NHL Awards Predictions

Now that the 2016/2017 NHL season has come to a close, the inevitable awards discussions have started. Some of the awards have already been decided, such as the Art Ross, which went to Connor McDavid, who lead the league with 100 points, or the Maurice Richard, which went to Sidney Crosby, who lead the league with 44 goals. Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals will be taking home the William M. Jennings Trophy as the Capitals lead the league in fewest goals allowed. However some awards have not been decided, such as the Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder, and Jack Adams. I will be making some predictions on those awards.

Hart

The nominees: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Connor McDavid lead the league with 100 points, scoring 30 goals and 70 assists. He was a full 11 points ahead of the 2nd place Sidney Crosby. He was consistently scoring all season, with his lowest scoring months being 12 points, in October and December, and his highest scoring months being November and March, when he scored 19 points. He lead the league in assists and points per game, and was a positive possession player with a 5v5 CF% of 53.04, an 5v5 xGF% of 56.11, and he factored in to 40.5% of all the Oilers offense this year. Needless to say, McDavid took over the league this year, and ran away with the Art Ross Trophy.

Sidney Crosby lead the league with 44 goals, and was tied for second in points with 89 points. He became the first person not named Alexander Ovechkin to lead the league in goals since the 2011/2012 season, and picked up his second Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy, which he won in 2009/2010, although he shared it with Steven Stamkos that year. He was a positive possession player with a 5v5 CF% of 53.89 and a 5v5 GF% of 55.51, and he factored in to 31.6% of his teams offense this year. He finished second in the league for points per game with 1.19, after missing the first few games with a concussion. He got off to a blazing start this year, scoring 26 goals in his first 32 games played. However, Crosby cooled off a little bit towards the end of the year, only scoring 18 goals in his final 43 games, but a goal in October is the same as a goal in March, and needless to say, Crosby scored a lot of them.

Patrick Kane finished tied for Crosby for points this year with 89, following a tremendous season last year in which he took home the Art Ross, Hart, and Ted Lindsay Trophies for leading the league with 106 points. He had an astounding 22 points in 16 games in March, and was third in the league in points since February 1st, scoring 40 points in 30 games, behind McDavid and Nikita Kucherov’s 41 points, also in 30 games. He was also a positive possession player with a 5v5 CF% of 51.53 and but had a 5v5 GF% of 46.59, and was a part of 36.5% of the Blackhawks offense this year. Although he didn’t have as strong possession numbers as McDavid or Crosby, Kane’s point totals surely add him to the conversation.

Honorable Mentions: Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning, Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

The Winner: The winner will likely be Connor McDavid, as it’s hard not to pick the guy who lead the league in points in his first full season.

Norris

The nominees: Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Brent Burns led all defensemen this year with 29 goals and 76 points, finishing 9th in league scoring. His 29 goals are the most since Mike Green’s 31 goal season in 2008/2009. He was a positive possession player with a 5v5 CF% of 53.71, and a 5v5 xGF% of 51.76. Now Burns did slow down a bit near the end, with only 2 goals and 10 points in his final 20 games as San Jose started to falter, but even though San Jose limped into the playoffs, Burns still lead all defensemen in points.

Erik Karlsson finished tied for second among defensemen in goals with 17, second in points per game with 0.92, and third in points with 71. Although his 5v5 CF% was just below 50 with 49.72, but he had a 5v5 xGF% of 50.34. However, Ottawa isn’t that strong of a possession team, ranking 22nd in 5v5 CF%, and 20th in 5v5 xGF%. Although Karlsson didn’t have as strong of a season as he did last year, when he scored 82 points, Ottawa made the playoffs this year, and Karlsson’s impact was clear when he went down with an injury late in the year and Ottawa went on to go 3-3-1 and losing ground on the race for first in the Atlantic. He was 4th in TOI/Game with 26:50, and took a good step forward defensively.

Victor Hedman finished second in points among defensemen this year, with 72 points in 79 games, for a points per game of 0.91, third among defensemen, only behind Burns and Karlsson. Hedman finished off the season strong with 25 points in his final 25 games as a Tampa Bay team ravaged by injuries pushed for the final playoff spot in the East, only to fall short. Hedman had a 5v5 CF% of 53.36, and a 5v5 xGF% of 51.98, pushing the possession needle in the right direction. He lead all Tampa Bay defensemen with 24:30 minutes per game, and was 50 points ahead of the next highest scorer among defensemen on Tampa Bay. Hedman, with the help of Nikita Kucherov, almost single-handedly dragged Tampa into the playoffs, only to fall a little short.

