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NHL Awards: My 2019 ballot

Crosby and Letang on the outside but still make the list

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekend. In a bit, the SBN blogs will be converging for everyone to vote on the NHL Awards. In this spirit of transparency and for useful weekend banter, here’s my ballot for your eyes and mocking.

Hart Trophy

Awarded annually to the “player judged most valuable to his team” in the National Hockey League

  1. Nikita Kucherov (TB)
  2. Sidney Crosby (PIT)
  3. Nathan MacKinnon (COL)
  4. Patrick Kane (CHI)
  5. Connor McDavid (EDM)

I don’t spend a lot of wasted moments on complicating “valuable to his team”. Does that mean the team has to make the playoffs? No. Does it mean a great player on a great team inherently can’t have that much value? Not necessarily.

It’s meant to be for the best player in the league, that’s what provides the most value. Shouldn’t be a tough one in a year like this, Kucherov scored 41 goals, adding an incredible 87 assists for a 128 point season that’s been the best individual performance in years. He’s the easy pick for MVP.

Crosby recorded a 100 point season and more impressive still was the manner in which it was done. Sid scored 2.92 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 play, the second best mark in the league behind Kucherov (3.37).

Third place I gave to MacKinnon, who played 22 minutes a night as a forward, scored 99 points and helped boost his team into the playoffs. To me, his performance night in and night out is among the most explosive and dominant in the league.

Kane finished third in the league with 110 points, and notched 44 goals. Kane finished 29 points ahead of his nearest teammate in scoring, which to me added to his value to be the main offensive option for his team.

McDavid completed a 116 point season, but didn’t score the most goals on his team and had a teammate finish 11 points behind him. I could probably hear that I should have ranked him a bit higher, but this isn’t really the end of the world to debate a 3rd/4th/5th place award.

Norris Trophy

Awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”

  1. Mark Giordano (CGY)
  2. Roman Josi (NSH)
  3. Kris Letang (PIT)
  4. Brent Burns (SJ)
  5. Victor Hedman (TB)

Giordano had a sensational season recording 17 goals and 74 points, ranking third and second highest respectively in the league among defensemen. He drove possession with an eye-popping 57.3% Corsi For % and was on ice 5v5 for 79 Goals For to just 51 Goals Against (for a 60.7% GF% that was 5th best). In all, Calgary’s number one defenseman was the league’s best.

Josi is often overlooked, but a sensational defenseman who played almost 26 minutes per game, recorded 56 points (14g+44a) and was a driving factor for shots and goals while out there.

Letang gets a third place nod, due to injury that limited him to 65 games. Still, he belongs with the top achievers, as he finished respectably high with 56 points (16g+40a) and a better Goals For% than Giordano with 61.2%. The Pens scored 71 5v5 goals with Letang out to only 47 against while playing 26 minutes per game. Had Letang played more games, he probably is first place.

With 83 points, Burns gets a fourth place vote for a terrific offensive season. Hedman, last year’s winner, also missed some time with injury and didn’t quite perform as well as the other elite defensemen this season (54 points, only 22 minutes per game which is low compared to everyone else’s 24-26+ minutes).

Calder Trophy

Annual award given “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League”

  1. Elias Pettersson (VAN)
  2. Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)
  3. Miro Heiskanen (DAL)
  4. Jesper Kotkaniemi (MTL)
  5. Jordan Binnington (STL)

Pettersson was the best rookie, despite playing 71 games he led all rooks in goals, assists and points to make this an easy decision. Dahlin accomplished an impressive amount at a very young age, racking up 35 assists as an 18-year old. Heiskanen quietly developed into a defensive force, playing 23 minutes a game and scoring 12 goals from the blue line. Binnington played very well, but only for 30 starts (remember, awards only consider body of work for the regular season, all playoff performances don’t help or hurt at all) so only being a call-up from the minors in January hurt him here.

Selke Trophy

Awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.

  1. Ryan O’Reilly (STL)
  2. Sidney Crosby (PIT)
  3. Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
  4. Ryan Stone (VGK)
  5. Brad Marchand (BOS)

I wrote back in April why the pertinent stats and metrics show that O’Reilly had the best season as a defensive forward. It also explains why Crosby is number two, and due to an admitted center/wing bias why I place an excellent two-way player in Stone as fourth. Barkov is ahead of him for being a center. I also give a nod to Marchand where his teammate Patrice Bergeron gets more press because Marchand played 14 more games this year than Bergeron and did a bit more work and lifting.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Presented each year to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”

  1. Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
  2. Samuel Girard (COL)
  3. Dominik Kahun (CHI)
  4. Ryan O’Reilly (STL)
  5. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (VGK)

Typically not an award players like to win, so here goes. Barkov played 82 games, in tough competition and only took 4 minor penalties all season while still scoring 96 points of his own. Impressive.

Defensemen never seem to win this award, which is a shame since typically no one plays angrier or takes more penalties than defensemen. So if one can do a good job without being all aggro, they deserve love! And love I give in the form of a second place vote for a defenseman in Girard who played all 82 games and almost 20 minutes a night and only took 3 minor penalties all season.

Kahun gets third for 6 total PIMs in 82 games as well.

O’Reilly took six minors for 12 PIMs but given how hard he plays and the offensive and defensive results he gets, that impressed me for a fourth place vote. Similarly, I thought of Bellemare as a rugged fourth liner/PKer, he only took three penalties all season in 82 games, so he gets tossed a fifth place vote and now we can all mercifully move on.

Masterton Trophy

Awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.

  1. Joe Thornton (SJ)
  2. Jay Bouwmeester (STL)
  3. Curtis McElhinney (CAR)
  4. Corey Crawford (CHI)
  5. Taylor Fedun (DAL)

Didn’t really put a lot of thought in this, just went down the list of each team’s nominee and chose a few who stood out. Thornton has tons of money and respect but keeps going to try and win that elusive Stanley Cup. Likewise, Bouwmeester has been around for a while and keeps on tickin’. You never hear a cross word about those veterans and their teammates genuinely seem to revere them, so I gave high votes.

McElhinney has been a journeyman and often on waivers (where Carolina got him) and spent a full season in the NHL. It’s an impressive story to bounce between AHL and NHL and team to team and city to city for as long as he has. Crawford battled through his neck/veritgo/whatever issues of unknown duration, and that had to be tough to not know how or when to feel better.

Fedun had a really nasty injury breaking a femur that almost made me sick watching and somehow rehabbed back into NHL form so that’s good enough to make my list.

What’s your take? Any too high, too low? Feel free to chop it up and make your picks for awards known.