With no All-Star break in the NHL this season, there is no official midseason point on the season. However, despite some teams having numerous games cancelled or rescheduled due to coronavirus outbreaks, many teams are around the halfway points of their season. That presents a perfect opportunity to take a look at who the frontrunners are for NHL’s main awards. Let’s get started with a race that is seemingly between two players on the same team.
Hart Trophy/MVP: Connor McDavid, Center, Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid is not only the most talented hockey player in the NHL, but he is also absolutely vital to the success of his team. The Edmonton Oilers have struggled with their defense mightily in years past, and McDavid’s efforts on the defensive end, as well as the offensive end, have single handedly won them countless games. This season, McDavid has 20 goals (2nd) and 38 assists (1st) for 58 points in just 33 games, 9 more than the next player, who happens to be his teammate Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers as a team have scored 112 goals this season, meaning McDavid has been involved in over half of the team’s goals. The Oilers are currently tied for first in the North Division despite fielding a slightly below average defense and a lack of true offensive depth aside from Leon Draisaitl, which shows just how valuable Connor McDavid is to his team. (Honorable Mentions: Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Kane)
Norris Trophy/Best Defenseman: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Victor Hedman is the best defenseman in the league on the best team in the NHL. He is second in the NHL in scoring among defensemen at 29 points, with only Tyson Barrie on the Oilers ahead of him, and Hedman is easily a better defender than Barrie. Hedman provides a ton of production offensively and plays shutdown defense, which is something not all defensemen can do in the NHL these days. As hotly contested as this award is with all of the young defensemen in the league like Cale Makar and Charlie McAvoy, Hedman has been the best defenseman on both sides of the ice this year. (Honorable Mentions: Charlie McAvoy, Jeff Petry, Cale Makar)
Vezina Trophy/Best Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the NHL and it’s not just because of Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, or any of their other stars. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been an anchor in net for years now and this season has been no different. He is 19-3-1 for the reigning Stanley Cup Champs this season, and is having a similar season to his 2019 campaign when he won his first Vezina Trophy. Among starting goalies, he has the second best save percentage at .932, 7 points better than his 2019 season, and a 1.90 GAA which is 3rd in the league. He leads the league in wins and is arguably the most talented goalie in the NHL. (Honorable Mention: Marc-Andre Fleury)
Calder Trophy/Rookie of the Year: Kirill Kaprizov, Left Wing, Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov leads all NHL rookies in the 4 major statistical categories; goals (10), assists (15), points (25), and plus/minus (+10). Along with rookie goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, he has been a huge reason for the Minnesota Wild’s success so far this season. Along with leading all rookies in scoring, he also leads his own team in points and assists. Kaprizov has been the best rookie in the NHL this year and it hasn’t even been close. (Honorable Mention: Kaapo Kahkonen)
Selke Trophy/Best Defensive Forward: Aleksander Barkov, Center, Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov plays a two-way style game that virtually every Selke Trophy winner has played. Now that guys like Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar are getting older and their defensive play has started to decline a bit, this trophy is open to some new players that previously wouldn’t have had a chance to win in. Barkov’s offensive and defensive play has been vital in helping the Panthers maintain a spot at the top of the Central Division, making him a clear frontrunner at the halfway point. (Honorable Mention: Mark Stone)
Jack Adams Award/Coach of the Year: Joel Quenneville, Florida Panthers
The Coach of the Year is often awarded to the coach of a team with relatively low expectations that finds a way to exceed those expectations by a large margin. The Florida Panthers have had a similar core for a while now and have underperformed for a long time. Since 2019 with Quenneville behind the bench however, they have improved mightily. This season, the Panthers are second in the Central Division behind only the Lightning, and third in the NHL. They are finally playing up to expectations and it is in large part due to the former longtime Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench imparting his hard nosed coaching style upon the team. (Honorable Mentions: Rod Brind’Amour, Barry Trotz)
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