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Oilersnation Roundtable: Predicting the 2023-24 NHL Awards
By Cam Lewis18 days ago
We’re at the All-Star Break, which is pretty much the unofficial halfway point of the 2023-24 NHL season.
While we wait for the second half of the season to get started, let’s make some predictions about who will wind up winning the league’s major awards when things are all said and done.
The Hart Trophy – Most Valuable Player
Baggedmilk: As much as I want to be a homer and say Connor McDavid is going to get it again, I think the year Nathan MacKinnon is having will probably land him the Hart Trophy. The guy is ripping it up and ultimately deserves it.
Zach Laing: Hard to argue with what Nathan MacKinnon’s done, with 31 goals and 84 points in 49 games. He has 18 more points than his nearest teammate, Mikko Rantanen, and 26 more than the third-placed Cale Makar.
Cam Lewis: Nathan MacKinnon hasn’t won a Hart Trophy yet and he should win one before the end of his career. This seems like the year that it’ll happen.
The Art Ross Trophy – Leading Scorer
Baggedmilk: I think MacKinnon will win it but only by a small margin. I’m expecting Connor McDavid to go on his back half heater and that could put him in the mix.
Zach Laing: Nikita Kucherov is going to put up a good fight, and for as electric as Connor McDavid is down the stretch run of any season, he’s facing a 17 point deficit.
Cam Lewis: To continue from my answer to the first category, I’d go with MacKinnon here. He has 84 points in 49 games and is on a mission this year.
The Rocket Richard Trophy – Most Goals
Baggedmilk: Auston Matthews. The guy is scoring goals en masse, and it’s honestly impressive.
Zach Laing: It’s Matthews’ to lose.
Cam Lewis: Sam Reinhart being an impending free agent will push him over the top in the goal race with Auston Matthews.
The Norris Trophy – Top Defenceman
Baggedmilk: I’ll say Quinn Hughes. At the time of this post, Hughes already has 62 points and we know how the voters love points.
Zach Laing: Much like with Matthews and the Richard, this one is Hughes’ to lose.
Cam Lewis: It’s going to be pretty difficult for anybody to catch Quinn Hughes, who might wind up winning the Norris unanimously. He’s ninth in NHL scoring with 62 points in 49 games, a pace of 104 points over 82 games.
The Vezina Trophy – Top Goaltender
Baggedmilk: I think it will be Connor Hellebuyck. The guy is a big part of the reason the Jets are having the season they are, and without him, it probably doesn’t happen at all.
Zach Laing: Hellebuyck and Demko each have great cases, but I’m going to go off the board a bit with Stuart Skinner. Nobody has more wins in the crease than he since the Oilers made their coaching change, and his 19.52 goals saved above expected over that stretch are third to Jacob Markstrom (20.16) and Hellebuyck (26.68).
Cam Lewis: It feels like a battle between Connor Hellebuyck and Thatcher Demko, two goalies have excellent seasons on teams doing better than most expected. Considering voter fatigue, I’d put my money on Demko.
The Calder Trophy – Top Rookie
Baggedmilk: Since Bedard got hurt and will miss a big chunk of the season, I’ll give the Calder to Brock Faber. He’s putting up a bunch of points as a defenceman in Minnesota — he’s second in rookie scoring behind Bedard — and I think it will earn him the call.
Zach Laing: Despite missing Chicago’s last 11 games, Bedard still has a four-point lead in the rookie scoring race. I love BaggedMilk’s suggestion of Faber, but another Minnesota Wild rookie catching my eye is Marco Rossi. 13 goals and 28 games in 49 games is nothing to scoff at, and his on-ice impacts are stronger than that of Bedard, according to hockeyviz.com.
Cam Lewis: It’ll still likely wind up being Connor Bedard, who leads rookies with 15 goals and 33 points despite having missed a few weeks on the Injured Reserve. If the St. Louis Blues have a hot second half and goaltender Joel Hofer is a big part of it, he could snatch the Calder from Bedard.
The Jack Adams Award – Best Coach
Baggedmilk: Kris Knoblauch. The way he’s turned the Oilers’ season around has been unbelievable. Of course, the players are playing better and that’s a major factor, but it’s hard to ignore the record he has behind the bench.
Zach Laing: Only one Oilers head coach has won the Jack Adams award, and it was Glen Sather in the 1985-86 season. Kris Knoblauch will change that.
Cam Lewis: If the Oilers can win the Pacific Division, it ought to be Kris Knoblauch for Edmonton’s turnaround. But if the Vancouver Canucks are able to hang onto that spot, it’ll surely go to Rick Tocchet. Nobody expected the Canucks to have a season like this.
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