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 and for research.


(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’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

Comments (38)

  1. Why doesn’t Nick Backstrom (caps not wild) get a look at the Lady Byng?

    • He certainly could, very worthy. 20 PIMs in 48 games might be pushing it, considering I thought 14 might, though.

  2. hard to really argue with any of those and I follow your logic.

    My only complaint (and not directed totally at you Justin), and it has been for a long time, is the Selke. It seems to have turned into best defensive forward who also can play offense. None of your picks are BAD picks for the award but there has been little love for the 3rd line defensive guys for way too long now in my opinion. The guys who play most against other teams top lines and are really one of the reasons the Selke was originally invented in the late 70′s. Boyd Gordon would that mold.

    • You do realize that Quennville likes to match power with power at times and plays his top line against the other teams top line (i.e. Toews against other teams best forwards).

    • In the dying minutes, draw in our zone, down a goal, I definitely feel more comfortable having Toews out there. People forget – skill works in the d-zone too. Guys like Toews make plays to pull pucks out of guys feet, juke them, and generally trick them to help the puck out of the zone. It’s why straight pluggish forwards don’t win this award much anymore.

  3. Where’s the Vezina?

    Judging from your all-star list, I’ll assume you were going BOB, anderson, rask, in that order. Leaving Lundqvist off is a bit criminal. Anderson had great numbers, but he only played in 24 games this year. Rask slipped a bit at the end of the season. I’d put hank in there. BOB has made a great case for it, but how many goalies have won the Vezina without making the playoffs?

    • The Vezina’s voted on by GMs, not hockey media.

    • As I prefaced my comments “hard to really argue with any of those and I follow your logic.” and that included the Selke.

      It is just a pet peeve of mine. The Selke was built to award the pluggerish player that wouldn’t win an award any other way but was still very valuable to his team in his role. Your top 3 in another year could win the Hart. Should they be top 3 for the Selke this year based on how the award has mutated from its original intent? Absolutely.

      Same as the Norris. You used to see the odd def dman get this. Now not so much.

      Anyways good article/rational for your first time voting choices.
      /soap box mode off as I need to go and chase the kids off my lawn now:)

  4. Stupid question, but can you actually reveal this info? I know you’re one of many media people, but still.
    The gambling in me is hoping enough voters reveal their picks, and then I’ll run to the bookies!

  5. I would argue that Saad should at least be in the top 5. Granted, he played the majority of the season with a Jedi at center, but still.

  6. Regarding Suter vs Subban, I feel I should refer you to Habs Eyes on the Prize, which used some fancy stats to point out that Suter isn’t actually that good…

    As for the minutes per game, why is it better to play more and yet be worse? Is Brian Campbell also better than Subban, simply for playing more per game? Is Tyler Bozak actually the 18th best forward in the league?

    “As in, how desperately their team leaned on them throughout the season.”
    -Subban was heavily leaned on once he was given some time to get back into the swing of things. Unlike Suter, he did not have a pre-season to get back into game shape. Subban was heavily leaned on *when it counted*.

    “work he did bringing rookie Jonas Brodin along”
    -Brodin actually played better than Suter, according to the fancy stats in the link above. Furthermore, Subban isn’t exactly blessed with the greatest partners. Markov has slowed a lot, and none of the other Habs Dmen are all-stars (yet; I have high hopes for Beaulieu and Tinordi, but they’re far from all-star quality)

    “he did this after the crazy UFA summer that uprooted his life”
    -Subban’s life wasn’t uprooted, but he was crazily low-balled by Bergevin and kind of forced into holding out. Despite that turmoil, despite the claims of cancer in the locker room and that he wouldn’t play another game for Montreal, he had a fantastic season. Frankly that seems bigger than signing a UFA contract in July, then having 6 months to adapt to the idea.

