PHWA voting, schedule, goalies and more…

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The NHL awards were handed out last night and there were no major surprise winners. We can always have healthy debates over winners, but I felt all of them were deserving. I have no issue with any of the winners, but as a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association I was a little concerned with certain ballots.

The PHWA votes on six awards: The Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke, Lady Byng and Masterton. The Masterton voting is unique, because each voter receives a write up on the representative of each NHL team and then you submit our top three choices.

The other five awards are open to include any player in the NHL who fits into the category, but you submit your top-five for each award, not three. I take voting very seriously. I research all the available stats and I also ask active and former player’s opinions on the players. I learned a lot during the voting process this year, and I found it rather enjoyable.

My concern from yesterday’s voting wasn’t about who won, but moreso how some players were not included in the top-five on specific ballots. I found this most apparent with the Norris trophy voting.

For transparency here is my ballot:

1. Drew Doughty

2. Erik Karlsson

3. P.K Subban

4. Shea Weber

5. Mark Giordano

Here are the results of the voting.

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If Giordano hadn’t missed 25% of the season due to injury, I believe he might have won. I will fully admit I put him as #5 as a reward for a great season, but I couldn’t justify that his 75% of the season was better than 97-100% of the other top defenders.

And that previous paragraph illustrates the challenge the PWHA has. They want an open process, but they don’t want to become the “thought police” for voters. Some might disagree with my premise on Giordano, but does that mean I’m wrong? Does it mean they are wrong?

I believe the overall voting of the PHWA was very accurate. There will never be a perfect process, and the PWHA is committed to improving it every year (more on that later).

I have no issue with Karlsson winning. He is an exceptional defender and his puck possession numbers are outstanding. He produced more offensive chances and points than any other D-man. I understand those who critique his defensive play, but I don’t understand the complaint “He isn’t on ice in final minute protecting a one-goal lead.” Why is the final minute more valuable than the first 59? He likely was a main contributor to putting the Senators in front. Would you rather have a guy who can protect a one-goal lead, or have the D-man who gives you the best chance of having a one-goal lead? But I digress.

I’m perplexed how Drew Doughty was only in the top-five on 126 ballots. Karlsson was on 146, Subban 143.  I can see a precise, valid argument how someone would list Karlsson and Subban ahead of Doughty.  However, I have a hard time understanding how someone could have five D-men listed ahead of Doughty. Maybe they found some statistics or video that illustrated something I didn’t see, and if so, I’d love to read it.

I find it odd Doughty could garner the most first-place votes, but have fewer top-five votes than Karlsson and Subban. The point system for votes is 10-7-5-3-1.

Doughty had 763 total votes from first and second place, but he only had 146 between third-fifth.

Karlsson had 734 votes from first and second, but finished with 230 votes between third to fifth.

Karlsson won due to more third, fourth and fifth place votes. Those votes matter and I find it strange he ended up on 20 more ballots than Doughty. I’m not sure how you solve it, or if you can, but that much of a difference between the clear top-two choices by the majority of votes seems strange.

To date, the PWHA has decided not to publish votes. I haven’t been involved in any of the executive meetings, but I do know there is some concern it (publishing votes) might impact relationships with teams, players and agents. I could see that being an issue with the Calder voting, because most players have a bonus structure that includes winning the Calder trophy and being named to the rookie all-star team. I don’t see why it would impact the other awards because most winners or finalists don’t have a contract with a bonus structure.

However, because the PWHA doesn’t publish the votes, that doesn’t mean they are doing nothing. They know the results of the votes and they know which players every voter put on their ballot. “We look for abnormalities and clear instances where the vote doesn’t pass the smell test,” explained executive vice president of the PHWA Mark Spector. Again, that doesn’t mean they are trying tell people who to vote for, but they are always trying to improve the system.

The PHWA has taken away voting privileges in the past. If you have a vote and don’t exercise it you lose the right to vote the following year. In 2013 the PHWA sent out four emails reminding voters that Alex Ovechkin played right wing that year, yet many still voted for him as a left winger, the position he had played previously. The PWHA revoked the voting rights of some members because of that error.

