Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Handing out the NHL awards (to this point)

The end of the season is rapidly approaching and it is time to sit down and figure out, who really has made a difference for his team this season and is deserving of recognition. Each of the people on this list have provided the kind of performances that teams need to be successful. Sorry for not posting for a while, this one took quite some time to write up.

Vezina: Let's open it up plain and simply, Tim Thomas will win the Vezina. This point is not even up for discussion, who else would you give it to? Ondrej Pavelec came roaring back from a fainting spell, to put on maybe the most impressive thirty game spree, but has since been one of the worst five goalies in the NHL. In his last 17 NHL games he has gone 3-10-4, while giving up at least 4 goals in 9 of those games (nobody actually thought Atlanta could have a good goalie right?). Carey Price, Pekka Rinne and Henrik Lundqvist have had extremely successful years, and in a standard year, would all be legitimate candidates. However, Thomas simply takes the cake. He is number one in SV%, GAA and Win% amongst all goalies that have played 45 games. He is winning the goalie version of the Triple Crown and barring a Pavelecesque collapse (seriously, no pun intended), the trophy is his to lose.

Vezina Runner-Ups
1: Carey Price- You think he has made people forget about Halak?
 2: Henrik Lundqvist:- How does he continue to do this year in and year out? Already nine shutouts.
  3: Pekka Rinne -Plays in front of the most underrated defence in the NHL, otherwise he is second on this list.
 4: Jonathon Quick -Why does he always get rocked in the media for being a stopgap for Bernier, he is amazing, and it seems he will continue to be a top NHL goaltender for many seasons to come.

Selke Trophy: I think it is time this trophy was renamed the, "good offensive player that has a defensive conscience trophy". I am not sure what has caused the prompt change, but the four winners before the lockout were Madden, Peca, Lehtinen and Draper. These four players were all defined by their defensive prowess. How many players nowadays, do people say wow, he is a stud shutdown forward? The market for the Shayne Corsons of the world seems to have dried up. Since the lockout, two players have received the trophy: Brind Amour and Datsyuk. Not to take anything away from these players, but one must think that other players defensive prowess has somewhat been ignored.

This year Datsyuk has been injured, and his +/- is a little bit underwhelming (+11, on the third best team in the NHL), and the most subjective trophy is ripe for the taking. The general consensus that the most important statistics for the Selke, are takeaways, Faceoff % and +/-. By analyzing these stats, we conclude with a clear winner: Jonathon Toews. He is second in the NHL in takeaways, (surprisingly behind Jumbo Joe, who deserves zero recognition as he is a -7 on one of the best teams in the NHL) top ten in the NHL in faceoff %, amongst players that have taken at least 500 on the season, and 5th amongst forwards (first not including players from Boston and Vancouver) in +/-. What is most important about Toews faceoff percentage is that he is also in the top five on percentage of team faceoffs taken, which means that not only is he good at taking them, but he is winning important ones too. Maybe we are actually seeing a new wave of players in the NHL, that are the most offensively gifted and possess the best defensive conscience.

.Selke Runner-Ups
1: Ryan Kesler- This guy consistently plays heavy minutes on the penalty kill.
 2: Pavel Datsyuk- Remember the award is mainly subjective.
 3: Matt Cooke:- He does have the most SH points, and he is consistently defending his personality.
746: Tyler Bozak- This guy has no defensive orientation, worst +/- amongst forwards in the NHL.

Dirtiest Player: This should be called the Matt Cooke award, because he probably deserves it every single year. It is called by many to be the year of the headshots, and I figured maybe an award should be instituted in its honor.

The clear cut winner of this award is Trevor Gillies. He simply doesn't seem to get it. After getting suspended for nine games for a brutal attack on Eric Tangradi, he goes and attacks Cal Clutterbuck (a really solid young power forward), and knocks him out with a concsusion as well. If this doesn't deserve to give him the award, maybe his dirty mustache puts him over the top.
Dirty Player Runner-Ups
1:  Matt Cooke- He is just probably surprised that he is not first.
2: Sean Avery- Actions combined with verbal abuse puts him in the top five.
 3: Brent Johnson- That was one dirty knockout, ask Dipietro.
 4: Colin Campbell- Intentionally gives lenient punishments in order to keep his job.

