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.
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.
- 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.
1. Aaron Ekbald
2. Johnny Gaudreau
3. Filip Forsberg
4. Mark Stone
5. John Klingberg
1. Patrice Bergeron
2. Anze Kopitar
3. Jonathan Toews
4. David Backes
5. Ondrej Palat
1. Jiri Hudler
2. Anze Kopitar
3. Daniel Sedin
4. Logan Couture
5. Pavel Datsyuk
1. Alex Ovechkin
2. Carey Price
3. John Tavares
4. Devan Dubnyk
5. Ryan Getzlaf
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Which goalie is the best fit
- Countdown to the draft
- Todd Nelson: I’m a head coach
- Markstrom or Lack?
- Oilers: Emotional vs. Rational
- Monday Musings: Oilers and offer sheets
- Bob Green talks scouting and the draft