Personally, I’d love to see every voter publish their votes in an article, on twitter or in a blog. Not everyone will agree with my rankings, which is great for debate, but I would be willing to back up why I included the players I did. Healthy discussion is a positive thing, and because we disagree it doesn’t mean someone is always right or wrong. Overall, I thought the PHWA did a great job and got the voting right. The only thing that really stood was the absence of Doughty on so many ballots.

QUICK HITS…

  • I’m guessing the majority of Oilers fans will be happy with the Oilers schedule and the earlier start time on weekday games. The Oilers play 28 home games on Monday-Friday and 22 of them begin at 7 p.m. The other six, all Wednesdays, will start at 7:30 excluding the final home game of the year which is an 8 p.m. start on Wednesday, April 6th. I grew up with 7 p.m. starts, so I prefer them. It is also great for kids, because they can watch more before going to bed.
  • I was expecting a few more early home starts on Saturday, but that didn’t occur. The Oilers are on HNIC at 5 p.m. on Saturday for a few road games.
  • The Oilers have a tough start with five of their first six on the road, and their only home game is really just an extension of the first three road games. They begin the season in St. Louis on Thursday, October 8th, then play Saturday in Nashville, Tuesday in Dallas, home to host the Blues on Thursday, the 15th, then in Calgary on the 17th and Vancouver on the 18th.
  • My “Captain Obvious” comment is that  they need to be significantly better against the west this year. They were 0-12-4 in their first 16 games against western conference opponents. Their first win occurred December 9th in San Jose. They were ridiculously awful against the west last year, so improving won’t be difficult, but wow, just wow, were they bad when you look at that stat.
  • Young Jonathan Pitre, an Ottawa Senators fan who suffers from a rare skin condition Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), stole the show last night. His courage was inspiring and brought a tear to my eye. Jiri Hudler had the best speech. Classic.
  • Hot rumour of the day for Oilers fans is Craig Anderson could be the goalie coming to Edmonton. The goalie rumour mill is running rampant right now. Anderson is a stop gap, because when the Oilers should be legit contender he’ll be too old. He is more proven, but I’d still lean towards Talbot, especially for a second rounder.
  • Here are my other ballots. Feel free to agree or disagree with them.

Calder:
1. Aaron Ekbald
2. Johnny Gaudreau
3. Filip Forsberg
4. Mark Stone
5. John Klingberg

Selke:
1. Patrice Bergeron
2. Anze Kopitar
3. Jonathan Toews
4. David Backes
5. Ondrej Palat

Lady Byng:
1. Jiri Hudler
2. Anze Kopitar
3. Daniel Sedin
4. Logan Couture
5. Pavel Datsyuk

Hart:
1. Alex Ovechkin
2. Carey Price
3. John Tavares
4. Devan Dubnyk
5. Ryan Getzlaf

Recently by Jason Gregor:     

    • NJ

      @JG

      Why Talbot over Anderson? Considering Talbot will be a UFA after next season are you assuming he will resign here? Seems to make NO sense at all to me. Not that Anderson does either but I digress.

      • Morgo_82

        There should also be the Gretzky award for most assists in a season and the Howe award for best forward. I’ve always wondered why forwards don’t have their own award, it’s not like they can win the Norris or Vezina.

      • Batfink

        Dude, bang on. The clue is in the name. Defenseman. Not “Spare Winger Playing At The Back Man”.

        Have the Orr or Coffey for guy who sells out for offense, and the Norris for the guy that has a conscience and does his job. Or start giving the Norris to the winger who has to cover Karlsson going walk-a-bout.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        You think Anderson is going to do any better than Scrivens behind a poke check only option group of blueliners like the Oilers have?

        There’d be virtually no money left for a legitimate top pairing blueliner opportunity.

        Keep polishing up those rims/tires on your car, but that car isn’t going anywhere till you fix that transmission first.

        • NJ

          What you said. Why is Talbot this year any better than Scrivens was when we got him? Unproven but good numbers, good in short stretches as a back-up.

          Fix the defense.

          Then any goaltender will look good. Also, with the rangers going to back to back finals, how much does their defense improve a goalie … Ie: if Scrivens sits between their posts do you think his save percentage last year is sub 900?

          Strange group goalies are. Just saying.

        • vetinari

          Lighten up Quickie.

