The NHL Awards in Las Vegas have been postponed — and could eventually be entirely canceled — but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our own voting right here, right?!?
For some reason or another, members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) don’t get to vote on the Vezina (best goalie), Jack Adams (coach of the year), and the newly named Jim Gregory (GM of the year). But for the sake of fun during this “pause” in the NHL season due to the coronavirus pandemic, let’s vote on all of them.
Let the debate begin!
Hart Trophy (the player judged to be the most valuable to his team)
1. Leon Draisaitl: The winger has been so important to the second-place Oilers that not only did he carry them for the seven games missed by the best player in the game, Connor McDavid, but I actually learned how to spell his name correctly without looking!
2. Artemi Panarin: Watching the guy every day with the Rangers was an eye-opener to how good he is at both ends of the rink — and take the plus-36 rating for what it is. But the league-leading 71 even-strength points is indisputable, five more than Draisaitl in two less games.
3. David Pastrnak: Yes, the Bruins are very deep, and yes, Pastrnak has 38 of his 95 points on the power play. But he’s the best player on the best team, too.
Honorable mention: Nathan MacKinnon (COL), Nikita Kucherov (TBL), Alex Ovechkin (WAS)
Norris Trophy (the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position)
1. Roman Josi: It isn’t solely about his second-best 65 points in 69 games, but Josi has kept his disappointing Predators relevant and finally deserves to win this award in an outstanding and somehow under-the-radar career.
2. John Carlson: Boy that eight-year, $64 million deal that Carlson signed in the summer of 2018 is really weighing on him, huh? He leads all defenseman with 75 points in 69 games.
3. Victor Hedman: Arguably the most important defenseman to his team over the past five years, Hedman still manages to produce offensively, with 55 pointsin 66 games for the Lightning.
Honorable mention: Quinn Huges (VAN), Tory Krug (BOS), Alex Pietrangelo (STL).
Vezina Trophy (goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position)
1. Tuukka Rask: The Bruins netminder has surely benefited from the sharing the workload with the steady Jaroslav Halak, but Rask has been excellent with a league-leading .929 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average.
2. Carter Hart: All of 21 years old, Hart has given the Flyers their long-awaited answer in nets while his 2.42 goals-against average has them battling for first in the division.
3. Jacob Markstrom: The Canucks are not the most defensively responsible team, but the towering Swede earned his first All-Star appearance and emerged as a true No. 1.
Honorable mention: Connor Hellebuyck (WIN), Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL), Ben Bishop (DAL)
Selke Trophy (the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game)
1. Patrice Bergeron: Voting for anyone else besides the Bruins superlative center is just trying to find a way not to vote for the best two-way forward of his generation. Don’t overthink it.
2. Sean Couturier: The Flyers center is getting more attention with more offense in his game, but he has always been one of the best in his own zone and at the face-off dot.
3. Anthony Cirelli: Underrated center for the Lightning, getting the fifth-most penalty-kill time per game among league forwards (2:49 per) while adding a tie for secondwith a plus-28 rating.
Honorable mention: Mark Stone (VGK), Mika Zibanejad (NYR), Phillip Danault (MON)
Calder Trophy (player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL)
1. Cale Makar: This might be one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, as the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner out of UMass has made the Avalanche very happy with 50 points in 57 games on the backend.
2. Quinn Hughes: Older brother of Jack, the Devils’ No. 1-overall pick in 2019, Quinn has still lived up to his billing as the No. 7-overall pick by the Canucks from 2018. The diminutive defenseman has terrific vision, with 45 assists in 68 games.
3. Adam Fox: Another collegiate star, the Rangers lucked out with Fox, who came out of Harvard and has only gotten better as the season has gone one, adding 42 points while playing all 70 games.
Honorable mention: Victor Olofsson (BUF), Dominik Kubalik (CHI), Nick Suzuki (MTL)
Lady Byng Trophy (player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability)
1. Ryan O’Reilly: Similar to Bergeron with the Selke, something would have to drastically change for the Blues centerpiece not to earn this award every year for the foreseeable future.
2. Josh Bailey: It’s hard to think of what could actually get under the skin of the Islanders veteran forward, but the 10 penalty minutes in 68 games shows the answer to be very little.
3. Teuvo Teravainen: One of the Hurricanes young stars, the winger has 63 points in 68 games to go with a scarce eight penalty minutes. He lets Andrei Svechnikov do most of the talking and shoving.
Honorable mention: Matt Nieto (COL), James van Riemsdyk (PHI), Frans Nielsen (DET)
Jack Adams Award (coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success)
1. John Tortorella: A landslide victory for the man who has somehow kept the Blue Jackets afloat despite debilitating offseason departures and devastating in-season injuries.
2. Alain Vigneault: It would have been interesting to see how the red-hot Flyers finished the regular season, and it brings to mind Vigneault’s first year with the Rangers when they made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
3. Mike Sullivan: The Penguins have dealt with extended injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and are still fighting for playoff positioning.
Honorable mention: Bruce Cassidy (BOS), Rick Bowness (DAL), Rod Brind’Amour (CAR)
Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year
1. Joe Sakic: No complacency after losing in Game 7 of the second round a year ago, as the Avalanche GM got the most for moving Tyson Barrie to Toronto over the summer, added Andre Burakovsky from the Capitals, solidified his bottom six, and found a goaltending tandem.
2. Don Sweeney: Not easy to keep a team mostly intact after losing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, but the Boston GM was rightfully giving it another go without totally mortgaging the future.
3. Jeff Gorton: The Rangers are the model of rebuilding around the league, made quite a bit easier when the likes of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba decide they want to sign there. The future is bright on Broadway.
Honorable mention: Julien BriseBois (TBL), Chuck Fletcher (PHI), George McPhee (VGK)
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