For the first time since the 1960s, the PHWA has compiled NHL mid-season awards.
It is amazing how different the results look from last year. Not just the winners, but even those finishing in the top-three in many categories.
It is a smaller sample size than the end-of-season rankings, and there is still a lot of hockey left, so I’m sure we will see some names change before June, but I liked having a vote. It was good to start researching earlier and getting feedback from different players. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment sections on who you liked, and of course you can tell me where I was wrong.
They asked us to submit a top-five, but only announced the top-three winners for mid-season. I’ll list the winners, followed by my ballot.
HART– to the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team.
1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
3. John Tavares, New York Islanders
I don’t like the wording of the Hart, but I voted based on it. I’d rather it be for the most outstanding, not most valuable to his team. MacKinnon doesn’t have Steven Stamkos and I had Gaudreau ahead of Tavares due to Flames’ lack of scoring depth compared to the Islanders. Klingberg leading his team in scoring ahead of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin is impressive.
None of last year’s top-five players were in the top-three this year: McDavid, Crosby, Bobrovsky, Burns and Karlsson.
Norris Trophy – to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position.
1. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
3. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
If we are voting on history, Doughty and Hedman are for sure better, but I vote on this year and Klingberg’s first half has been exceptional. I don’t think he is better than Hedman or Doughty, but for 48 games he’s been outstanding.
Last year’s top-five was Burns, Karlsson, Hedman, Keith and Suter. It illustrates who many really good D-men there are in the league.
Selke Trophy – to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
3. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
3. J. Schwartz
Bergeron wins this easily. Marchand has really improved his overall play, outside of delivering unnecessary cheap shots. Schwartz has been exceptional for the Blues and when he was out their top line wasn’t nearly as effective.
Many new faces again, except Bergeron who won it last year. The second-fifth finishers last season were Kesler, Koivu, Backlund and Toews.
Calder Trophy – to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.
1. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
2. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
3. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
Oilers fans will cringe and the Oilers scouts should as well watching Barzal emerge as one of the most exciting players in the game. This was the easiest category for me. The top-three have been excellent.
Lady Byng Trophy – to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.
1. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
O’Reilly plays against the league’s best players and never takes penalties. He plays hard, but disciplined. I’ve long felt D-Men are overlooked for this award. They play more minutes, and defending makes them more susceptible to penalties. When a guy like Klingberg plays as well as he does and within the rules, I find it impressive.
Gaudreau won last year and is a the top choice again. Tarasenko, Granlund, Hossa and Klefbom rounded out last year’s top-five.
Vezina Trophy – to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position.
1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
3. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
4. F. Andersen
Vasilevskiy has been the best. Lundqvist has put up great numbers behind a suspect defence. Hellebuyck has been very solid, and if Crawford wasn’t injured I’d likely have him higher.
A completely different top five from last season. Bobrovsky, Holtby, Price, Talbot and Dubnyk.
Jack Adams Award – to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.
1. Gerard Gallant, Vegas Golden Knights
2. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets
Gallant was #1 by a mile and of all the awards I’d say he is a lock to win at season’s end as well.
Last year’s three finalists were Tortorella, Babcock and McLellan, with Tortorella winning.
GM of the Year Award – to the General Manager adjusted to have contributed most to his team’s
1. George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights
2. Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils
I based it on moves from July 1st until now. Obviously McPhee wins because he built and entire team and has them leading the west. Sakic was very patient and ended up getting a lot for Matt Duchene. Poile is never afraid to make big moves and bringing in Turris was great. Shero made many great moves to make the Devils competitive and Nill made many big moves as well that has the Stars back in the playoffs.
Last season’s three finalists were Poile, Chiarelli and Dorion. Things have gone the wrong direction quickly for Chiarelli and Dorion.
Rod Langway Award – to the defenseman who best excels in the defensive aspect of the game.
1. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
2. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
This isn’t an actual award, and I found it the most difficult to vote on. You can watch highlights and look at stats, but I found it best to talk to different players. Vlasic’s gap control is the best in the league for me.
I likely had Doughty too low, because part of me was looking for more defensive D-men, who don’t get accolades.
Comeback Player of the Year Award – to the player who returned to a previous high level of performance that was interrupted by subpar play, long-term injury or major illness.
1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils
3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Stamkos only played 17 games last year, and he’s been excellent. Boyle’s battle from Cancer has been an excellent story while Giroux and Hall have rebounded from subpar seasons.
Do you think anyone was overlooked?
And what a difference seven months makes for the Edmonton Oilers. Last year McDavid, Talbot, Klefbom, Chiarelli and McLellan were finalists, with McDavid walking away with the Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay. This year no Oilers were close in any category.
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