Roundtable: Predicting the NHL Awards with one month left in the 2023-24 season

Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
30 days ago
The snow is melting and the playoffs are approaching. With less than one month left to play in the 2023-24 season, we took a look at the leading candidates to take home hardware at this summer’s NHL Awards.

Hart Memorial Trophy

Baggedmilk: As much as I want to say Connor McDavid is going to win again — I will not bet against him, btw — I think Nathan MacKinnon has it this year. The guy is playing out of his mind right now, and I think he’ll get the votes to win.
Zach Laing: It should be Connor McDavid. He’s the best player in the NHL, and the award is for the best player in the league. But since it’s a narrative trophy, it’ll be Nathan MacKinnon, who is more than deserving of winning his first Hart Trophy. He’s having an incredible year.
Cam Lewis: Nathan MacKinnon is having the best season of his career and he’ll wind up with his first Hart Trophy when it’s all said and done. He’s leading the league in scoring with 116 points and has been involved in nearly half of the goals the Colorado Avalanche have scored this season.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Nathan MacKinnon. It’s looking like he’s going to lead the league in scoring and he’s had a really damn good season right from the jump. He’s surrounded by a lot of talent but he’s been on a level that we’ve never seen from him and I think when you factor in how consistent he’s been, it’s  pretty easy to say that he’s been the best player in the league this season.

Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies

Baggedmilk: I’ll guess MacKinnon wins the Art Ross, but only by a single point over Kucherov and/or McDavid. As for the Rocket Richard, I think Matthews has that one in the bag, though his goal-scoring has slowed down considerably over the last few weeks.
Zach Laing: I’ll never bet against Connor McDavid for the Art Ross, and I don’t think anyone is catching Auston Matthews.
Cam Lewis: Auston Matthews is leading the way with 55 goals and it seems unlikely anyone will catch him at this point. The scoring race will wind up being won by MacKinnon, but he, Connor McDavid, and Nikita Kucherov will all be within a few points of each other.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Listen, I never want to count out Connor McDavid, but the gap is pretty big right now and while McDavid has some games in hand, MacKinnon has been scoring at an unreal pace and I’m not sure if he’s going to slow down. I don’t think there’s enough time in the season for Connor to close the gap. For the Rocket, the gap is too big here. Assuming he stays healthy, Matthews has this locked up.

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Baggedmilk: Quinn Hughes. The guy is having a great year for the Canucks and he’s also putting up a ton of points, which we know will go a long way come ballot time. I think Huges will edge out Makar for the award simply because he would be a first-time winner, and there’s a good storyline in that. I’ve seen the script. Trust me.
Zach Laing: Quinn Hughes is having a tremendous season on the coast, and is deserving of it this year. He’s been a huge reason for the Canucks’ success.
Cam Lewis: If not for the season that Nathan MacKinnon is having, Quinn Hughes would likely be receiving more hype for the Hart Trophy. He has 77 points in 68 games and has been a driving force behind the Vancouver Canucks coming out of nowhere and leading the Pacific Division. Cale Makar might finish with more points than Hughes, but Vancouver’s captain has been the better all-around defender this year. Another name worth mentioning is Gustav Forsling of the Florida Panthers, who has an impossible 57-to-26 goal differential at even strength.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Cale Makar. He has the highest PPG in the league among defensemen and I think he’s been better defensively than Hughes. It feels like a two-horse race, and right now, I’m giving the edge to Makar. Roman Josi is creeping into the conversation though.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Vezina Trophy

Baggedmilk: Connor Hellebuyck leads all goaltenders in GAA and save percentage and is a huge reason the Jets are having the season they are. For my money, he’s the best goalie in the league right now.
Zach Laing: Hellebuyck has this one all locked up. My runner-ups? Thatcher Demko, Joey Daccord, and Jacob Markstrom.
Cam Lewis: Connor Hellebuyck and Thatcher Demko have played huge roles on two teams doing better than expected and it looks like the Vezina Trophy will be a race between the two of them. If the Seattle Kraken crawl into the playoffs, Joey Daccord should get a long look, as he quietly owns a .919 save percentage over 42 games.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Another chalky pick from me, but it’s been that kind of year. Thatcher Demko getting hurt has taken him out of it in my eyes and Connor Hellebuyck leads in every major statistical category. Honestly, he should get some Hart votes.

Calder Memorial Trophy

Baggedmilk: Probably Connor Bedard, even though he didn’t play every game, and we know how the league feels about that when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers. *cough* Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid *cough*
Zach Laing: It’s Bedard, but I’m kind of confused. Isn’t missing games supposed to hurt a rookie’s chances of winning the Calder Trophy?
Cam Lewis: Despite missing a few weeks due to injury, Connor Bedard still leads rookie scoring by a pretty decent margin and seems like a slam dunk for the Calder Trophy. Goaltenders Joel Hofer and Sam Ersson should get some love, as should defenceman Brock Faber, but no rookie has been better than the 18-year-old phenom.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Another easy one! Brock Faber has been sensational but Bedard is the guy this year. His production on an awful roster is stunning. He’s getting this award.

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Jack Adams Award

Baggedmilk: This thing is Rick Tocchet’s to lose, isn’t it? I think people probably expected Vancouver to be a playoff team this season, but no one saw them flying up to first place and building a points lead the way they have.
Zach Laing: Let’s give some love to Kris Knoblauch here, folks. The Oilers are 37-12-3 under him, and their .740 points percentage is a good clip above the Jets’ .709 since Nov. 13. And over that time, the Oilers have been among the best teams at 5v5 from an analytical standpoint, too:
  • 54.32 percent shot attempt share (3rd)
  • 2.97 goals for per hour (2nd)
  • 2.1 goals against per hour (4th)
  • 58.6 percent goal share (2nd)
  • 3.14 expected goals for per hour (1st)
  • 2.42 expected goals against per hour (9th)
  • 56.43 expected goal share (2nd)
Cam Lewis: Given the shocking season the Vancouver Canucks have had, it really feels like Rick Tocchet’s trophy to lose. Another name worth mentioning is Paul Maurice, as the Florida Panthers are having a fantastic season after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last spring. They’ve gone from a bottom-third team in terms of goals against to one of the better defensive clubs in hockey this season.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Here’s a different one — Torts in Philly. I know Rick Tocchet has been an incredible story and he’s seen as the leader in this race but what John Tortorella has done with a much less talented roster is wildly impressive. They even lost their starting goalie and haven’t missed a beat really. There have been tough stretches, no one is pretending that there hasn’t been, but Tortorella’s impact on that team and the culture is clear.

Presidents’ Trophy

Baggedmilk: For the second straight year, it’s going to be the Boston Bruins. They’re regular-season killers, and it’s happening again in 2023-24.
Zach Laing: Gimme the Carolina Hurricanes. They’ve got a big of ground to make up, but they’re 5-1 since Evgeny Kuznetsov joined the lineup, and 3-1 since Jake Guentzel did. Those trades have rejuvenated that group, and they’re going to be a problem.
Cam Lewis: The Panthers. They’re one point behind the Boston Bruins for top spot in the Atlantic Division and NHL standings with one game in hand and they have a pretty light schedule the rest of the way.
Tyler Yaremchuk: They’re right at the top right now in terms of points percentage and considering how well Igor Shesterkin has been playing for the last bit, I don’t think the New York Rangers will slow down.

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