          Scrivens was an adventure and turnover machine when he left the net and Anderson is a much better puck handler. I wouldn’t be displeased if he was the guy in net for the next couple of years.

          And unless there’s been a major shift in the trade winds, I don’t think a stud #1 defenceman is on the market right now and if there was, rest assured that a big ticket forward would likely head back the other way to balance the books.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Why do writers vote on so many awards anyway?

      Rather have the players vote on them to be honest. Even Coaches/Gm’s.

      My other question is what is the makeup of the voters? Doesn’t seem fair that a certain area might have more voters resulting in certain players getting more exposure than say a Doughty who plays a lot while these voters are sleeping.

      I don’t mind the winners, but the fact that Doughty was left off so many ballets is a slap in the face. Then again a fired coach getting a vote while the Stanley Cup champion coach gets nothing isn’t exactly right either. Although why that award is done based on the regular season isn’t exactly correct either.

      Edit: Just realized the broadcast people vote on Hack Adams. Still don’t like it.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Just too much of a good thing perhaps.

      PHWA members are just people to. They hear/see all the time how great players are. They grow tired and complacent just like the rest of us. Always hearing/seeing how great such and such is for years on end wears on people.

      I’m sure people outside of Edmonton were sick and tired of how great the Oilers were in the 80’s. People, like some PHWA members probably just grow tired of certain players. The east vs west out of sight out of mind issue… like it or not there’s always personal bias involved as well. If a reporter doesn’t get along with a certain personality, he’s much less likely to support that player on a private ballot. It all gets factored in before the machine that is the PHWA spits out the most popular media recipient .

    • toprightcorner

      The morons that gave first place votes to Byfuglien and Stralman for the Norris Trophy should be put in stocks and placed on the stage at the draft and the players picked can throw rotten tomatoes at them.

      Publishing the ballots cast would bring much more accountability to the process. Same should be done with the HHOF.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Didn’t notice your votes. Tough to really go against them as you obviously spent the team. If I knew each guy did this I’d probably show more interest in awards night.

      My one question is how do you determine the Lady Byng winner? Seems like a tough one to pick.

      • Jason Gregor

        Lady Byng is difficult. Hardest one to pick and why it had the most variation amongst voters.

        And I’m not sure it is Eastern bias that cost Doughty. If you look at total votes in awards I don’t see a east bias being the reason guys lose. I’m sure it impacts a few, but also how many on PST watch EST games when they start at 4 p.m. They are busy with life and covering their own team.

        I think the majority of voting was fine. I don’t agree with those who vote Stralman as best D, especially when he isn’t even the best on his own team. I’d like that person to write out his reasoning at the very least.

    • Morgo_82

      Jason.
      Why would you think the oilers would have started more 5pm games. Yes the have McDavid, but the leauge wont screw with the Eastern conference schedule for the sake of 1 player. The east teams are the selling point for the US hockey market.

      • Jason Gregor

        They have multiple stations to show games at the same time now. Five of them in fact, and on a Saturday night in Canada showing Oilers at 7 EST with McDavid would draw more viewers on CITY for instance then them showing the NYI playing Det.

        And that is the exact reason they are showing Oilers/Predators on HNIC on the first Saturday of the season at 7 EST.

        • Jason Gregor

          There are multiple stations yes, but there are multiple eastern conference canadian teams. the oilers would have to supersede ottawa, montreal, toronto and winnipeg on those saturdays. do you think those markets would appreciate the fact a western team would continually take their time slot? doesnt make business sense.
          the east have crosby, the west has mcdavid. both can be marketed equally now.

        • vetinari

          The fact the oilers are playing nashville at 7est on the first saturday means nothing.

          Its the first HNIC of the year, they want to conjure as many ratings as possible. its not sustainable for the whole year though.

            • Leef O'Golin

              Thats not what I said at all. But can you honestly say the NHL would increase early game times for a western conference team to place eastern conference teams?

              McDavid will get enough national broadcasts on sportsnet during the week.

              Peons like you and I arent schedulers for Rogers so they probly have stats and knowledge above our pay grade.

    • Morgo_82

      My favourite winner was Ekblad, not only did he deserve to win, it was also entertaining to see all the butt hurt homer Flames fans get their panties in a knot on Twitter because of it.

