Friday, 14 June 2013

Some Deserving Award-Winners

There are always a few eyebrows-raising choices made when the NHL Award winners are announced, but I'm pretty sure that the writers who had access to the ballots this year lost their minds at some point. As news filtered out from the NHL and various media outlets that the award-winners had already been selected and would be announced, there were almost immediate leaks about who won which award. Some are deserving and I accept that, but others are completely baffling as to how the writers determined that those players should win.


CALDER TROPHY - JONATHAN HUBERDEAU: I don't have a problem with Huberdeau winning the Calder. Having seen him destroy the Jets on various occasions over the season, he always played at a consistently high level, and was near the top or leading most rookie categories. While Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Saad had exceptional seasons as well, the fact that Huberdeau played on a horrific Panthers team at a high level pushes him to the top for me.

VEZINA TROPHY - SERGEI BOBROVSKY: Undoubtedly, this award was won by Bobrovsky. For the second half of the season when it appeared the Columbus Blue Jackets might be dead-man walking again, Bobrovsky put his team on his back and almost single-handedly willed them into the playoffs. He was 21-11-6, had a 2.00 GAA, and a .932 save percentage on a team that missed the playoffs. He appeared in every game during the Jackets' franchise best 12-game point streak (8-0-4). Compared to Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi, Bobrovsky just did more with less in putting up those numbers.

SELKE TROPHY - JONATHAN TOEWS: I originally had this award below, but I came to realize that I splitting hairs. Toews does yeoman's work in playing against the opposition's top line and still is near the top of Blackhawks' scoring. He's their leader and captain, and certainly has sacrificed his own personal stats for the betterment of the team. His +28 plus/minus shows that goals are being scored for the Blackhawks and not against the Blackhawks when he's on the ice. While I could have made a case for Boston's Patrice Bergeron (and almost did), Toews was second-best at winning face-offs behind Bergeron. Had Bergeron not missed time with a concussion, this award may be his.

JACK ADAMS TROPHY - PAUL MACLEAN: Roster decimated by injuries to his top players? Check. Consistently high level of play despite the injuries? Check. Look, let's cut to the chase here: if you lost Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza early in the season, you might be forgiven if you wrote the season off as coach. If that wasn't enough, losing your bonafide starting goalie should put you in panic mode. But not Senators coach Paul MacLean. Ottawa finished just seven points behind division-winner Montreal. He got more out of Kyle Turris than any coach before him as Turris led the Senators in scoring. He found rookies willing to do anything to win. He got double-digit point totals out of Chris Phillips, Marc Methot, and Andre Benoit. And all of it was done in front of two rookie goalies who played in half the games. Paul MacLean absolutely deserved this award over Joel Quenneville and Bruce Boudreau by keeping Ottawa as a playoff-bound team.

BILL MASTERTON TROPHY - JOSH HARDING: It hard not to feel good about Josh Harding's continuing battle against multiple sclerosis. Sure, he only played five games because of treatments necessary for the disease, but Harding's refusal to use it as a crutch is more impressive than anything else. He was determined to return to the ice and did, but his work in the playoff showed that not only was he determined to return at a high level, but he stepped into the most intense battle the Wild faced this season and stared down the Blackhawks. His stats - 2.94 GAA and .911 - are pretty darn good for a guy who played only five games this season. While the playoffs aren't recognized as part of the awards-voting process, you had to know that Harding's return alone was more deserving of this award after staring down his most personal battle.

LADY BYNG TROPHY - MARTIN ST. LOUIS: St. Louis led the league in scoring and only made seven trips to the penalty box through 48 games. It's his third Lady Byng Award, but the first time he has won it and the Art Ross in the same year. Being that he led the league in scoring also means he was on the ice a lot, there's also a great chance at him taking a penalty if he's skating more often. This one, based on those truths alone, would make St. Louis a logical winner.


NORRIS TROPHY - PK SUBBAN: I get that PK Subban had a big year, but giving him this award is a farce. PK Subban and Kris Letang tied in points, but Subban played seven more games. So it wasn't even like he was the best offensive defenceman in the league. Letang ha a better plus/minus, showing he's better in five-on-five situations. Letang took less penalties - 49 minutes less - than Subban. Letnag played more minutes per game than Subban. So why am I picking Ryan Suter? He is the best defenceman this season both offensively and defensively. Third in points by a defenceman. Most ice-time. Most shifts. More powerplay goals than Letang. Played in system that has heavy emphasis on defence while still finishing third among defenceman scoring. I would have had Ryan Suter as my pick, followed by Letang and then Subban. Had Subban's teammate Andrei Markov not been a -9 this season, he'd have been picked above Subban too.

HART TROPHY - ALEXANDER OVECHKIN: Let's stop giving this award to Ovechkin until he does something significant, shall we? His team plays in the most inferior division since the original expansion years. He gets the benefit of hammering four of the worst teams in the NHL regularly. And we want to crown him the best at what he does? Please make it stop. I won't lie when I say Ovechkin had a good season. He certainly did. But it really was more a good last half of the season. What happened to the first half? Did we all forget about this? Are we really that naive to think that just because the Capitals won the abomination known as the Southeast Division that he willed them into the playoffs? It took Ovechkin twelve additional games to tie Crosby in points, and all Crosby did before his broken jaw was lead the league in scoring. He helped catapult the Penguins to first-place in the Eastern Conference on a fifteen-game points streak his season. He was playing exceptional two-way hockey at a high level, and Ovechkin was nowhere to be found. So how did Ovechkin win this award again? Look, credit is due for how he finished the year, but here's a compelling statistic against Ovechkin from Daniel Wagner of
Ovechkin is one of the players who has performed significantly better against non-playoff teams, scoring 1.35 points-per-game against them and just 0.69 points-per-game against playoff teams. Ovechkin has scored a whopping 22 goals in 26 games against non-playoff opponents, which is staggering. He’s scored at least 3 goals against every non-playoff team this season except for the Philadelphia Flyers. The playoff team he’s performed the best against? The Pittsburgh Penguins, with 4 points in 3 games.
Are we done with giving this award to a guy who honestly did nothing to earn it? Oh, and if you were wondering, Wagner also pulled this gem out to validate my pick for the Hart Trophy:
I’ve heard all three of Ovechkin, Kane, and Tavares mentioned in the Hart conversation. The fact that the bulk of their points have come against non-playoff teams might call into question their candidacy, particularly compared to someone like Crosby, who has performed consistently against all competition this season, even scoring slightly more against playoff teams.
I will say this, though: congratulations to all the NHL Award winners. You had to have played at a high level this season in order to sway the voting masses to pick you as their winners.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


mtjaws said...

As a Panther fan, I am thrilled that Huberdeau won the Calder. He was the biggest bright spot in a long losing season, and I enjoyed his offense on a team that always needs goals. In the final game, he notched 3 assists to take the rookie scoring lead for a moment.

But then later on that night, Edmonton's Nail Yakupov scored a hat trick to take the goal lead and tie Huby for the points lead. My question is why wasn't Nail nominated for the Calder? I thought for sure he would win it, so I was shocked to see he wasn't in the final 3. Did the writers miss this one, or was there some technicality that kept him from winning it? I'm not complaining, but really am curious about it.

Teebz said...

The finalists are normally announced long before the end of the season. Nail was near the top, but Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Saad were ahead of him when the ballots for nominees came out. My guess is that Nail missed out simply due to timing.