My 2015 NHL Regular Season Awards

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The NHL regular season is over, and all of the major Award finalists have been announced, besides the Jack Adams and the General Manager of the Year. Even without those two, I will still give my picks for all the major awards including the Jack Adams and GM of the Year. Everyone loves to see who is picking who around this time of year, and it generates lots of controversy. I’m sure my picks will be “idiotic” for some people, but you don’t have to agree with them.

Here is my halfway award winners, written in January. As you can see, lots has changed. Now lets see who are the winners at the end of the season.

HART TROPHY (MVP): CAREY PRICE 

FINALISTS: ALEX OVECHKIN, JOHN TAVARES

HALFWAY WINNER: TYLER SEGUIN

Even though goalies rarely even win this (much like a pitcher winning the MVP award in baseball), Price is the easy pick here. Unlike previous years, there was no standout player that was simply amazing. Not even a single player notched 90 points, and Jamie Benn led the league with 87. Alex Ovechkin cemented his legacy as a generational talent, and John Tavares stepped his game up, but still neither of them were as good as other MVP’s have been in years past.

Price single-handedly got Montreal to 1st in the division, and it’s clear that without him they wouldn’t be going places. No one player had as much of an impact on his team than Price.

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NORRIS TROPHY (BEST DEFENSEMAN): ERIK KARLSSON

FINALISTS: PK SUBBAN, DREW DOUGHTY

HALFWAY WINNER: MARK GIORDANO

The Norris debate will surely get very heated. Of course the Ottawa Senators site will give the award to a Senators player, but he was the best defenseman this year and it’s not as if that’s just wishful thinking. He led all defenseman with 21 goals and 45 assists, 6 more points than Subban, and 20 more than Doughty.

If you have watched any Senators games this year, you would know that Karlsson has been solid defensively, plus he hardly spends any time in his own zone anyway. He finished 3rd amongst defenseman in CF%, despite playing with guys like Chris Phillips and Mark Borowiecki a whole lot during the first 30 games or so. He also ranked first in Corsi For Relative %, at 14.2%, meaning that when he’s on the ice the team’s possession goes up by 14.2% compared to when he is off.

For comparison, Phillips finished dead last in this category at -16.3%. If that isn’t going through adversity, then I don’t know what is. Imagine if he had played with Marc Methot for the whole year? After all that he still has been the best defenseman this year, hands down.

VEZINA TROPHY (BEST GOALIE): CAREY PRICE

FINALISTS: DEVAN DUBNYK, PEKKA RINNE

HALFWAY WINNER: PEKKA RINNE

This one isn’t even a contest, as it should be pretty much unanimous Price wins this, considering he’ll most likely win the Hart Trophy as well. He has the main reason the Montreal Canadiens have a good record, and he’s bailed them out night in and night out. His .933 save percentage is 4 percentage points better than Dubnyk’s, and 10 above Rinne’s.

Rinne was the consensus for most of the first half, but he ended up faltering down the stretch, and even Craig Anderson finished with the same save percentage as him. Dubnyk was sensational for the Wild, but there’s absolutely no way this can’t go to Price.

Apr 26, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the warm-up in game six against Ottawa Senators of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

CALDER TROPHY (BEST ROOKIE): MARK STONE

FINALISTS: AARON EKBLAD, JOHNNY GAUDREAU

HALFWAY WINNER: FILIP FORSBERG

Here’s the thing with this years Calder Trophy: I would legitimately vote for any one of four players to win it, and it wouldn’t be crazy at all. Forsberg had an amazing first half, and tailed off near the end of the season. He only finished two points behind Stone and Gaudreau in scoring, but he was left off the ballot because of that. Even John Klingberg could be considered, but because of how strong this years class is he probably wasn’t given too much thought.

My pick is Stone, and of course I am a bit biased here. But I saw him every game in the second half of the season, and he completely changed the team. He was the most dominant player out there at times, and it’s not just his point totals that will impress people. I think at some point he could be nominated for a Selke trophy, because he’s that good off the puck. He led rookies in scoring (more goals than Gaudreau), and it’s hard to pick against him.

