We are now over a month into the hockey season. Although it is extremely early, I wanted to get a little bit of a head start and take a peek at some of the main individual awards given out at the end of the season, such at the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and the Norris Trophy just to name a few. In the early going, who has the upper hand? Who may be a dark horse that has a chance to claim the award if their season turns around? I’ll take a look through each award, my current nominees, and who I think will win based on how the season has gone so far. Let’s get right to it:
Hart Memorial Trophy
Given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.
Steven Stamkos – Wow. Welcome back Mr. Stamkos. I will admit the man has had his health problems in the past, but he is playing some of his best hockey right now. He currently has 21 points in just 12 games, which puts him on pace for an absolutely absurd 143 points in 82 games. Although I’m sure that Stamkos will begin to slow down a bit, if he remains healthy, he has proven that he is one of the best in the business and should be a nominee for this award
Nikita Kucherov – Kucherov seems like he gets better and better every year. Last year, Kucherov was the main guy that stepped up in the absence of Steven Stamkos, and he has continued to produce with Stammer back in the lineup. Kucherov currently leads the NHL in goals with 13 in as many games, and been consistently producing all year. Don’t be shocked if his name continues to be mentioned throughout the season.
Connor McDavid – McDavid had a hat trick in his opening game and has been relatively quiet since. However, even in that case, he is still producing over a point per game, with 11 points in 10 games. McDavid and the Oilers will heat up sooner or later, and the 2016-2017 season Hart Trophy winner just can’t not be mentioned here as a nominee. The guy is a stud and has absolutely electric speed.
Hart Trophy Winner: Steven Stamkos
Other Potential Nominees: Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Alex Pietrangelo, Patrick Kane
Given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – The Lightning have been off to a red hot start, and Vasilevskiy is a main reason why. He has now won 9 games in a row, and boasts a 10-1 record with a .927 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA. Vasilevskiy has the potential to be an incredible NHL goaltender, and behind a team like Tampa Bay, he absolutely has a chance to win the Vezina Trophy this year, and should be a nominee if he continues his stellar play.
Jonathan Quick – Quick has resurrected himself after a couple of just okay seasons. Quick is 7-2-1 for the Kings, but has an incredible .942 save percentage and a 1.89 GAA. Although these stats will certainly deviate towards the norm eventually, Quick has shown so far this year that he can be the goaltender that many believe that he can be. He has given his team a chance in every hockey game, and certainly makes the Kings far more dangerous when he is playing like he is early on.
Sergei Bobrovksy – Bob is at it again. He has started the season off hot, just as he did last season, with a 7-2 with a .934 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA. The Jackets are a good team that will be a playoff threat, and Bob has been extremely effective in the regular season when he stays healthy, and he showed that last year. Can he do it again?
Vezina Trophy Winner: Jonathan Quick
Other Potential Nominees: Pekka Rinne, Matt Murray
James Norris Memorial Trophy
Given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.
Alex Pietrangelo – Pietrangelo has certainly stepped up since the Blues traded Kevin Shattenkirk last season to the Washington Capitals. The Blues are not necessarily a high octane offense despite having players such as Tarasenko that can score, but Pietrangelo has put up 13 points in as many games, which includes 4 goals and 9 assists. Pietrangleo ranks 9th among NHL defenseman in ice time (25:46) and is tied for 5th among NHL defensemen in +/- (+6). Can Pietrangelo continue to produce? If so, he has a chance at taking home the Norris.
Drew Doughty – If I am being honest, I have been one that always felt that Drew Doughty was overrated. A great defenseman, but one that got more attention than he deserved. So far in this young season, Doughty has been making me eat my words. Doughty is tied for 4th among NHL defenseman in points (3-6-9), 2nd in +/- (+10), and 8th in TOI/game (25:46). Doughty has been spectacular defensively, has logged important minutes for his team, and absolutely has a chance to add another Norris Trophy to his trophy shelf.
Erik Karlsson – Let’s be honest: Karlsson has not played his best hockey so far. He is coming off of an injury and has not quite been himself. Despite being a -4 through 7 games, he still has 10 points, which ranks 3rd among NHL defensemen, but leads all NHL defensemen in points per game. Karlsson will find his game eventually, and when he does: look out. He always has a chance.
Norris Trophy Winner: Drew Doughty
Other Potential Nominees: Victor Hedman, PK Subban, Ryan Suter, Duncan Keith, Brett Burns
Calder Memorial Trophy
Given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.
Clayton Keller – Keller has had quite the start to his rookie season, currently leading all rookies with 13 points and 8 goals despite playing for an Arizona Coyotes team that has struggled mightily so far this season. Keller is a -9, but it is difficult to be a plus player on a team that just won their first game on October 30th. Despite his hot start, Keller will need to continue to produce if he wants a chance to take home this award.
Charlie McAvoy – The young Boston Bruins defenseman has 8 points through 10 games, which includes 2 goals. McAvoy, who also leads all rookies in TOI/game by a long shot at 22:37, has immense potential, and is clearly getting his chance to show it. McAvoy has a strong chance to take home the Calder if he continues his play, despite being a -2 currently.
Mikhail Sergachev – Acquired in the offseason by the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin, Sergachev has been everything the Lightning wanted and more. Sergachev, like McAvoy, is a defenseman, but has notched 11 points (4-7-11) in 13 games, 5 of which have come on the power play. What may hurt the young rookies chances at this award is that he has only seen the ice for 13:21 per game, which will likely cause his stats to regress as time goes on. Nonetheless, Sergachev has a chance on a terrific Lightning team.
Calder Trophy Winner: Charlie McAvoy
Other Potential Nominees: Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, Adrian Kempe
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
Given to the National Hockey League’s top goal scorer by the NHL Board of Governors.
Nikita Kucherov – The man has 13 goals in 13 games and has been consistently producing throughout the season. Barring any injuries, Kucherov should absolutely has a chance at topping the NHL in goals for the first time in his career.
Alex Ovechkin – He may be a Capital, but the guy may be the best pure goal scorer to ever play the game. He had an off season last year, but he has 10 goals in 12 games so far this year, and is always so dangerous to take home this award, which he has won numerous times in his career.
Auston Matthews – Matthews just may have the most underrated shot in the league. The guy can absolutely rip the puck, and is just so good down low. He currently has 8 goals in 11 games, but Matthews can score in bunches, and he showed hat by scoring 40 in his rookie season. Could he take down Kucherov, Ovechkin, and others to take home his first Rocket Richard of his career? I believe he has the ability to do so.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Winner: Nikita Kucherov
Other Potential Nominees: John Tavares, Patrick Laine, Vladimir Tarasenko, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid