NHL Awards: Kaprizov, McDavid headline PHT midseason winners
There are less than two months to play in the 2020-21 NHL regular season. While we don’t have an All-Star break this year to take a look back at the first half, now is as good of a time to get a gauge on the front-runners for the major NHL awards.
There’s been plenty of surprises and disappointments so far, and it’s never too early to begin discussing who could be up for the big trophies come summer time.
The PHT team was asked for their midseason winners for the following NHL awards: Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder, Jack Adams Award, and Selke.
Let us know your winners of the midseason NHL awards in the comments.
HART TROPHY (voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association)
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Connor McDavid. Sheesh, you think McDavid spent the offseason reading about how Nathan MacKinnon was the best player in the world. Along with the huge point totals, it’s McDavid’s ability to make the extremely difficult look sublimely simple. It’s not that easy; McDavid is just that good.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Connor McDavid. His pal Leon Draisaitl has his own strong case, but the Oilers captain has been incredibly dominant this season. In over 500 minutes at 5-on-5, his expected goals (27.82) leads all forwards, per Natural Stat Trick. Also, of Edmonton’s 103 goals scored, he’s had a direct hand in 53 of them (17 goals, 36 assists).
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Connor McDavid: I thought a lot about the Canadian division and if the wild goal scoring is kind of unfair to pick an MVP out of there, but each division is kind of a mess so whatever, McDavid is the best player.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Connor McDavid. I am not really sure how it is not him at the moment. He is running away with the scoring title and could top 100 points in a 56-game season while helping to carry a flawed Oilers team to the playoffs. He is an unbelievable offensive force. The best we have seen since Mario Lemieux.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Connor McDavid. He is easily the NHL’s best player and this season he has been on fire with 53 points in 31 games. It’s hard to believe in a 56-game schedule but he has a realistic shot at 100 points.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Patrick Kane. The surprising Blackhawks are getting unexpected contributions from a few unheralded rookies, but Kane is the driving force behind Chicago’s success. Let’s be clear: this is not in any way suggesting Connor McDavid isn’t the best player in the NHL.
NORRIS TROPHY (voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association)
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Victor Hedman. He has always been a very good defenseman defensively as well as offensively but this season he has taken his offensive game to a new level with 26 points in 27 games. He is outperforming everyone, with the surprising Jeff Petry holding down second spot in the points standing as well as the Norris race.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Victor Hedman. Honestly ,I think Hedman could win this award every year, he is that good and he never seems to slow down. Leading point man among defenseman at the halfway point and a shutdown defendere. He is the best player on the league’s best team.
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Charlie McAvoy: The Bruins defense is kind of a nightmare. Who would have guessed? Luckily for them, McAvoy has progressed quickly and is absolutely carrying the load there, contributing on offense and playing on the penalty kill too. He stabilizes the rest of the mess.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Jeff Petry. With Cale Makar hurt, this field is wide open. Frankly, I expect the end-of-season pick to change, but Petry’s been a remarkable source of offense, without sacrificing defense. Wouldn’t be surprising if Charlie McAvoy overtakes Petry.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Samuel Girard. This might be Makar’s if he can stay healthy the rest of the way, but for now it’s been Girard. He’s the only defenseman with a Corsi of higher than 60% and has handled a heavier load with Makar out.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Aaron Ekblad. This may not happen purely because a defenseman usually has to work his way up intto Norris contention before he can actually win the award, but Ekblad has been that good this season for the surprising Panthers. It may be difficult to unseat some of the incumbent contenders like Victor Hedman, but an upset could be brewing.
CALDER TROPHY (voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association)
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Kirill Kaprizov. The 23-year-old has been the best rookie to date with 24 points including 10 goals and is battling Kevin Lankinen who is 10-6-4 this season for the Blackhawks in goal. I think that Tim Stützle is the best and most exciting rookie as the 18-year-old continues to amaze for the Senators but at this point in time it is Kaprizov who is deserving of the trophy.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Kirill Kaprizov. We do not need to overthink this. He is the best rookie in the league by a wide margin and has completely transformed the Wild into a must-watch team. That alone is an accomplishment.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Kirill Kaprizov. Much like with McDavid, sometimes it’s best to take the K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid) approach. Complain about his age all you want, Kaprizov’s lived up to the hype -- and then some.
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Kirill Kaprizov: He’s also the funnest player, if that is an award. He can have that one, too.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Kirill Kaprizov. He’s going to face a battle with Stützle coming on, but the hype train is fast right now for the Wild rookie. He has 24 points in 26 games and has been an invaluable part of Minnesota’s rise this season.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Kirill Kaprizov. Unless his teammate Kaapo Kahkonen sustains his current form and steals some votes, Kaprizov is my heavy favorite.