    I think you’re right about the pick, in that Suter will win. Why? Because people don’t like Subban. They over analyse his faults and then ignore his strengths – even while complimenting other players for the same strengths. He deserves the Norris, because he was the best Dman in the league this year, bar none. He ran the Habs powerplay, but also managed to shutdown the opposition (such as when he spent 30min in their 6-5 comeback win vs Boston, a game in which he was +3, only on for 1 Boston PP goal, and when he spent 29min shutting down Stamkos and St. Louis, neither of whom managed a point that game).

    Here’s more fancy stats, showing how Subban this year was better than Karlsson last year:

    • “Please refer to this thing a Canadiens blog wrote about why a Canadiens player deserves an award over another player.”

      In all seriousness (apologies for the snark, I’m teasing, that was a good post by Habs Eyes on the Prize), a lot of the analysis in that post leans on “possession,” which sounds like a lot more concrete fact than “shots attempted =/- while guy on the the ice.” “Play-driving” and “possession” have become the gospel in advanced stats, but I don’t think they’re where they need to be yet for me to say that my eyes have betrayed me. I think it’s a great stat with value, but not enough to make me change my mind in this case.

      I don’t think “more minutes” and “tougher minutes” are worth sloughing off, either. Related: it’s amazing that fans of Subban have taken my point – I used TOI as a factor – to mean “TOI ends up as an exact ranking of who is good and who isn’t.” Again, it was a factor. It’s intentionally missing the point (and annoying) to say “Is Brian Campbell better than Subban?” Come on now.

      I stressed how tough the decision was in the commentary. I literally switched the names once, then back again. It’s that close for me. And it’s harder because I LIKE PK SUBBAN. I’m a huge fan of what he does. “People don’t like Subban” is a copout way of saying *I* don’t like Subban, because you’re commentating on my post that picked him second. And that’s weak sauce.

      It’s a vote for a reason. Maybe enough people will see it your way. I’ve explained why I see it mine.

      • You are correct, you did say how tough it was, and I feel I should apologize. I did exaggerate your points rather wildly, and it was not fair of me. I do still feel that Subban had the better season, because he did play the tough minutes (such as my example of when he played a big part of shutting down St Louis and Stamkos), and did very well in doing so, just after a bit of time easing into the season.
        And I honestly think he was better this year than Karlsson was last year. I mean, he was on pace for 74 points, while Karlsson had 78, but Subban is/was much better defensively than Karlsson.

        But ultimately, the point of this comment is to apologize for my inappropriately harsh reaction. Sorry :\

    • Let’s consider the time on ice argument against Subban. He has the 35most TOI for D. That’s (borderline) #1 D minutes. So he’s played as the #1 D on his team, but his coach plays his defensive lines more equally. So Subban is not as valuable proportionally to his team, but this doesn’t measure his absolute value to the team. I’ve purposefully framed this like Hart trophy discussion. I feel like the only reason that PK might not win the Norris is because of how Therrien has used him.

      • Now my name might give away some bias that I have but if it helps I also really like the Wild. All that being said, Suter had a great season and totally deserves the award,

        I think that consistency should also factor into the decision. Subban was good from day one on the Montreal blueline. He has a few off weeks (as did all of Montreal) in the middle of April but played consistently strong throughout.

        Suter was pretty terrible for the first bit of the year. That bad start almost cost the Wild a playoff spot. I would say that Suter is the more valuable defenceman on his team as without him the Wild’s blueline is looking pretty thin. However, the Norris is for the best defence man.

  7. I think there’s inconsistent logic here in saying Crosby deserves the Hart over Ovechkin but that Nash deserves the First team spot over Hall. Not to say that I disagree with the Crosby pick, because I think he is the MVP by any measure beyond “most valuable in the context of his team.” He’s the best player on the planet and he played enough games to prove it this year. I just think the logic is applied differently in those 2 cases.

