Peng: My PHWA 2018-19 Awards Ballot

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Two San Jose Sharks are finalists for end-of-season awards, Brent Burns for the Norris Trophy and Joe Thornton for the Masterton Trophy. But honestly, neither were finalists on my ballot.

No doubt, both are strong candidates for their respective awards. I’ll disclose my reasoning shortly.

This is Burns’s third go-around as a Norris finalist and a chance for his second Norris Trophy.

Burns credited his teammates for his success, “You have to play with great players for that to happen.”

He added: “I’ve been blessed in San Jose to play with guys like Jumbo, learn from a guy like him and Patty. Dan Boyle. Going down the list.

“You try to take little things for everybody. This year, getting to see [Erik Karlsson] and getting to know him on a different level.”

The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) selects seven NHL awards: The Hart, Lady Byng, Calder, Norris, Conn Smythe, Masterton and Selke.

Here’s my ballot:

HART TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”)

1. Sidney Crosby (PIT)

2. Nikita Kucherov (TBL)

3. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)

4. Patrick Kane (CHI)

5. Connor McDavid (EDM)

Kucherov is the favorite, but Crosby’s two-way game swayed my vote in his favor.

By definition, “most valuable to his team” should elevate players like Kane and McDavid, who were such a big part of their inferior teams’ success.

I’m still of the orthodoxy, however, that the MVP should come from a playoff team (save extraordinary cases). That’s a limitation in my thinking which I’m open to revising, but for now, I try to balance team success and “where would they be without this guy?”

This line of thinking probably also gives Crosby an edge over Kucherov.

NORRIS TROPHY (“to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”)

1. Mark Giordano (CGY)

2. Morgan Rielly (TOR)

3. Victor Hedman (TBL)

4. Brent Burns (SJS)

5. John Carlson (WSH)

As we saw in the Colorado series, Burns is capable of heavier defensive usage.

But this is a regular season award, and Burns was second in the league among defensemen with a 68.06 Offensive Zone Start Percentage at 5-on-5, behind only Torey Krug. Basically, he saw a heavier concentration of offensive zone faceoffs, as opposed to defensive zone faceoffs, than virtually any other defenseman in the league.

For comparison, Giordano, at 48.73, was 68th of 124 qualified defensemen (1000+ minutes at 5-on-5).

This is not a knock on Burns — this is how Peter DeBoer used him, how DeBoer believed Burns and San Jose would flourish. And it’s hard to argue with the results, as Burns continued to be a terrifying offensive force.

Essentially, Burns was deployed as an offensive-first blueliner in the regular season, as opposed to the more balanced Giordano.

As noted, Burns flashed his defensive wherewithal in the post-season. But I think Giordano had more opportunities to demonstrate his “all-around ability” during the regular season.

CALDER TROPHY (“to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition”)

1. Elias Pettersson (VAN)

2. Jordan Binnington (STL)

3. Miro Heiskanen (DAL)

4. Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)

5. Anthony Cirelli (TBL)

The top two were pretty clear-cut. If Binnington had come up earlier, perhaps he would’ve topped Pettersson’s eye-popping exploits.

Between Heiskanen and Dahlin, Dallas’s reliance on Heiskanen (23:07 Time on Ice Per Game, third on the Stars) trumped Dahlin’s early growing pains.

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. Aleksander Barkov (FLA)

2. Morgan Rielly (TOR)

3. Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

4. Jaccob Slavin (CAR)

5. Tomas Hertl (SJS)

SELKE TROPHY (“to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”)

1. Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

2. Sean Couturier (PHI)

3. Patrice Bergeron (BOS)

4. Mark Stone (VGK)

5. Aleksander Barkov (FLA)

MASTERTON TROPHY (“to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey”)

1. Patrick Eaves (ANA)

2. Robin Lehner (NYI)

3. Corey Crawford (CHI)

My top-two was clear here.

Eaves didn’t end up as a finalist, but his struggle with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a life-threatening disease, and brief comeback this season exemplifies the Masterton.

Lehner’s battle with addiction and bipolar disorder was equally inspiring.

Between Crawford’s concussions and Thornton’s knee injuries, both returned to play from serious ailments. I selected Crawford but could’ve easily gone with Jumbo.

NHL All-Star Team


1. Sidney Crosby (PIT)

2. Connor McDavid (EDM)

3. Aleksander Barkov (FLA)


1. Nikita Kucherov (TBL)

2. Patrick Kane (CHI)

3. Mitch Marner (TOR)


1. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)

2. Brad Marchand (BOS)

3. Alex Ovechkin (WSH)


1. Mark Giordano (CGY)

2. Morgan Rielly (TOR)

3. Victor Hedman (TBL)

4. Brent Burns (SJS)

5. John Carlson (WSH)

6. Seth Jones (CBJ)


1. Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL)

2. Frederik Andersen (TOR)

3. Darcy Kuemper (ARI)

I still reward starting goalies for playing a much larger share of games than their back-up, which is why Ben Bishop (45 starts) and Lehner (43 starts) fell a little short in my book. About 50 starts is my admittedly somewhat arbitrary cut-off number.

That’s not my only standard, obviously on-ice results matter, so Vasilevskiy (53 starts), Kuemper (55 starts) and Andersen (60 starts) provided a nice blend of what I was looking for.

In the case of Bishop, he would’ve played more if he had stayed healthy. But it’s like Burns and his lighter defensive zone start usage at 5-on-5: I’m judging by actual on-ice results, and not potential.

NHL All-Rookie Team


1. Elias Pettersson (VAN)

2. Anthony Cirelli (TBL)

3. Brady Tkachuk (OTT)


1. Miro Heiskanen (DAL)

2. Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)


1. Jordan Binnington (STL)