Let’s Predict the NHL Award-Winners

NHL Awards

The last time Patrick Kane went back-to-back games without a point was in October, which kicked off a record breaking 26-game point streak, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 15-7-4 run over that span. He hasn’t slowed down, rounding up 76 points in just 56 games and solidifying himself as a surefire Hart Trophy candidate.

Now that the All-Star weekend is in the books, how are the rest of the NHL awards shaping up? Let’s have a look at some predictions before the final stretch of the season:

Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP)

Erik Karlsson

Patrick Kane

Braden Holtby

Winner: Patrick Kane

Longshot(s): Sidney Crosby, Cory Schneider

Patrick Kane has been dominating the NHL this season and it seems to have started at puck drop on opening night. The leader in goals (32), power play goals (14), goals created (29.3) and second in assists (44), it’s tough to imagine a world where Kane doesn’t bring this one home.

As for the runners-up, Karlsson is on pace to beat his point total from last year’s Norris Trophy winning year, and is +7 on a team that gives up the second-most goals in the league. After Price’s win last year, goalies seem to be getting more consideration for the Hart—and Holtby has been in elite territory all year while guiding his team to a President’s Trophy that’s everything but in the bag.

As for longshots, there might be no player more valuable to their team than Cory Schneider. The Devils are currently in a wild card spot despite questionable offensive skill and their goalie facing the 4th most shots in the league. Sporting a save rate of 93 percent and goals against average of 2.03, Schneider could get some consideration should the Devils make the postseason.

After a slow start, the Penguins are 7-2-1 over their past ten games—and Sidney Crosby has 20 points. There’s a clear relationship between his success and his team’s performance and, now that they’re both hot at the right time, it’s a recipe for Crosby to be named the Most Valuable Player come the end of the season.

Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player)

Patrick Kane

Erik Karlsson

Tyler Seguin

Winner: Patrick Kane

Longshot: Sidney Crosby

Need justification for Kane’s victory? See above. Karlsson is in a defensive class of his own right now, even above the likes of PK Subban, Shea Weber, and Kris Letang. He could finish the league second in points on a team with the fifth-worst goal differential in the league (-15).

Jamie Benn rightfully gets a lot of love in Dallas for grinding and doing all of the little things right, but Tyler Seguin is just three points behind Ben for second place in the league. One of the fastest teams in recent memory, it’d be great to see him get some recognition for being a catalyst for their offense—especially if they finish the season the way it began.

As for Crosby, check out the description in the Hart race—he’s leading a Penguins team heating up at the perfect time.

Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender)

Corey Crawford

Cory Schneider

Braden Holtby

Winner: Braden Holtby

Longshot: Roberto Luongo

The more I think about it, the more I really enjoy the Vezina race this year. Holtby has been in the public eye for the past few years, stealing games in the playoffs and being “almost elite” during the regular season. Now that he’s finally put it all together, he seems to have support from folks even away from Washington—and has the numbers to justify the love.

Crawford has proved he has the skill to back up his two championship rings, leading the league in wins, saves, and shutouts (7 already) while finding himself in the top six for save percentage and goals against average. As mentioned above, Schneider has catapulted his team into playoff conversation and simply deserves the recognition from his outstanding play and respectable numbers.

Roberto Luongo has been a huge part of the Panthers’ success this year, and while he has yet to win the Vezina, his career is Hall of Fame worthy. Should the Devils miss the playoffs, I can see Luongo sliding into Schneider’s spot, as their numbers line up well. When all is said and done though, this just feels like Holtby’s year. He’s turned heads since the first game of the season and hasn’t given any reason to look away.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Erik Karlsson

John Klingberg

PK Subban

Winner: Erik Karlsson

Longshot: Ryan Suter

Similar to the Hart Trophy, this one is a bit of a no-brainer and I don’t see it changing, barring an injury. Karlsson will bring in his third Norris Trophy by the time he is 26 years old, making him just the third player ever to do so, following Denis Potvin and Bobby Orr. Anytime a defensive player is in contention for the Art Ross trophy, you can expect the Norris to be close to a sure bet.

Klingberg has the third-most assists among defensemen (35) and has already exceeded his point total from last year in 12 fewer games. On a fast and offensively-minded Dallas team, Klingberg has been a rock all season and has earned a nomination. The third spot is a bit more of a toss-up, but I’m relying less on statistics to make the call. Every time I watch Montreal take the ice, Subban seems to be everywhere. He leads the cycle and his shot always seems to find its way to the net.

