Leon Draisaitl

If the NBA and NHL seasons don't resume, these are the major award winners

If the NBA and NHL seasons don't resume, these are the major award winners

"If the season ended today."

Of all the cringeworthy things we say in sports, it's perhaps the most cringeworthy.

But, like ... what if the season did end?

Two leagues have hit the pause button right before the stretch run, which is just wildly unsatisfying. Around now, we should be talking about playoff seeding, MVPs and more.

We can leave the playoff simulations to the video game people, but if the NBA and NHL regular seasons are dunzo, here are the winners.


MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

The Freak goes back to back. The guy is top three in points per game and rebounds per game, plus he's led an otherwise not-great roster to the best record in the NBA.

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Grizzlies

There’s obvious temptation to put Zion Williamson here because of how sensational he’s been since missing the first three months.

That said, Morant has played like a veteran All-Star at a position that’s supposed to take a couple years to develop in the pros. He’s got the Grizzlies in the playoffs, for gosh’s sake. 

Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans

Jayson Tatum might have become the favorite here if they'd played a couple more weeks before stopping. Ingram's 24.3 points per game in his first season with the Pelicans put him ahead of Tatum (23.6 points).

However, Tatum has taken off so much since late January (28.6 points per game since Jan. 30 compared to Ingram's 21.8) that he'd have likely passed Ingram after 82 games.

Sixth Man: Lou Williams, Clippers

I don't know, probably?


Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Oilers

A no-brainer. Drasaitl has been the best player in the league this year, and his 15-point lead on the rest of the NHL in points (110 through 71 games) illustrates that.

Where might David Pastrnak (tied for the league in goals) finish in the race if it were decided today? I'll say fourth behind Drasaitl, Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid.

Vezina Trophy: Tuukka Rask, Bruins

You love to see it. Rask ranks first in save percentage (.929) among goalies with at least 30 starts, and his five shutouts are tied for second in the league.

Connor Hellebuyck (tops in the NHL with six shutouts) has 56 starts to Rask's 41, but only one goalie the last decade has won the Vezina with a save percentage as low as his (.922).

Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Capitals

From Natick to Norris. Carlson has 74 points in 69 games, plays 24:38 minutes a game and does so against tough competition.

From the "WHAT?!" category: Dougie Hamilton would have been a finalist if he didn't get hurt. Dude had 14 goals and 40 points in 47 games.

Selke Trophy: Sean Couturier, Flyers

This one's tough. My vote would be Patrice Bergeron because I think he's better. That said, he missed time that Couturier hasn't, leading Couturier to give him the edge in points (59 to Bergeron's 56).

When you add in that Couturier leads the league in faceoff percentage (Bergeron is fifth), it's reasonable to think voters will give the Flyers center his first win before giving Bergeron his fifth. 

NHL Positional Rankings: Ranking the league's top 10 centers right now

NHL Positional Rankings: Ranking the league's top 10 centers right now

It’s no coincidence that most of the favorites for the Hart Trophy play the center position.

Leon Draisaitl is the consecutive top pick for the NHL MVP this season given his season-long dominance for the Oilers, and Connor McDavid seemingly has a birthright to be in the running each season provided that he’s healthy.

But Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews are in that discussion as well, and guys like Mika Zibanejad and Jack Eichel are on the periphery of it even if their team’s flickering playoff hopes may have a negative impact.

This is a quality list of strong two-way centers, dominant offensive players and given an indication why teams like Edmonton and Pittsburgh will make the playoffs given they each have two names on the list.

Click here to see the NHL's Top 10 centers right now.

Bruins-Oilers Talking Points: David Pastrnak won't be denied in OT

Bruins-Oilers Talking Points: David Pastrnak won't be denied in OT

GOLD STAR: David Pastrnak has some nights when he plays well and there are other nights when he’s the single biggest reason the Bruins win a game. Wednesday night was more the latter than the former as Pastrnak set up Boston’s only goal in regulation and then scored the winner in overtime after breaking behind the Edmonton defense before scoring his 43rd goal.

Pastrnak finished with a team-high six shots on net and a whopping 13 shot attempts in 18:17 of ice time with a plus-2 rating. Pastrnak was whistled for a tripping call in the final couple of minutes of the third period and seemed to be on a mission from the time he got out of the box prior to getting that OT breakaway chance. There was little doubt he wasn’t going to come through.

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BLACK EYE: I don’t know who Patrick Russell is, but he played 3:31 in an OT loss for the Oilers when Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse pulled close to 30 minutes in the game for an injury-ravaged roster. So, perhaps it could have been a different outcome if Russell could have lightened the load for some of Edmonton’s top players.

The truth is, though, that the Oilers are going to struggle for as long as key guys Connor McDavid and James Neal are both out. And there wasn’t much from a negative perspective to write about for the Edmonton players in a competitive game they could have easily won against Boston.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins came out strong in the first minute of the second period, didn’t score but then battened down the hatches for the rest of the middle 20 minutes.

Edmonton outshot the Bruins 18-9 and peppered Tuukka Rask on a few power-play possessions in the period, but the Bruins didn’t buckle under the pressure. Instead, Rask stopped all 18 shots he faced in the second period and wasn’t beaten for a goal until the third when a high deflection made it past the Bruins goaltender.

Part of the reason the B’s eventually picked up the full two points was how well they kept the puck out of the net in the second.

HONORABLE MENTION: Rask has been excellent coming out of the All-Star break and he was that kind of good against the Oilers on Wednesday night. Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots, including making saves on those 18 shots in the second, including a couple of Oilers power plays.

Rask only allowed a deflected goal in the third that tied the score on a shot that he couldn’t have been expected to save. Otherwise, he was perfect and continues to team with Jaroslav Halak to be one of the unquestioned strengths of this team.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-7 – the Bruins went 0-for-7 on the power play in one of the few things to be discouraged about from a B's perspective.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Just a little breakaway, and I saw him try to poke-check so I decided to go five-hole there. Lately, we’ve been good [in overtime] so hopefully, we’re getting some confidence back.” –David Pastrnak, on NESN talking about his overtime game-winner.