The Penguins have been one of the better teams in the NHL this season and have several great stories going for them in the 2022-23 season. But for as marquee of a team as Pittsburgh has been in the salary cap era, they haven’t won a major league award since Sidney Crosby earned the Maurice Richard trophy for most goals and Conn Smythe for playoff MVP in 2017. (Crosby also hoisted another certain trophy that year too).
Could 2022-23 be any different for Pittsburgh people getting in on league recognition? Let’s give it a go.
The Richard and Art Ross (scoring title) is nearly out of reach already — Crosby is having a tremendous year but already finds himself an incredible 11 goals and 23 points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in both categories for points and goals. At times it looks like McDavid is playing a different game than anyone else — Edmonton teammate Leon Draisaitl is the only player in the league within 16 points of McDavid as of now.
The Norris (defenseman of the year) typically goes hand in hand with the defender who records if not the most points then close to it, and that ship has sailed for Kris Letang at this point of his career. While Letang was a top 5-10ish defender for much of his career, now at age-35 he is pushing past his peak.
However, Letang might represent Pittsburgh’s best chance at an award with the Masterton trophy for dedication and perseverance to hockey after returning to play at a high level in just a few days after suffering a stoke. Then again, Letang didn’t win the Masterton the last time he had a stroke, so who knows about that award might end up with the whims of the voters.
Mike Sullivan probably should have a Jack Adams award for coach of the year by now after so many years of excellent work. But he’s easy for the broadcasters to overlook, and given how things have gone in Boston, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Dallas so far, Sullivan may well end up being overlooked again with so many other good teams and surprising performances that tend to catch the eyes of voters more often.
One underdog with an actual upside for a league award right now could be Tristan Jarry for the Vezina. He’s among the league leaders in wins (15, tied-5th) and save percentage (.920%, 8th). Those numbers will not make Jarry a front-runner by any means, but are good enough to put him in the conversation with a strong second half of the season could put him in the mix. It would be helpful if some others would fall off (Boston’s Linus Ullmark is running away with it right now), but just for Penguin players in a realistic enough position right now to compete for a trophy, Jarry is in as good of a position as anyone else right now.
The Hart Trophy for MVP is one that Crosby could get in contention with, the pure meaning of “value” tends to differ between each voter but no one has meant more than Crosby. Still, it’s about impossible to win the Hart when you’re sitting outside of the top-5 in scoring, as Sid is currently. Things could always change, but at this point Crosby looks just good to be somewhat in the conversation than being a McDavid, Tage Thompson or Nikita Kucherov-type that is higher in the scoring ranks.
The season is not even half done, so much can change and fortunes can rise and fall but even this early on, a lot is coming into focus as far as the top performances in the league. Who do you think is the best bet from the Penguins to win an award this season? (Independent of hopefully one of them winning the Conn Smythe..)
Which Penguin is most likely to win an award at the end of the season?
This poll is closed
Sidney Crosby for at least one of Hart, Richard, Art Ross
Mike Sullivan for Jack Adams
Kris Letang for Masterton
Tristan Jarry for Vezina