Ryan Suter should be in the conversation largely due to his minutes—the guy is a workhorse. He averages over 28 minutes per night (second only to Karlsson) and is an anchor that has kept the Minnesota Wild afloat during a tough few weeks.

Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Artemi Panarin

Dylan Larkin

Max Domi

Winner: Artemi Panarin

Longshot(s): Connor McDavid, Shayne Gostisbehere

Artemi Panarin has 15 more points than second-place Dylan Larkin, and has found himself solidified on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov almost all year. The Red Wings always seem to find a new key player to step up. This year it’s been Larkin. If you watched the fastest skater competition during NHL All-Star Weekend, it’s no wonder the kid is in this race with 37 points and a +25 rating.

As for the third spot, I was between Jack Eichel and Max Domi—but went with Domi because of what he’s meant to his team this year. Predicted to be at the bottom of the standings, the Coyotes are just a few points out thanks to his play. His 34 points are 4th among rookies, and I don’t see the Coyotes getting off to their fast start without his energy. Their season could have a different story without him, which I don’t think is the case in Buffalo for Eichel.

While Panarin seems to be the sure bet here thanks to his point total, it’s impossible not to count out McDavid. His goal in his return game against the Blue Jackets was a thing of beauty, and this was after a three-month hiatus nursing an injury. If he finds a rhythm and gets hot, look out.

I didn’t anticipate having a second longshot, but the recent play of Shayne Gostisbehere is too impressive to ignore. He has 28 points despite playing in only 33 games and is currently riding a nine-game point streak. Heading into this year, it was important for Philadelphia to see strong development in their group of young blue liners, and Gostisbehere has provided a whole lot of promise for the future of the franchise.

Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)

Anže Kopitar

Jonathan Toews

Patrice Bergeron

Winner: Patrice Bergeron

Longshot: Derek Stepan

We live in a world where Patrice Bergeron will always be considered a favorite for this trophy, and this year is no different. I see him taking it for the fourth time in five years. Kopitar is a dominant possession player with a CF rate (Corsi for percentage) of 56 percent despite taking most of his face-off draws in the defensive zone. Kopitar has been another player always under consideration for the award. The Selke is typically a trophy of habit—expect his name to be in the mix yet again.

Jonathan Toews is a +17, has 38 points, 45 takeaways (fifth in the league), and averages two takeaways for every giveaway . He’s one of the most responsible forwards in the league and is probably the biggest threat to Bergeron, especially after coming in second last year.

Derek Stepan joins Toews in elite company by averaging two takeaways for every giveaway, and he’s been key as the Rangers have solidified them as a top two-way team for quite a few years. His point total might not be high enough at just 22, but it’s worth throwing him in here.

Jack Adams Award (Best Coach)

John Hynes

Gerard Gallant

Barry Trotz

Winner: Gerard Gallant

Longshot: Dave Tippett

The Panthers win streak was one of the biggest stories of the season. Since then, they’ve beaten the Blackhawks, Capitals, Lightning, and Red Wings. They’ll likely make the playoffs for the second time in four years following over a decade-long absence and Gallant has the best shot at taking home the award, especially if they stay atop the division.

The Capitals certainly have a great team on paper, but Barry Trotz still deserves to be rewarded for getting the most out of that group. Even their best forwards are two-way players with Backstrom, Ovechkin, and Kuznetsov responsible at both ends of the ice.

If the Devils squeak into the playoffs then this could become Hynes’s award to lose. Nearly every preseason ranking had the Devils competing for the top lottery pick instead of the playoffs—yet here they are. He’s gotten the most out of a rag-tag group of forwards and proved that his AHL success was no fluke (his Scranton Penguins amassed the most wins in the league over his five-year tenure).

Another surprise this year is Tippett’s Coyotes, who are just out of a playoff spot. They’re 2-6-2 in their last 10 as of now, so I don’t think they’re strong candidates to advance. If they do end up making the postseason though, he’ll be in Las Vegas come the awards ceremony. If the Devils are in as well, expect Trotz to fall out of consideration, and at that point, it’s anyone’s guess.

[FBW]
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