VEZINA TROPHY (voted on by the NHL’s general managers)
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Andrei Vasilevskiy. Speaking of the K.I.S.S. approach, I probably should’ve just gone “chalk” with my preseason Vezina pick. Vasi was impeccable last season, including during a Conn Smythe-level playoff run, and he really hasn’t stopped. He’s a workhorse who brings quality with all of that quantity.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Andrei Vasilevskiy. Three shutouts and an NHL best .944 even strength save percentage, a 13.26 goals saved above average, and a .900 high-danger save percentage make the Lightning ‘tender a clear front-runner.
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Andrei Vasilevskiy: Not to be boring but he’s been the best goalie this season and has honestly been the most reliable goalie for a long time. He plays a ton and he doesn’t really slump.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Andrei Vasilevskiy. He is the best goalie in the NHL. He is 17-3-1 with 1.85 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage. Fleury is right behind him but Vasilevskiy’s win total gives him the edge.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Andrei Vasilevskiy. With all due respect to Marc-Andre Fleury’s fantastic start, Vasilevskiy is the best goalie on the planet and deserves the Vezina once again. It would take a serious second-half slump to remove him from my Vezina perch.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Marc-Andre Fleury. What a redemption story this is. After losing his starting job in the playoffs and looking like he was on his way out of Vegas, he has come back this season and played what is probably the best hockey of his career. He has never received much attention in Vezina voting in his career, but that is definitely going to change this year. I am not sure if he will beat Andrei Vasilevskiy, but he would get my vote at the moment.
JACK ADAMS AWARDS (voted on by the NHL Broadcaster’s Association)
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Joel Quenneville: Almost picked Barry Trotz because the Islanders are still overlooked, but I do not believe anyone honestly thought the Panthers would be competing with literally Tampa. Real impressive stuff in South Florida.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Joel Quenneville. There are a few worthy contenders at the halfway point, but let’s give the Cats some love. Quenneville’s stamp is being put on this franchise and turning them into a competitive bunch in the Central with the third-best points percentage in the NHL (.750) and points in five of six games against Tampa and Carolina.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Joel Quenneville. Hard to ignore how good the Panthers are right now, and unlike most Jack Adams contenders he is not relying on all-world goaltending to get his wins. His team is just really good and exceeding every expectation anybody could have had for it in a pretty good division.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Dean Evason. There are always good arguments to be made for multiple coaches, so I’m not suggesting Evason is the runaway favorite. Jeremy Colliton, Todd McLellan, Rod Brind’Amour, Joel Quenneville, and Barry Trotz are also contenders in my book. But Evason gets my first-half vote because he’s taken a historically mediocre team, and turned them into legitimate contenders.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Barry Trotz. The feeling was that, eventually, the Islanders would run out of steam -- possibly once their goalies regressed. Instead, this team keeps getting better. I’m not saying that’s all Trotz but ... maybe, I don’t know, 90%?
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Jeremy Colliton. I think the job he has done in Chicago is tremendous. I thought the Blackhawks would be fighting it out with Detroit for the basement and possible first overall pick in the NHL Draft but lo and behold, Colliton has them in the thick of the Central playoff race and that’s without his top two centers Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach all season.
SELKE TROPHY (voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association)
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: Aleksander Barkov: One of the most underlooked players in the entire league and he’s had a solid Selke reputation for a bit, but this feels like the year he gets fully recognized.
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Aleksander Barkov. For a while, Barkov’s Selke-worthy reputation overtook his recent reality as more of an offensive play-driver. This season, Barkov’s converting that perception to an all-around impressive reality.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Mark Stone. Wingers almost never get attention for this award unless they are Jere Lehtinen. So you have to be great to get serious consideration for it. Stone is that great. He is probably the best two-way winger in the NHL right now and you could probably even put together a strong MVP argument for him. He would be in my top-five for sure.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Joel Eriksson Ek. Second in the NHL in expected goals for percentage (65.14%), tops on the Wild in goals (11), and has excelled against top line competition all season. He’s been a integral part in Minnesota’s success this season.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Patrice Bergeron. You can never go wrong with the Bruins forward, although he should get a battle from the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly.
Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Anze Kopitar. There is simply no better two-way center in the NHL. He never makes a mistake, is an elite faceoff guy, leads a top-10 penalty kill unit...and by the way, is in contention for the scoring title* (*for all players not named McDavid or Draisaitl).
LADY BYNG TROPHY (voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association)
As a reminder, this award should be voted on by NHL referees and NHL referees only.