  8. Great picks, great read. Thanks for your insight on the game.

  9. I dont mind these picks, in fact I like them—with the exception of the Calder. It appears you have put most of your emphasis on points—and in that case how is Justin Shultz so low? This is a dman who almost had more points than any other rookie. If you were to look at all-around play than I think youd have to go with Alex Galchenyuk. Kid got a limited opportunity this year in regards to his linemates and still was productive.

    • I would imagine Schultz is so low as he was fairly terrible at actually playing defense. Especially late in the year. The offense got him into the top 5, but there was nothing of defensive value to get him over the hump.

  10. Datsyuk for Lady Byng. No Hart consideration and 2nd to Toews for Selke. I just heard my heart crack open.

  11. I would still go with Gallagher for ROY based on points, combined with his willingness to play in the ” dirty areas” of the ice. For an undersized rookie, his net-front presence and work in the corners is VERY impressive!

  12. Interesting seeing Boyd Gordon on the list. Not that I don’t approve I just didn’t expect the recognition.

  13. Bournie,

    From one Long Islander to another: How in the hell do you not even put Tavares into the Hart discussion? Also, how is it that Frans Nielsen gets NO respect for the Selke Trophy? He plays against the top line every night!

  14. Boyd Gordon gets a Selke vote? Really? I didn’t follow Phoenix all that much so I don’t know what kind of year he had. Good on him.

  15. Sid for Hart – I love you. That is all.

  16. Thanks for being transparent in your picks -it provides a good perspective.

    The only thing I would quibble with is the exclusion of Jay McClement as a Selke candidate (not winning the award, I think you nailed it with Toews), but at the end of the day it’s your list, and I respect the fact that you willing put yourself out for criticism on them.


  17. I’m not really arguing your awards, although Kopitar probably deserves being listed in the Selke voting.

    But no Kings on the all star team? No Carter? No Doughty (even though he had only 2 fewer points that OEL while playing more difficult minutes, and a fair amount more of them, more shifts per game, with a similarly low shooting % and more shots taken? c’mon…

    Gotta be a bit of Kings homer and say there should have been at least one of those dudes mentioned in there.

  18. I think Gallagher needs to be at the top of your Calder list…only 3 points less than Yakupov and Huberdeau and that’s with much less ice time and power play time. Played most of the year with another rookie linemate, still finished a plus player, AND helped his team actually make the playoffs.

  19. Thanks for being so open with this post, I enjoy hearing a voters rational

  20. Even though Sens made playoffs, their coach does not deserve jack Adams, i swear they had two 5 game losing streak, and a 6 game stretch where they never got two points. I understand key guys were out but they fell off down the stretch as they were ahead of leafs but dropped all the way the 7th. If he wins it will show how people did not watch sen games but just saw who was injured on their team and how they made playoffs. Q, and boudreau did much more for their teams.

    • He made the NHL playoffs with an AHL team – playing rookies/AHLers Zibinejad, Silvferberg, Lehner, Bishop, Borowieki, Wiercioch, Benoit, Dziursinky, Conacher, Pageau, Gryba all regular minutes during the year.

      He lost his number one C (top 5 scorer last year, Norris winner, NHL stat leading goalie, top winger, and top 4 dmen in Cowan.

      I could have coached the Hawks to first overall.

      • I think that Therrien should get it and it doesn’t need much explanation-who in thier right minds could have predicted the habs second in the east? I am not a fan of either team and would be happy with either coach winning, but I’m finding it hard to fathom noone, outside of habs fansites, are calling for therrien to win the jack adams.

  21. Other than 2-5 on the Norris voting, I like pretty much this entire ballot. Good work!

  22. I don’t get how you could have Toews for Hart consideration when he’s playing on a team with Kane. Toews may be the more rounded player but no way do the Hawks win the President Trophy without Kane.

  23. Glad to hear you have a vote, Justin. We need more ex-players and less career pencil jockeys deciding these things.

  24. No mention of Getzlaf, Beauchemin or Fasth. The Ducks hate is strong with you I see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *