It is about the halfway mark in the 2016-17 NHL season, as some teams have played 41 games, although teams like the Senators are still at 39. Nevertheless, you know what that means: NHL awards time!
These picks are not who I think will ultimately win, but who I think is most deserving of the award at this moment. Here they are:
Hart: Connor McDavid
I keep going back and forth on this award between McDavid and Crosby. McDavid does have more points (48 vs. 44), although Crosby has played 9 fewer games. They are pretty close in talent level, and you cannot really go wrong with either player here.
However, I’m going to use the argument that I don’t always like: McDavid has been much more valuable to the Oilers. As Dimitri Filipovic noted on the PDOCast, the Oilers are like the 2007-08 Red Wings with him on the ice, and like the 2016-17 Red Wings without him.
It isn’t Crosby’s fault that the Oilers are not as good as the Penguins, but for a tiebreaker, I lean towards McDavid. It will be quite interesting to see if Crosby catches up by the end of the year, and if he does, then may pick might change. For now though, McDavid barely wins.
Art Ross: Connor McDavid
He has the most points so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he ends the season with the most.
Rocket Richard: Sidney Crosby
This obviously is not an opinionated award; Crosby simply has the most goals so far. It’s pretty incredible that he has a four goal lead despite missing the first six games, but we should never be underestimating Crosby.
He’s on pace for 60 goals (26 in 33 games), although it’s unlikely that happens due to his high shooting percentage of 22.2%. Still though, there’s a solid chance he gets to 50, which would only be the second time he has done that.
Vezina: Devan Dubnyk
Sergei Bobrovsky has been phenomenal for Columbus this year, helping them win 16 in a row, but Dubnyk has been ever better. His .939 SV% beats Bob’s .931 SV%, and he also has the highest 5v5 SV% in the league at .949%. Bobrovsky does have 26 wins, but I despise crediting goalies for “wins,” plus Dubnyk has 21—-which is a lot in its own right.
This is Dubnyk’s to lose right now, which would have sounded crazy a few months ago.
Norris: Brent Burns
I know some Senators fans won’t want to hear this, but Burns has been better than Karlsson this season. Karlsson is still easily the best player on the Senators and probably the best defenseman overall, but he hasn’t been as good as last year, or even the year prior.
Burns has Karlsson beat in points (39 to 32), and there is a huge discrepancy is corsi (52.4 CF% to 47.6 CF% and +2.2 CF% rel to -1.0 CF% rel). Burns is simply dominant in every facet of the game, and he has been the best defenseman so far.
If not for Karlsson’s amazing efforts last year, Burns would have certainly been a viable Norris winner. As people put it for Drew Doughty last year...“It’s his time.”
Calder: Auston Matthews
This is close between Matthews and Laine, but I like Matthews’ possession numbers more. Laine relies heavily on his goal scoring and high shooting percentage (18.9%), while Matthews has carried the Leafs, as the team’s CF% with him on the ice is 52.3%, but without him it is 49.18%.
Matthews is two points behind Laine at 35 in 39 games, although Laine has played 3 more games, so they could easily end up being tied when their games played are even. And although I cannot discount how dynamic Laine has been so far, I expect him to be out for at least a few weeks with his concussion, so that will certainly factor into his case for winning the Calder.
Both of these two players are great, but to me it looks like Matthews is already driving most of the play.
Jack Adams: Joel Quenneville
I think most people would put John Tortorella here, but I just cannot bring myself to do it. Before the season began, I was never more sure of anything that Torts was a horrible coach. And yet, the Blue Jackets have been the best team in the league. I just don’t get it.
I’m going to attribute most of that success to the depth that Columbus has though, because we’ve seen how inept Tortorella can be. He’ll probably end up winning this, but he could be another coach that wins, and is subsequently fired a year or two later like Patrick Roy, Paul MacLean, and Bob Hartley.
Thats why I like Quenneville as my pick, because we all know he’s a good coach. The Blackhawks are not as good as they used to be, but they still sit 1st in their division, which is quite the accomplishment.
This is a team that has been decimated by the salary cap, and they are a very top-heavy team. They are due for some regression no doubt, but it seems like Chicago always gets contributions from players who you have never heard of coming into the season. We all thought they would not be as good this year, but they are still somehow picking up wins.
Quenneville has only won this award once, but that was during his tenure in St. Louis. He’s pretty clearly a top-3 coach in the league, so I think he should get some recognition. This award is a bit ridiculous anyway, so there are a ton of realistic options.
GM of the Year: Jarmo Kekalainen
Much like Tortorella, I don’t love giving this award to Jarmo. The Blue Jackets are still in an awful spot cap-wise, and he has made some questionable moves, but for this season, some other moves have worked.
Sam Gagner has been the best player in terms of cost per point with 30 points in 38 games, Zack Werenski has been amazing on the blueline, Seth Jones has also solidified their defense, and Alex Wennberg has played better than anyone expected. The Blue Jackets are a lock to make the playoffs, and it’s impossible to ignore them.
It feels weird giving this award to Kekalainen, but honestly it is hard to pick anyone else.
Selke: Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron has had a rough year offensively, but every single year he has been deserving of the Selke. His defensive play is elite, and he’s one of the best players in the league at possessing the puck and making his linemates better.
This is also an award that is hard to quantify, although the recent winners have been deserving of the award.
Once again, he leads the league in corsi at a whopping 61.7%, and his +9.2 CF% relative ranks 5th. The Bruins are first in the league in corsi, so the fact that he makes the team that much better when he is on the ice is incredible.
There is a case to be made for Anze Kopitar, but it seems like every year Bergeron is just slightly better in most categories, and this year is no different. Bergeron may only have 15 points (as my fantasy team would know), but his elite two-way game is still evident.
Masterton: Craig Anderson
I would normally never give a Masterton pick, but I think it’s fairly obvious that Anderson will win this, and he definitely deserves it. Nobody knows how he will perform down the stretch after missing some time, but earlier in the season he played fantastic even after his wife Nicholle’s cancer diagnosis.
Even if he just came back and played average, that would be quite an accomplishment for Anderson, as him and his family are going through an incredibly difficult time. The Masterton is always a tricky award to pick, because it’s hard to define what the league means by “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to hockey, but it’s pretty clear that Anderson has all of those qualities this season.
It will be quite touching to see him win this award in June.