Jack Adams: This award goes to the best coach in the NHL, and along with the Vezina may be the most obvious of all the trophies. Jacques Lemaire signed on to coach the NHL worst Devils, and since he joined the team, they have been the best in the NHL. While not all of their success can be attributed to his coaching, (Kovalchuk finally remembered how to score) this sort of turnaround cannot be ignored.

Jack Adams Runner-Ups
1: Dan Bylsma- He has Crosby and Malkin injured 30 games each, and still challenging for the Conference title, that is simply amazing.
 2: Barry Trotz- How does he do it every single season? The Predators may have the most anemic offence of all time, and they are still only one point out of a playoff spot. (Great trivia question- who is the only Predator to ever score more than 75 points?)
 3: Brent Sutter- Realizing that his brother Darryl Sutter was the problem with the Flames, and getting him to finally resign.
 4: Ron Wilson- For putting up with the Toronto media every single day.

Norris Trophy: This is an extremely competitive field this year with the emergence of a lot of new top tier defenceman. The popular pick is the ageless Nicklas Lidstrom, with his remarkable comeback season. However, I have a very difficult time giving the best defensman trophy to a player that has a minus rating. While I am not advocating that a player like Andrej Meszaros or Adam McQuaid (who???) to receive it, the winner should at least have a token positive rating.Which leads me to Kieth Yandle (a +1!). He is tied for first amongst defenceman in points with 54, which is also tops on his team. Yandle is a strong offensive defenceman, that plays a ton of minutes and provides that necessary offensive punch to a Coyotes team that has an extremely mediocre group of forwards.

Norris Runner-Ups
 1: Nicklas Lidstrom- Always playing against the opposing teams top line. Has been a sparkplug on the power play this season.
2: Kris Letang- The favorite earlier in the season, has slowed lately, look for him to be a contender for this award for years to come.
 3: Tobias Enstrom- The engine that makes the Byfgulien train work.
4: Christian Ehrhoff- For not getting injured!

Calder Trophy- If someone predictedeven three out of the nominees on this list, can they please contact the scouting department for the Toronto Maple Leafs and offer them their services!! All the favorites of the rookies on this list have come from absolutely nowhere. While the Taylor/Tyler debate may have ended with the Oilers making the right decision, neither of them will win this award. If I would be running the show, I would give the trophy to all three men at the top of this list. However, for the sake of this article every category does need a winner and Corey Crawford has separated himself from the rest. He has been a rock all season in goal for the Hawks this season and after the Turco experiment worked out horribly, they have a lot to be thankful for.

Calder Runner-Ups
1: Logan Couture- He came up huge early in the season when all of the big guns were faltering. With 25 goals and a +17 rating, he has been a real find for the Sharks.
2: Jeff Skinner- He is born in 1992, and was an All-Star! He has been having a fantastic season leading all rookies in scoring.
3: Sergei Bobrovsky- Great season, slowing down lately, would be higher if Boucher did not have comparable numbers.
 4: Taylor Hall- Might be the only player in history to get a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, and injure himself for the season in the process, well done!

Hart Trophy- The one that I am sure you have all been waiting for. It is difficult to decide who deserves this trophy for a number of reasons. 1) Steckel knocked out Crosby. I do not think that if he was healthy all season, we would be debating who deserves to win this. He was having an unbelievable season and if returned today, would still be my favorite for winning the Art Ross Trophy. 2) All good players have remarkable teammates. Stamkos has St. Louis, the Sedins have each other and Kesler, so how can you actually decide who to give it to. 3) Goalies have their own award, so we try not to give them this one. 4) Nobody from the Washington Capitals wants to play any offence this season. With all of these in mind, I think that the winner of this trophy should be  Jarome Iginla. His linemates are made up of has beens (Tanguay and Brendan Morrison) and overrated players (that is what happens when you trade for the entire Leafs team) and he still has them in the Playoffs in the ultra competitive Western Conference. He is ninth in the NHL in points and seventh in goals, after overcoming so much adversity. The first two months of the season, he was subject to constant rumors. After that, his team had porous play and the general manager resigned. Throughout all of this Iggy has been as firm as a rock and should win his second Hart Trophy.

