered just 13 goals in 11 games, winning 7 of those contests.
His ridiculous play helped the team into their first ever playoff berth (also on the back of a then-franchise record 79 points from Rick Nash). Mason would finish his rookie season with a 33-20-7 record, posting a save percentage of .916 and a 2.29 goals against average. He won 121 of the 132 first place votes for the Calder Trophy, absolutely running away as the league’s top rookie.
Better yet, at just 20 years old and on a team that squeaked into the playoffs, he finished second in Vezina Trophy voting for best goaltender. It was a truly remarkable season that came out of nowhere, and one that we should never forget as Jacket fans. The memories of our first ever playoff team were brief (let’s face it, they got trounced by the Detroit Red Wings) – but, without Steve Mason, we wouldn’t have even sniffed the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets have played 41 playoff games in their history, and only four goaltenders have played in those games. Steve Mason has 10% of those starts. Like I said, I’m calling his selection a third round win.