At the same time, if you picked Ekblad or Gaudreau I really can’t argue too much. It’s a fantastic crop of players, and they are all deserving. I just think Stone had the biggest impact because he was essentially the second biggest reason Ottawa got into the playoffs. As dumb as it is, voters usually base MVP votes off of “did he take his team to the playoffs?” If that’s the case, then why should the Calder be any different? If voters think that way, then perhaps Ekblad will be deducted points a bit.

Picking a Selke winner is always hard, but you really can never go wrong with Bergeron

SELKE TROPHY (BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD): PATRICE BERGERON

FINALISTS: ANZE KOPITAR, JONATHAN TOEWS

HALFWAY WINNER: N/A

This years Selke winner is a complete toss-up, because all three candidates are so closely bunched in several categories. All of them have superb possession numbers, and it’s hard to pick just one. Bergeron had the highest defensive zone start percentage among the three at 38.2%, and he also had the highest corsi relative at +9.6%.

He was also the best at suppressing shots and shot attempts, with an almost perfect score using corsi against and fenwick against rates on the site Ownthepuck.blogspot.ca. Picking a Selke winner is always hard, but you really can never go wrong with Bergeron. He is absolutely fantastic in his own zone.

LADY BYNG (MOST SPORTSMANLIKE): PAVEL DATSYUK

FINALISTS: ANZE KOPITAR, JIRI HUDLER

HALFWAY WINNER: PATRICK KANE

Do any of us really know what the NHL bases this trophy off of? I mean obviously the main thing is low penalty totals, but besides that you pretty much have to be a player or referee to know who is sportsmanlike and who isn’t. Considering that Datsyuk had the lowest penalty minutes though (although with fewer games) and he has won it four times, I have to give it to him.

Laviolette was able to bring the best out in his team, and he got more offensive production than was expected

JACK ADAMS (BEST COACH): PETER LAVIOLETTE (NSH)

FINALISTS (UNCONFIRMED): ALAIN VIGNEAULT (NYR), BOB HARTLEY (CGY)

HALFWAY WINNER: PETER LAVIOLETTE

In January I picked Laviolette as my Jack Adams winner, and I can’t see why I would change it. The Nashville Predators weren’t supposed to even be near the playoffs, yet they finished second in the ultra competitive Central Division, ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks and almost finished first. Sure they got knocked out by Chicago, but this award is based on the regular season.

Laviolette was able to bring the best out in his team, and he got more offensive production than was expected. There are some good candidates like Vigneault and Hartley as well, but I feel like Laviolette did the best with what he had, and someone like Hartley coached a team that didn’t actually play that great but has somehow been winning.

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: GARTH SNOW (NYI)

FINALISTS (UNCONFIRMED): STEVE YZERMAN (TBL), KEVIN CHEVELDAYOFF (WPG)

HALFWAY WINNER: GARTH SNOW

I had Snow as my winner in January also, and I’ll keep it the same. The Islanders were ousted in the first round, but they were very close against a good Washington Capitals team. I still have to give Snow a lot of credit for bringing in a starter like Jaroslav Halak, getting two top pairing players in Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, as well as free agent signings like Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin along with the integration as some younger players too.

He has made some awful moves before (like the Matt Moulson/Thomas Vanek trade), but for the time being he has saved himself. This is a good Islanders team, and they are certainly on the rise.

SUMMARY

All in all, from January I have changed my picks a lot, because so many things changed since then. The only two winner I kept the same were Peter Laviolette and Garth Snow, and some of my previous winners are not even nominated for the award now. It’s always interesting to see who wins, and I’m sure there will be plenty of debate until that time.

I would bet that Ottawa comes away with at least one winner from this, and I think that will be Erik Karlsson. Stone still has a shot, but the Calder race is so wide open. Until June, all we can do is debate why me or somebody else in stupid for giving certain picks. Can’t wait to see the winners!

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