Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks

I’m proud to announce that this is my first full year as a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, which means I’m one of the folks who has the privilege of voting on the annual NHL awards. I’m taking the responsibility seriously, as the awards can actually affect people’s lives (particularly in a financial matter), and most certainly affect the historical record of our game.

I feel like the goal of award voting is not to prove yourself some unique, high-minded viewer of the game, but to simply award the trophies to players who legitimately earned them during the given season. That means where there’s obvious answers, you take them, and don’t try to get too cute with it. And of course, having stats to back up your opinions is pretty key.

Aside from my own viewing and opinions, I largely used Hockey-Reference.com and NHL.com for research.

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(1) NHL Trophies



HART TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”) — Five selections

Some quick thoughts on Hart Trophy voting before the big reveal:

* I’m voting on this award using historical context. The Edmonton Oilers would still have been a great team without Wayne Gretzky, but I believe he provided more “value” than any other player in the league when he was at his best. Same goes for Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I’m going to embed a few tweets now, but a disclaimer: I don’t agree with Tyler Dellow about the “lunatic” interpretation part. I totally get how someone could vote for the Hart Trophy differently than I did given the description above. I personally just chose not to. Still, some good points:

So with out any further ado, the player who was the most valuable to have on your NHL team was…

1) Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins

He played 36 of 48 games (75%) which was enough for me, and once you decide that he played enough games, it’s not even close. He led the NHL in scoring for 25 days (in a season only four months long) after getting injured by a puck to the face. He finished third in NHL scoring, minus the use of April. For three months, there was nobody close to the guy.

2) Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

3) Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning

4) Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks

5) Sergei Bobrovsky

 – Columbus Blue Jackets

NORRIS TROPHY (“to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”) — Five selections

1) Ryan Suter - Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks

“All-around ability” isn’t just offense, though Ryan Suter provided plenty of that – he was third in the NHL in points with 32 in 48 games. A big factor that pushed him past PK Subban for me – and believe me, it wasn’t an easy call – was what I believe to be a telling stat for defensemen (hell, all players), time-on-ice. As in, how desperately their team leaned on them throughout the season. Suter was 1st in the NHL in TOI, averaging 27:16 seconds a night. PK Subban saw his usage pick up as the season went on, but still finished with the 35th most ice time among defenseman with 23:14, a full four minutes less a night. Those stats factored in with the work he did bringing rookie Jonas Brodin along, and a few other minor things (he takes less risks than Subban, is harder on players in contained coverage, and he did this after the crazy UFA summer that uprooted his life), and I feel comfortable with this pick.

2) PK Subban – Montreal Canadiens

3) Shea Weber – Nashville Predators

4) Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins

5) Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins

CALDER TROPHY (“to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition”) — Five selections

(Note: An eligible player cannot have played more than 25 NHL games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons. A player must not have attained his 26th birthday by Sept. 15 of the season in which he is eligible.)

1) Jonathan Huberdeau - Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers v New York Rangers

It was hard to overcome the recency phenomenon with this pick, given Nail Yakupov finishing the year with a hat trick, but here’s why I did and picked Huberdeau:

He and Yakupov tied for the rookie scoring lead, with Yakupov taking top honours due to scoring more goals. Everything else tips slightly in Huberdeau’s favour. His team relied on him more heavily (he averaged nearly 17 minutes a night to Yakupov’s 14:33). He finished third among rookies in shots with 112, which is a sizeable 31 more than Yak was able to get on net. His possession stats (Corsi) are far better than Yakupov’s. Then there’s just little tidbits – a point more at even strength, a couple of shootout goals, a lower shooting percentage (so he was less lucky) – that made me decide on this order.

2) Nail Yakupov - Edmonton Oilers

3) Jonas Brodin – Minnesota Wild

Undeniably had a great season, but I found giving the award to a guy based on “he was extremely reliable” hard to do.

4) Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens

5) Justin Schultz – Edmonton Oilers

LADY BYNG TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”) — Five selections

1) Pavel Datsyuk - Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche

What’s funny about an award like this, is that people tend to want to try to spread it around – who else can we give this too? But that’s not what awards are for. Datsyuk is the definition of the award, year in, year out, so as long as he chooses to play in the NHL, he should win it. 49 points in 47 games, 14 PIMS (which is even high for him, but it’s not necessarily a “least PIMs”). All-class, all-skill.

2) Matt Moulson – New York Islanders

3) Brandon Sutter – Pittsburgh Penguins

4) Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks

5) Jason Pominville – Minnesota Wild

SELKE TROPHY (“to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”) — Five selections

1) Jonathan Toews - Chicago Blackhawks

Dallas Stars v Chicago Blackhawks

Toews does it all at both ends of the rink. Not many people care for NHL.com’s real-time stats (mostly because they’re incredibly inaccurate), but when the numbers are large, it’s safe to say there’s a reason. Toews (and Datsyuk) tied for first in the NHL in takeaways. He won the 3rd most faceoffs in the NHL, operating at a 60% success rate. He’s smart, he blankets players in his own zone like a cloak, and he’s reliable in all situations. He’s lanky, and defends well with his stick on the puck. He’s just generally annoying. All in all, he’s been great at both ends for a long time, and it’s his time to get recognized for it.

2) Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings

3) Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins

4) David Backes – St. Louis Blues

5) Boyd Gordon – Phoenix Coyotes

(2) NHL All-Star Team



CENTER — Three selections

1. Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins

2. Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks

3. Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning

RIGHT WING — Three selections

1. Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

2. Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks

3. Martin St. Louis – Tampa Bay Lightning


LEFT WING — Three selections

1. Rick Nash – New York Rangers

Really had trouble with the order of Nash and Hall here, so here were my main factors. First, Taylor Hall had eight more points, which isn’t inconsequential. I think Nash makes it up and slides by with: Most even strength goals from left wingers with 17 (Hall 12). 21 total goals to Hall’s 16  (this isn’t house hockey, goals are more valuable than assists). One less game for Nash, 22 more shots. Nash is being used 20 minutes a night, Hall 18:37. 14 of Hall’s points are on the powerplay, only nine of Nash’s are. Those things combined with general opinion – stuff like the pressure from the big trade, and dragging his team to playoffs – and I’m okay with this order. (Though I’d bet a lot of money on the order being flipped next year.)

2. Taylor Hall - Edmonton Oilers

3. Chris Kunitz
 – Pittsburgh Penguins

Really wanted to work in Henrik Zetterberg, but to deny Kunitz of a spot on one of the All-Star teams this year after a 22 goal, 52 point season in 48 games would be flat-out wrong.

DEFENSE — SIX selections

1) Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild

2) PK Subban – Montreal Canadiens

3) Shea Weber – Nashville Predators

4) Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins

5) Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins

6) Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Phoenix Coyotes

Playing over 25 minutes a night, took over 100 shots this season, 24 points in 48 games, and a crazy-low shooting percentage (again, unlucky) earns OEL a spot.

GOALTENDER — Three selections

1) Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets

2) Craig Anderson – Ottawa Senators

3) Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins

(3) NHL All-Rookie Team

FORWARD — Three selections, regardless of position

1) Nail Yakupov – Edmonton Oilers

2) Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers

3) Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens

DEFENSE — Two selections

1) Jonas Brodin – Minnesota Wild

2) Justin Schultz – Edmonton Oilers

GOAL — One selection

1) Jake Allen – St. Louis Blues