Not every team has crossed the 41-game threshold yet, but it’s close enough for disco. For any newbies, I like to go through the major NHL awards and decide by my own parameters who should win but probably won’t because hockey is stupid and weird and values the wrong things. Anyway, let’s to it:
Hart Trophy – Nathan MacKinnon
You can give this to Connor McDavid, and much like the Mike Trout Corollary you’d never be wrong to do so, but MacK should be zeroing in on his first MVP (he finished second to Taylor Hall two years ago). The Avs have lost everyone else who matters for some length of time–LaxativeLog, Rantanen, Makar, and either of the goalies–and have still found themselves comfortably in 2nd in the Central and waiting for the Blues to cool off to chase them down. He’s only two points behind McDavid for the scoring title, and he hasn’t had his running buddies all year like McJesus has with Draisaitl.
Calder Trophy – Cale Makar
While Victor Olofsson has passed him in the rookie scoring race (whoever that is), that’s only because Makar was out injured. The Avs are simply a different team with him around, evidenced by their demolition of the Blues last night with him and deservedly losing to the Hawks at home without him. Quinn Hughes might make this interesting for a minute or two as well, but Makar is still well ahead of the field.
Vezina – Connor Hellebuyck
He won’t get it, because he’s down the list of top save-percentages or GAA among goalies. But considering he’s got no defense in front of him and he’s by far the biggest reason the Jets are still in an automatic playoff spot, he’s the pick here. Varlamov and Bishop play behind stout defenses, and Lehner is going to fall apart here soon enough. Kuemper is out longer-term so that ruins his chances. Hellebuyck has to perform small miracles every night after Josh Morrissey or Tucker Poolman cover themselves in their own vomit. Hellebuyck has the best difference between his SV% and his xSV%, and that’s enough for mer.
Norris Trophy – Dougie Hamilton
This is where things get interesting. Because everyone has their own theory on how to define the best “defenseman.” Some think it should be to whoever is playing the best defense. Others just find who scored the most points from the blue line and give it to him. Which makes the answer probably to split it, and give it to who’s been the best player who happens to be a d-man. And that’s Hamilton. He’s within, barely, enough points of John Carlson to not make that automatic, and his metrics are simply the best in the league (best CF% and second-best xGF%). Hamilton’s relative numbers blow Carlson’s out of the water as well.
If you’re looking for simply the Rod Langway award, which would go to the blue-liner playing the best defense, you can honestly make a serious case for Connor Murphy. No, I’m not kidding. His relative numbers in keeping attempts and chances down relative to how terrible his team is are second and third best in the league. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Selke Trophy – Zach Aston-Reese
This one always goes to whatever center people can remember wins a lot of faceoffs and scores a lot, so basically Patrice Bergeron. But we can do better. Aston-Reese has the lowest Corsi-against per 60, the lowest expected goals-against per 60, and he does that while only starting 30% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Seems pretty simple to me.