Hart Ranking Runner-Ups
1: Daniel Sedin- The best player on the top team in the NHL does deserve some sort of recognition even if he plays with superstar
2: Tim Thomas- He has probably been the most dominant goaltender the NHL has seen since Dominik Hasek in the late nineties. If Theodore was able to win the Hart with the numbers he posted, no reason to believe Thomas is not in the running.
3: Steven Stamkos- I know I know, St Louis is a very good player, but Stamkos is still the only player in the NHL that has a chance at breaking fifty goals this season, and that in itself is an impressive statistic.
4: Sidney Crosby- Even if he has missed so many games, he still deserves to be on this list for everything he accomplished until the Winter Classic.

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  1. How is michael grabner not even mentioned when it comes to the calder debate? if your going to say that logan couture is the #1 runner up, why dont we compare the numbers. like you mentioned, couture has 25 goals and 19 assists for a total of 44 points, while playing roughly 18 min per game with linemates that have included danny heatley and ryan clowe (according to leftwinglock). on the other hand, Grabner leads all rookies with 27 goals and is 4th in rookie scoring with 41 points (only 3 behind couture!) and has done so while playing with superstars such as frans nielsen (who does have some great dangles) and kyle okposo (who is a solid player, but in no way compares to heatley). On top of that, Grabner is a +13 on the ISLANDERS!!!! Im nt saying that grabner deserves the calder, cause crawford (granted he is 26) has been playing very well. All i am saying is that he definitely deserves to be at least mentioned in the conversation.

  2. @Noam. Who do you put him ahead of? Couture has more points, (while still potting 25 goals) +17, and perhaps most importantly has 8 game winners, which puts him third in the NHL in that category. Bobrovsky has stellar numbers as well, do you not think that he has been more important to his team than an unbelievable second half of Grabner? Let's remember that Grabner had one remarkable month,he has not produced consistently all year. Skinner is the leading point getter amongst all rookies and has been the second most important forward on a playoff team. Finally, in comparison to Taylor Hall, you may have a case, but I kinda wanted to make fun of Hall for knocking himself out for the season. Would love to hear what you think.

  3. AJ, I am not saying that Grabner is necessarily ahead of anyone you have put on your list. I agree the Couture, Bob, Skinner, and Hall have all had great seasons thus far. What I am saying is that you cannot just leave a guy like Michael Grabner out of the discussion. His stats are comparable enough to Couture’s (he even has more goals) even though Couture plays on a MUCH better team and on a line with the likes of Danny Heatley. The Islanders are the 3rd best team in the eastern conference since the middle of December, and Michael Grabner has been a big part of that. Regardless of when his production has come, the point is he has produced and DESERVES to at least be included in the calder discussion.

  4. I don't grasp how you can call the Dirtiest Player award the "Matt Cooke" award because he deserves it every single year, and then deem Trevor Gillies the winner, leaving Cookey as a runner-up. I simply don't understand how that works.

  5. His status quo play would get it for him every single season, unless someone like Trevor Gillies does something so remarkably stupid, that you must give it to him. However, you are right it does seem a little contradictory and I appreciate the Feedback.

  6. @Noam, we only discuss the top five candidates in all sections of the article, if he is not better than any of those five, I am not sure why you think he should be mentioned.

  7. AJ, that is where you are mistaken. He is definitely ahead of Hall, and I would say that he is just as good as Couture, who is your number 1 runner up. As for Jeff Skinner, granted he is a king for being in the all-star game at the age of 18, but that was only because he was a late addition and the game was in carolina (i guess that was the only way to get people to buy tickets there). On top of that, Skinner plays with an all-star in Eric Staal and even still he isn't that much ahead of Grabner.
    Tell me, if you put skinner, hall, or couture on a line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, you think those players would have as good numbers as Grabner does??
    With regards to Bob, you have to give a rookie goalie with his numbers consideration, but would anyone disagree with me that his numbers are mainly a product of the team he plays for???
    if you add all this together, I think it is evident that Grabner deserves at least SOME recognition in the calder discussion.