Honorable Mentions: Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens, Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues, Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

The Winner: Although he slowed down at the end of the year, I predict the winner will be Brent Burns, as he still had a tremendous season, helping the San Jose Sharks to 99 points and a second straight post-season berth.

Vezina

The nominees: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets, Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals, Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild

Sergei Bobrovsky led all goalies with over 40 games played in save percentage, with 93.1, goals against average, with 2.06, and was third in wins with 41. He was 0.5 percentage points ahead of Craig Anderson, who was second in save percentage among goalies with at least 40 games played with 92.6, and if you bump that number up to 41 games played, Bobrovsky was 0.6 percentage points above the second place Holtby. Bobrovsky helped turn around the Blue Jackets this year, going from 76 points last year to 108 points this year, as well as a playoff berth, their second in 4 years. Bobrovsky was far above Carey Price’s Hart and Ted Lindsay winning season, when Price’s 93.3 save percentage was only 0.4 percentage points above second place Devan Dubnyk. He had a GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) of 32.17, which means he saved just over 32 more goals than what was expected given the shots he faced. To sum it all up, Bobrovsky was far and away the best goalie this season.

Braden Holtby was tied for first among all goalies this season with 42, and was second in save percentage among goalies with at least 41 games played, with 92.5. He helped the Washington Capitals to their second President’s Trophy in as many years, as well as lead all goalies with 9 shutouts. His goals against average was also second among goalies who played at least 41 games, with 2.07, and allowed the same amount of goals as Bobrovsky, albeit on fewer shots. He had a GSAA of 26.54, while not as great as Bobrovsky’s 32.17, is still quite impressive. While Braden Holtby may not have had as extraordinary of a season as Bobrovsky, it was still excellent in it’s own right.

For the first 5 months of the season, Devan Dubnyk was almost unbeatable. He lead all goalies who had played at least 20 games with a 93.1 save percentage from the start of the season to the end of February, but March was not a kind month to Dubnyk. In 14 games, Dubnyk had a 88.9% save percentage, and although he showed signs of turning it around in April, with a 91.6% save percentage in 3 games, it wasn’t enough as Dubnyk finished the season with a 92.3 save percentage, tied for 4th among goalies who played at least 41 games, and a goals against average of 2.25, 7th among goalies who played at least 41 games. His GSAA was only 0.21 by the end of the year, so although his numbers dipped, he still had a good season, as he finished the year with 40 wins.

Honorable Mentions: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins, Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers

The Winner: I predict the winner will be Sergei Bobrovsky, as he was far and away the best goalie in the league this year, and pulled the Blue Jackets from near the bottom of the league to a playoff spot.

Calder

The nominees: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets, Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

Auston Matthews scored 40 goals as a rookie, the first rookie to do so since Alex Ovechkin. Not only did he lead all rookies in goals and points, but he was tied for second in goals league wide. He was a positive possession player, having a 5v5 CF% of 51.43 and a 5v5 xGF% of 52.84. Despite going on lengthy goal and point droughts, including a 13 game goal drought, Matthews managed to score 40 goals, a rarity in this league, as a 19 year old. He was also the only player in the league this year to have a shot on goal in every single game. Although he didn’t finish with the highest points per game among rookies, 0.84 to Patrik Laine’s 0.88, leading rookies in goals and points in a rookie class like this year is quite impressive.

Patrik Laine finished second among rookies in goals and points, with 36 and 64 respectively, and lead all rookies in points per game with 0.88. Despite not having the best possession metrics, a 5v5 CF% of 47.53 and a 5v5 xGF% 47.86, the fact is that Laine’s 0.88 points per game is the highest since Bobby Ryan’s 0.89 points per game in 2008/2009, when he had 57 points in 64 games, if you discount last year’s Calder winner Artemi Panarin, who had 77 points in 80 games for 0.96 points per game, and Connor McDavid, who had 48 points in 45 games played for 1.07 points per game. Before Bobby Ryan’s 0.89 point per game season, you had Patrick Kane as a rookie scoring 72 points in 82 games played for 0.88 points per game in 2007/2008. So the list of rookies with at least 0.88 points per game in the last nine years is Patrik Laine, Artemi Panarin, Connor McDavid, Bobby Ryan, and Patrick Kane. Despite Bobby Ryan slowing down recently, that’s some pretty good company.