    • Calder was the best. FU Johnny ‘hockey’. I can’t believe he patented his nick name half way through his first NHL season. Boo urns to that guy. He must be pretty sad. First he’s not tall enough to ride rides at the fair, now he doesn’t win the Calder as a 21 year old. Tough out there for little people.

    • Dwayne Roloson 35

      Im gonna be the one to say that Talbot will suck in Edmonton. President trophy winning team to the Oilers…

      We’ve already tried this with fasth and Scrivens. “duhhh they had good numbers on some of the best teams in the league. They have less experience combined than Dubnyk but itll work out”

      we have to give up more than 2 2nd round picks to get him. No thanks.

    • Gordie Wayne

      I agree with you, Jason, that it is odd that Doughty was not on all of the ballots. Can you comment on the following:

      1) How much lobbying do agents/teams/players do behind the scenes with PHWA voters?

      2) Also, how much do writers discuss voting with one another?

      3) How much of an impact does a player’s relationship with the media sway votes?

      FWIW, Doughty is a top 5 d-man in the NHL/world (#1 IMHO right now) so to leave him off can be viewed as an attempt at rigging the results in another player’s favor by certain PHWA members. This is why a transparent system would be better. Sure, some players might be mad, but I doubt that teams and agents would be upset for long. Being able to lever the press in negotiations and marketing is too valuable for teams and agents to toss away over a year end vote.

    • toddpaw

      PC has to bring in a goalie with credibility for reasons a) the skaters have to have confidence in that position prior to the seasons start. b) Securing UFA defense would be easier and probably cheaper if Anderson or the likes is an Oiler. c) Ottawa probably would not want to push Legwand or Greening in a deal for Anderson like they would with Robin Lehner.

      If Dallas ate some of Kari Lehtonen’s salary I think he would be a good choice and probably be gotten for a pick.

      I think Michal Neuvirth is best bet, his stats seem to improve with the more shots he faces, but waiting to secure a goalie via UFA would hamper getting better D-man.

    • Leef O'Golin

      Is it completely unrealistic to think that Laurrent Brossoit could be the Oilers starting goalie in 2 years time ?? So having Craig Anderson or any decent starting goalie around for the next 2 years wouldn’t be the end of the world. But regardless of who is in net if we don’t get better D-men it won’t matter who’s in net

    • Leef O'Golin

      Do you know if anyone is conducting a similarly exhaustive “smell test” on behalf of the broadcasters? Randy Carlyle getting a vote for the Jack Adams isn’t funny…it’s someone tossing their vote away when it could have gone to someone deserving.

    • Leef O'Golin

      I know its nice to give these guys some recognition but i just find it hard to care about these awards, I just dont really see the point. Although to be fair ive never been able to sit through more than 5 minutes of the oscars either

      • paul wodehouse

        …pretty cheap rights…be interesting as to what kind of TOP SIX money he’s going to ask

        O’Reilly would be a salary dump no? what’s the knock on him?

    • mithaman

      This was probably the tightest Calder race we’ve seen in a while. Ekblad had a monster season, Forsberg was worthy of his last name, and Stone and Johnny Hockey carried their teams on their backs into the playoffs.

      I probably would have voted for Stone, his second half of the season was up there with any superstar and it’s even more impressive as a 6th round pick.

      Anyone of them could have won though, great to see some amazing new young players entering the game.

    • paul wodehouse

      …@madjam

      from a retweet by Elliotte Friedman

      The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has acquired forward Carl Soderberg from the Boston Bruins IN EXCHANGE for a sixth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft (previously acquired from Boston).

      … I was mistaken in thinking the “rights’ part was for negotiating …wow …you’re right… cross him off coming to the Oil…wow

    • I’m not sure I get your complaint, Gregor. I’d have had Doughty no lower than 3 on my ballot, but I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out why somebody would leave him off: his team missed the playoffs, and he plays in the West. Sure it’s an individual award, but missing the playoffs trumps a lot for some people. I didn’t really believe East Coast bias was a thing until I moved to Toronto, but now that I’ve lived here a while I can tell you its definitely tough to catch those late games. Especially if your kids are waking you up at 6.