With the league returning from the completely predictable All-Star festivities (I didn’t see the game but can only presume that John Scott screwed the whole thing up, since that’s what Gary Bettman implied would happen), there’s no time like the present to look back at the first 50 games and take stock of the NHL season that’s been so far. And since the only thing better than arbitrary lists or rankings is many arbitrary lists or rankings, we here at Hockey Graphs have put together our picks for each of the end of season major awards.
Writers who chose to participate (read: those who both said they would do it and also submitted their votes by the arbitrary deadline) include:
Micah McCurdy (Micah only voted for the Norris but we kept his vote anyways because it was the correct vote)
Each author provided their top 3 picks for the Hart, Vezina, Norris, Selke, Calder, Adams and GM of the Year Award (we decided to vote on this before realizing that no one cared or had any idea what criteria to use, but you get to see the results anyways – lucky you), with 3 points being awarded for a first place vote, 2 for a second, and 1 for a third. Each author was also asked to provide a one sentence rationale for their picks, an instruction which was not adhered to in the slightest. The best rationales (or a few arbitrarily selected rationales, depending on who you ask) are provided alongside the ballots, to make your agreement with us significantly easier.
The top 3 contenders for each award are presented below. For those of you who are interested in the full ballots including the aforementioned rationales of varying lengths and quality, they are available here, for your mockery and/or admiration. As always, please direct all questions or complaints to the appropriate authority.
Awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team.
- Erik Karlsson – 27 Points (9 first place votes)
- Patrick Kane – 10 Points (1)
- Alexander Ovechkin – 9 Points
“Karlsson is playing on a different, lonely, planet.”
“Karlsson’s play is literally beyond compare. Emmanuel Perry’s similarity scores app shows the closest comparable season to EK65’s 2015-16 is less than an 88% match. Incredible.”
Awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s goaltender who is adjudged to be the best at this position.
- Braden Holtby – 22 Points (6 first place votes)
- Cory Schneider – 19 Points (2)
- Petr Mrazek – 12 Points (2)
“While Mrazek has put up better numbers, I just cannot get over the life that Holtby has given his team. Sorry it’s a bit ‘eye-test’, but sometimes the “big saves” are what a team needs to light a fire under them so they go out and score the winning goal. Holtby does that over and over. He’s only lost 5 games! While goalies can’t win games, they sure as heck can lose them and he’s got 5! Losses! Total! The only other goalies with that few losses are backups or Kari Lehtonen who has 17 fewer games under his belt.”
“Mrazek has a great case here, but an extrapolated potential games played gap makes him just fall short…for now. Holtby’s fallen a bit, but was so ridiculous for first 30 games, while Lu, Crow, Flower, King all have claims.”
Awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.
- Erik Karlsson – 32 Points (11 first place votes)
- Brent Burns – 14 Points
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 6 Points
“attack of the swedes
silky smooth like ikea (???)
bestå malm fjellse”
– Dom Luszczyszyn (Editor’s Note: I jokingly invited author’s to submit their rationale in the form of a haiku; Dom was the only one to take the suggestion seriously)
“Yes this is just scoring, but defenders who aren’t sufficiently defensively responsible for the norris don’t get the minutes necessary to accumulate points so that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”
“He’s my vote for the Norris and the Hart as no one is more important to his team when he’s on the ice. Also, no one’s impact is missed as much as when 65 is off the ice either. Karlsson’s Relative CF% is 8.9, tops in the league. And though I’m not a fan of comparing relative stats across teams, this really highlights how much of a mess Ottawa is without him on the ice. He’s also at the top of the defense leaderboard in points/60.”
Awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
- Patrice Bergeron – 19 Points (4 first place votes)
- Tie: Anze Kopitar – 10 Points (1)/Joe Thornton – 10 Points (1)
“Hasn’t this been renamed the “Bergeron Award” yet?”
Awarded annually to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.
- Artemi Panarin – 24 Points (7 first place votes)
- Dylan Larkin – 12 Points (2)
- Colton Parayko – 6 Points
“Panarin benefits from the obvious chemistry with Kane. But he is a polished player taking advantage of an opportunity. He is way out in front in my opinion. Parayko has kind of quietly been really good.”
“Panarin is just putting up points in a way no other rookie can match. He’s crazy good, has great chemistry with his linemates, and is basically everything the Blackhawks were expecting. Both he & Larkin are getting the benefit of playing with guys much more experience, and are great finishers themselves, which is something of which Eichel hasn’t had the luxury. Eichel may be “disappointing” people as a rookie scorer, but the Sabres aren’t done rebuilding; when he gets some consistent linemates, I expect him to “pop” like Barkov did this year.”
Jack Adams Award
Awarded annually to the National Hockey League coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.
- Barry Trotz – 14 Points (3 first place votes)
- John Hynes – 13 Points (3)
- Gerard Gallant – 6 (2)
“Never has had as much talent as he does now in Washington and he’s running away with the East. This team should breeze to the Stanley Cup Finals and be a match for the Stars or Kings or whomever else they meet.”
“Yes, he has a talented roster, but this is a team that’s 10 points up on every club in their conference at the All-Star break and has a 4 point cushion with 6 games in hand on the nearest team in the West. They’ve just been too damn good to not give Barry Trotz his due this year.”
General Manager of the Year
Awarded annually to the top National Hockey League general manager as voted by “a 40-member panel that included all 30 general managers, five NHL executives and five media members.”
- Jim Nill – 24 Points (6 first place votes)
- Ron Hextall – 13 Points (1)
- Brian MacLellan – 12 Points (2)
“Nill is obviously my choice for this – Patrick Sharp has 40 points already, neither Daley nor Garbutt are still with the Blackhawks (and the Stars still have Stephen Johns in the AHL), the team still has plenty of cap space, rookie Janmark, who he traded for last year (for another player who is no longer even in the NHL) is arguably the best defensive forward on the squad, he signed Klingberg to a $4.25m 7 year contract over the summer, and signed UFA Johnny Oduya for less money than he was offered elsewhere (he is also having an excellent year with the Stars).
So I choose Nill, though MacLellan’s smart moves – adding Justin Williams and trading for TJ Oshie – are a large part in why the team is doing so well this season. Hextall has done a ton this year in undoing the mistakes of his predecessor, but it’s not likely enough to see real success this season.”