Who doesn’t love predictions? I won’t be talking about the standings today, but instead I’ll go over the NHL awards for the 2016-17 season. Please refer to this at the end of the year and call me a genius/idiot when some of these are spot on and some are completely off.
Here they are!
Hart: Connor McDavid
At the moment, Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world. He has been since he came into the league, and after a brief lull, he’s been as good as ever. However, McDavid could end up being just as good as Crosby was in his early career. The Oilers still might not be a good team, but he has skilled players around him that can help him score a ton of points.
He had 48 points in 45 games last year, so I see no reason why he can’t hit 90-95 points, which can be the best in the NHL nowadays. By Spring, we could be anointing McDavid as the best in the world.
Art Ross: Connor McDavid
Norris: Shea Weber
I’m sorry, what? Yes, you read this right. Weber will win the Norris. Erik Karlsson is still the best defensman in the game, but he’s never going to get the love he deserves. Last year included months of the “it’s Doughty’s time” narrative, and it’s easy to see the same thing happening to Weber because he’s yet to win a Norris as well.
The Canadiens will be a playoff team, and much of the credit will be given to Weber.
Vezina: Cory Schneider
Schneider is still criminally underrated in the game, even though he’s had the best save percentage in the league over the past six seasons. The Devils still probably aren’t a playoff team, but if Schneider puts up godly numbers, it’ll be impossible to ignore him. Hopefully his lack of wins doesn’t shy voters away. He’s the real deal.
Rocket Richard: Alexander Ovechkin
Why bet against him? With 50 goals last year, the next closest to him was Patrick Kane with 46, and there were only three other 40 goal scorers besides him. He has hit the 50 goal mark three seasons in a row, and even in the lockout season he had 32 in 48 games, which prorates to 55 in a full season. He isn’t slowing down just yet.
Calder: William Nylander
I have to admit...I really love Nylander. I think he is going to be a phenomenal player. He’s a year older than Auston Matthews, and I can see Nylander being just a bit better than his two rookie teammates. He finished the year with 11 points in his final 12 games, and that gave us a glimpse of how good he can be.
I can certainly see him getting 50-60 points this year, with Marner and Matthews trailing behind him. There aren’t too many obvious candidates for the Calder besides this trio of Leafs players, and I like Nylander the best for this season.
Frank J. Selke: Patrice Bergeron
Anze Kopitar won is last year, but let’s be honest: Bergeron has always been the best two-way centre in the game. This is a hard award to predict, but I’m just going to go with the player that ultimately should win. If the Bruins make the playoffs for the first time in three years, it can only help his case.
Jack Adams: Todd McLellan (Edmonton)
Every damn year I predict the Oilers to finally break the slump and make the playoffs. By predicting McDavid to win the Hart, I might as well double down and say that McLellan wins the Jack Adams after Edmonton sneaks in for a playoff spot. I’ll hardly look like a genius if this happens though, since I’ve consistently over-projected them. Nevertheless, I could see this happening if Edmonton does make it in.
GM of the Year: Tom Rowe (Florida)
There isn’t another team in the league that impressed me so much over the summer. I think the Panthers are going to win the division again, and Rowe deserves a lot of credit for that. He signed Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, and James Reimer, got rid of Erik Gudbranson, swapped Dmitri Kulikov for Mark Pysyk (while also getting picks), and signed players like Jonathan Huberdeau, Reilly Smith, Aaron Ekblad, Alex Barkov, and Vincent Trochek to long-term deals. Quite the off-season.
Brian Campbell will be a big loss, but Florida’s defense corps looks like one of the best in the East. They should be a force in the Atlantic this season.