Well, it’s almost time for some puck and I’m more excited than a kid watching his chimney on Christmas Eve. To kick off the excitement for opening week, let’s take a look at which Sharks could potentially bring home some hardware after the regular season.
Hart Trophy (MVP)
Potential Candidates: Brent Burns
If you had told me a couple of years ago that a Sharks player would finish top five in Hart Trophy voting in 2017, I would have guessed that his name started with a J and rhymed with Joe. But here we are, in the present day, and Brent Burns has turned into one of the greatest offensive defensemen in the world. Brent’s 76 points and near-30 goal season (no, I can’t believe that either) earned him the fourth spot in 2017 Hart Trophy voting. At the halfway point of the season last year, Burns was tearing up the league like no D-man had in a very long time. He was in contention for the scoring title! As a defenseman! No defenseman has won the scoring title since the great Bobby Orr in 1974-75.
Odds: 50 to 1
What will have to happen: If Burns flirts with the scoring title throughout the year, who knows, San Jose could see its second-ever MVP award winner (the first going to Jumbo Joe Thornton in his first year with the Sharks). One thing is for sure, if the team’s production drops off after the All-Star break like it did last year, Burns won’t have a chance. It’s also very likely Connor McDavid will score 100+ points again, Sidney Crosby will be Sidney Crosby, etc., so don’t hold your breath on this one.
Norris Trophy (Most Outstanding Defenseman)
Potential Candidates: Brent Burns
It’s still kind of surreal that Brent Burns became the first Norris Trophy winner for the Sharks this summer. This is a guy who only a few years ago was playing forward for the same team. He’s had his issues playing in his own end, but he has turned into an absolute monster in the offensive zone. Burns, who had never put up more than 46 points in a season before moving to San Jose, has now put up 60+ points in the last three seasons for the Sharks.
What’s changed? Well, he shoots the puck more. Like, a lot more. Burns became the first D-man this century to lead the league in shots, putting 320 pucks on frame last season. His ability to walk the blue line, get around shot-blockers, and successfully get the puck through traffic has made him a force to be reckoned with both on the power play and at even strength. It also helps when the team has Joe Pavelski in front of the net, the best shot-tipper in the league.
Can he do it again this year? If Burns keeps shooting the puck every chance he gets, I don’t see any reason why he can’t.
Odds: 6 to 1
What will have to happen: The Norris Trophy is an award that will people will argue about until the end of time. It’s hard to pick the best defenseman in the league because there aren’t a lot of widely-accepted metrics available that measure defensive success. What usually happens is the defenseman with the most points wins the Norris. 4 of the last 6 Norris winners led all defensemen in points at the end of the year. Erik Karlsson, two-time Norris winner and the perennial favorite for this award, is out with an injury to start the season. If Burns can get an early jump in the scoring race, it could be his award to lose.
Lady Byng Trophy (Gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability)
Potential Candidates: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski
Logan Couture finished 24th in Lady Byng voting last year, and may have had a better shot at the award had he played a full 82 games. Usually the Lady Byng is given out based on two factors, and two factors alone: most points and fewest penalty minutes. Last year’s winner, Johnny Gaudreau, finished with 61 points, which isn’t astounding, but only picked up 4 PIMs. Last year Couture scored 52 points in 73 games, and picked up only 12 PIMs. Joe Pavelski finished 30th in Lady Byng voting last year, and we all know he has no issue putting up points.
Odds: Couture 25 to 1, Pavelski 30 to 1
What will have to happen: Both guys won’t have a chance to win this award unless they steer clear of the penalty box.
Vezina Trophy (Most Outstanding Goaltender)
Potential Candidates: Martin Jones
OK, let’s be real for a second here. There are a lot of elite goalies in the National Hockey League. This award seems to go to someone new every year. Carey Price, the best goaltender in the world in my opinion, has only won this award once. It’s very hard to win. Having said that, I believe Martin Jones can absolutely win this award. His numbers weren’t great last year, but he’s a reliable starter for a team that has improved a lot defensively and will win plenty of games. The guy did take his team to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year as a starter. Guys like Price and two-time winner Sergei Bobrovsky have never even sniffed the Final.
Odds: 25 to 1
What will have to happen: Jones will have to play 65 games this year (just like he has the past two years), and win 40 of them. With how well Aaron Dell has played, it’s hard to say if he will be given that big of a workload. His 2.40 GAA and .912 save percentage will need to improve as well.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Potential Candidates: Daniel O’Regan
Now, admittedly, this one is a stretch. Likely candidates will be top draft picks, guys like Nolan Patrick, Dylan Strome, Nico Hischier, Cody Glass, Charlie McAvoy, Clayton Keller and Nylander the Younger. But you’ll also notice those names aren’t names like Conor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Artemi Panarin, Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine. Those guys were eligible for the Calder when some of the most elite players in the league were rookies. The crop of rookies this year isn’t nearly as strong as it has been the past two years. O’Regan scored an insane 58 points in 63 games for the Barracuda in his first year as a professional. If he cracks the big club’s lineup for most of the year, he could have an outside shot. Marcus Sorensen is also eligible for the award, and he put up decent points as a young player in Sweden.
Odds: 120 to 1
What will have to happen: A combination of two things: 1. Other rookies will have to underperform 2. O’Regan will have to put up numbers like he did in the AHL, which won’t be an easy task.
Agree? Don’t agree? Did I (very likely) forget someone? Think someone not named Patrice Bergeron actually has a chance to win the Selke? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.