Zach Werenski lead all rookie defensemen in scoring this year with 11 goals and 47 points. His 47 points also put him 13th league wide in points among defensemen, rookies and veterans. Since the 2005/2006 season, only 2 other rookie defensemen have had more than Werenski’s 47 points: Dion Phaneuf, with 49 points, and Tyler Myers, with 48 points. Of those 2, only Tyler Myers won, but in Phaneuf’s case, he lost to Alex Ovechkin, who had 52 goals and 106 points that year. Only 2 defensemen have won the Calder Trophy since the lockout, Tyler Myers, as previously mentioned, and Aaron Ekblad, who had 39 points. If you sort by points per game, because Werenski only played 78 games, he matches Phaneuf’s pace of 0.60 points per game, and passes Myers’ 0.59 pace. On top of all that, Werenski was tasked with playing 20:54 minutes a night, and had a 5v5 CF% of 53.40, and a 5v5 GF% of 57.89, while playing the hardest skater position on the ice, all while being 19 years old. Suffice to say, Werenski was one of the top rookies of this year.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins, Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs, William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs, Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

The Winner: The winner will be Auston Matthews, because just scoring 40 goals is impressive, much less as a rookie. However, the argument could be made for any number of rookies, say, if Laine had played a full season, or the award could go to Werenski. Matt Murray also had a great season after winning the Cup last spring, and was one of the top goalies league-wide in save percentage. There were a ton of good rookies this year and although the award will likely go to Matthews, in any other year there would be a lot more consideration for Marner or Nylander, or even Aho and Tkachuk.

Jack Adams

The nominees: Mike Babcock, Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tortorella, Columbus Blue Jackets, Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators

Mike Babcock, took the worst team in the league last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished with 69 points, and turned them in to a 95 point playoff team. Taking the worst team in the league to the playoffs the very next year is no small feat, and the fact that Babcock accomplished that is tremendous. This year the Leafs have the 13th ranked 5v5 CF%, at 50.40, and the 10th ranked 5v5 xGF%, at 51.34. The Leafs are out-shooting their opponents, they’re out-chancing their opponents, and they made it in to the playoffs. Mike Babcock is the best coach in the league, and this may finally be the year he wins his first Jack Adams Award.

Similar to Mike Babcock, the John Tortorella coached Columbus Blue Jackets made a quick turnaround, going from the 4th worst team in the league last year with 76 points, to the 4th best this year with 108 points, including a record-matching 16 game win streak. While their underlying numbers aren’t as great as the Leafs, a 14th ranked 5v5 CF%, at 50.31, and a 14th ranked xGF%, at 50.13, a 32 point improvement is nothing to scoff at. Because the Jack Adams usually goes to the coach that gets lucky one year and severely outperforms expectations, whether it be to extremely good goaltending (see Bobrovsky’s 93.1 save percentage) or inflated shooting percentages, Tortorella is a great candidate. Given that the out of the last six Jack Adams winners only 1 of them remains with the team they won it with, Barry Trotz, who won it just last year, it seems very likely that Tortorella could win. If Tortorella goes on to win the Jack Adams this year, it will be the second win of his career, tying him with Jacques Lemaire, Scotty Bowman, and Pat Quinn for the most all time. That’s some pretty elite company.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Ottawa Senators fired their coach and hired Guy Boucher. Boucher turned the Senators around, as they went from 12th worst in the league last season, with 85 points, to 98 points this season, or the 12th best. Like Columbus, they could be riding the hot play of a goaltender (Craig Anderson had a 92.6 save percentage in 40 games this season), or it could be the elite play of their elite player, Erik Karlsson. (It could be said that Erik Karlsson dragged the team to a playoff spot). Regardless, something went right for the Ottawa Senators this year, and despite a lackluster roster, they have home ice advantage going in to the playoffs this year. Despite underwhelming possession stats, as Ottawa ranks 22nd in 5v5 CF% with 48.55, and 20th in xGF% with 49.13, the Senators are in a playoff spot, which means that Boucher will likely get some acknowledgement for the Jack Adams.

Honorable Mentions: Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota Wild, Todd McLellan, Edmonton Oilers

The Winner: I predict the winner will be Mike Babcock, because the Jack Adams goes to the team that over-performs or exceeds expectations. Due to the fact that Toronto went from the worst team in the league to the 14th best, Babcock seems like a lock to win. That being said, Columbus’ 32 point turnaround is nothing to ignore, so I could see Tortorella winning it as well.

So there you have it, 5 of the major NHL awards. Who do you think will win them? Who do you think should win them? Let me know in the comments down below, and thanks for reading.

All stats courtesy of NHL.com and Corsica.Hockey
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