NHL Mid-Season Award Predictions
The NHL All-Star break is almost upon us and we’re gearing up for the back half of the season. We’re technically just past the halfway point of the 2016–17 schedule but the All-Star game acts as the midway point on the season.
Here are my picks for the NHL awards winners based on the first half of the season:
Rocket Richard Trophy (Most Goals): Sidney Crosby- Pittsburgh Penguins
(Preseason pick: Alexander Ovechkin — Washington Capitals)
Crosby missed the first week of the season with a concussion and then burst onto the scene lighting the lamp at will. He currently leads the league with 28 goals, four clear of Cam Atkinson and Jeff Carter. When Sid is on top of his game, he’s almost unstoppable and right now he’s on top of his game. Don’t plan on Crosby slowing down anytime soon. He’ll capture his second Rocket Richard trophy at seasons end with 52 goals.
Jack Adams Trophy (Best Coach): John Tortorella — Columbus Blue Jackets
(Preseason pick: Peter Laviolette — Nashville Predators)
There’s no denying that the Blue Jackets have been the surprise of the season. They have struggled a little bit since their 16-game winning streak was snapped earlier this month but make no mistake, they’ve been playing out of their minds. There weren’t high expectations surrounding the team entering the season but now they are on what seems like a clear path to the playoffs. Torts has done a good job with this bunch and should get the Adams because of it.
James Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Brent Burns — San Jose Sharks
(Preseason pick: Brent Burns — San Jose Sharks)
There’s not too much to say here. Burns has been unreal this season for the Sharks. 21 goals and 30 assists in 49 games. He’s also been tremendous in the defensive zone, which is important for a trophy being given to a defenseman. Unless he gets injured and misses significant time there’s no way he loses this award.
Frank Selke Award (Best Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins
(Preseason Pick: Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins)
Maybe my Boston bias is kicking in here, but Bergeron deserves it. He shuts down opposing team’s offensive weapons every night. His corsi numbers are excellent, as always, and he is a stud in the faceoff dot. Offensively he has struggled, but this is a defensive award so that shouldn’t matter. He should be well on his way to his fourth Selke in six seasons.
Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Devan Dubnyk — Minnesota Wild
(Preseason Pick: Carey Price — Montreal Canadiens)
Dubnyk has been rock solid for the Wild all season long. He currently leads the league in GAA and save % and is second in shutouts and wins. Nobody has been consistently better than Dubnyk all year. He deserves it more than anybody out there. No disrespect to former winners Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby, who have also been studs this season.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie): Auston Matthews — Toronto Maple Leafs
(Preseason Pick: Auston Matthews — Toronto Maple Leafs)
Matthews is currently second in points by rookies behind his teammate Mitch Marner and leads all rookies in goals. The 2016 1st overall pick has shown why he went number one overall this past summer with his goal scoring ability, his speed, and his beautiful hands. This is a deep rookie class and there will be plenty of competition down the stretch, but Matthews will be the most consistent in the back half of the season and will take the Calder in June.
Art Ross Trophy (Most Points): Connor McDavid — Edmonton Oilers
(Preseason Pick: Connor McDavid — Edmonton Oilers)
McDavid currently leads the league in points with 56, two clear of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Ross race will be fun to follow down the stretch and should be a shootout between these three players. However, in the end, the 19-year-old will get the last laugh and collect his first of multiple Art Ross Trophies.
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player): Sidney Crosby — Pittsburgh Penguins
(Preseason Pick: Sidney Crosby — Pittsburgh Penguins)
Like I said earlier, Crosby is almost unstoppable when he’s at the top of his game. Well, Sid is at the top of his game right now. He is producing offensively, as he always does, but has also rounded out his game and has been great defensively this season. Crosby is the best player on the planet and will win his third Hart Trophy at season’s end. Like him or hate him you have to respect the fact that there simply is no one better than him right now.