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2018 NHL Awards Tracker: Caps have work to do after the All-Star break

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2018 NHL Awards Tracker: Caps have work to do after the All-Star break

The Pro Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) held a vote for midseason NHL awards. The vote was open to members of the PHWA and fans. The results were released Friday and no Capitals player was among the three finalists for any of the awards.

Clearly if anyone from Washington is going to win hardware this season, they will need a strong second half to the season.

For clarity’s sake on these, the PHWA votes on several awards at the end of the season, but not all of them. Since this was just an informal exercise, the PHWA vote was for every award regardless of who ultimately decides those awards at the end of the season. The vote also included a few made up awards that do not actually exist such as the Rod Langway award for the best defensive defenseman.

SEE THIS WEEK’S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am a member of the PHWA and I did vote. Here are the results:

Hart Trophy - to the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team.

1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
3. John Tavares, New York Islanders

Norris Trophy - to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position.

1. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
3. John Klingberg, Dallas Stars

Selke Trophy - to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
3. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Calder Trophy - to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.

1. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
2. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
3. Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins

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.

1. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres

Vezina Trophy - to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position.

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
3. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Jack Adams Award - to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success.

1. Gerard Gallant, Vegas Golden Knights
2. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets

GM of the Year Award - to the General Manager adjusted to have contributed most to his team's success.

1. George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights
2. Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Ray Shero, New Jersey Devils

Rod Langway Award - to the defenseman who best excels in the defensive aspect of the game.

1. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
2. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Comeback Player of the Year Award - to the player who returned to a previous high level of performance that was interrupted by subpar play, long-term injury or major illness.

1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils
3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Those results, however, are for the first half the season and not a projection for who will ultimately win the award. Victor Hedman, for example, is first for the Norris, but as he is out with injury it seems unlikely he will ultimately win the award.

Be sure to check out this week’s 2018 NHL Awards tracker here to see where they differ from the PHWA’s midseason awards!

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning Monday afternoon, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old.

General manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June.

Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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