None of us here at Fear the Fin are members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association or the NHLPA, nor are we players or General Managers, which means we don’t have a vote at tonight’s NHL Awards.
What we do have, however, is the power of this blog to publish our “ballots” for all of the award winners announced at tonight’s proceedings, except for the Masterton and Ted Lindsay, given the difficulty of choosing among the three nominees with the former, and the latter’s status as a player-voted award.
So, seven writers (including the author of this post) anonymously submitted ballots for the Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Calder Trophy, Selke Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy, Jack Adams Award, and General Manager of the Year Award.
Kyle was the lone dissenter to vote for Sidney Crosby, and I would have as well had I properly filled out a Google Form. I did so because Crosby carried a team that dealt with significant injuries, and managed to lead the league in goals despite missing the first seven games of the season due to injury. However, McDavid is absolutely a worthy pick, because of his league-leading 100 points and gargantuan effort carrying the Edmonton Oilers on his back to their first postseason appearance since 2006. Crosby and McDavid are the current and future face of the league, respectively, but McDavid’s time may arrive as soon as next season. That is, if it hasn’t already.
So what if we wore teal-tinted glasses while voting? Yes, we unanimously selected San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, and rightfully so. Burns, despite an extended slump to end the season, led all defensemen in points (76) and goals (29) and broke his own franchise records in the process. While we took C-3PO’s advice and let the Wookiee win, I nearly voted for Karlsson. Burns is the odds-on favorite for the award according to Bovada, but I’d suspect Karlsson’s performance carrying an over-matched Senators squad to the postseason made some writers sweat out the decision.
Another unanimous selection, as all seven voted for Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews. Matthews dazzled from the very beginning of the season with his four-goal performance during his NHL debut, and led all rookies with 40 goals and a nice 69 points. The better question to ask than “will Matthews win the Calder tonight” would be “is Matthews the best American player alive?” At least in the eyes of this author, the answer to both questions is yes.
Another award in which the staff reached a general consensus, the Vezina Trophy is Sergei Bobrovsky’s to lose. He finished third in the NHL in wins (41, one less than league leader Braden Holtby), tied for the league lead in save percentage (.931; min. 20 games played) with San Jose Sharks backup Aaron Dell, and led the Columbus Blue Jackets to their best season in franchise history. Bobrovsky, who won the award in 2013, proved once again that, when healthy, he is one of the league’s best goaltenders.
The 31-year-old Patrice Bergeron remains the NHL’s best defensive forward, and has been one of the few bright spots among the Boston Bruins’ recent struggles. Bergeron’s begun to show signs of decline, scoring his lowest point totals in an 82-game campaign since 2009-10, but can tie Bob Gainey for most Selke wins all-time with a win tomorrow night.
Lady Byng Trophy
Our first tie! All three candidates would be deserving winners, considering they combined for less penalty minutes (28) than 25 of the 92 players that suited up for their respective teams. Gaudreau was only assessed two minor penalties the entire season! Each player would be a first-time winner, and the sixth different winner in the past six seasons.
Jack Adams Award
It’s hard to believe but Mike Babcock has never won a Jack Adams Award. As an award often reserved for “coach of team that overachieved,” Babcock may finally be able to add the Jack Adams to his collection following the Leafs’ first playoff appearance since 2013. Few expected Toronto’s talent to come together so quickly, and Babcock deserves a lot of credit.
General Manager of the Year
One of our writers voted for Peter Chiarelli, but let’s be real: David Poile won this award on June 29, 2016 when he traded defenseman Shea Weber to Montreal in exchange for defenseman P.K. Subban. Now, Nashville has arguably the league’s best defensive group, and its top four blueliners are all locked up for the foreseeable future. Yes, Nashville snuck into the postseason as the lowest overall seed, but Poile’s set up his roster for the present and the future as well as anybody.
So there you have it! Sound off in the comments if any of our picks were egregiously wrong, and with your picks.