SC's Mid-Season NHL Awards
Source: AP Photo/Nick Wass
It’s been a season full of ups and downs (mostly ups, unless you’re a Sabres fan) but we have finally reached the halfway point! So that means it's time to give out some hardware for my midseason awards. Here are my picks.
Hart/Art Ross Trophy
The beginning of the season I liked Mitch Marner to take the Hart trophy but the last few weeks the Leafs forward has been slowed down. While Marner's production has dropped, the Oilers Connor McJesus is on a disgusting pace. Nobody would've thought that a 100 point season would be possible with a 56 game season. yet McDavid is on pace to flirt with that mark.
Not only does McDavid lead the league in scoring, but he is also tied with Auston Matthews for the most goals in the NHL as well. With the Oilers surging in the North Division, McDavid has clearly been the MVP, so unless something drastically changes he should be adding some more hardware to his already impressive trophy case.
The Vezina Trophy is a two man race at this point in time. Marc Andre-Fleury and Andrei Vasilevskiy have clearly played themselves into this discussion. MAF entered the year as the backup, but since Robin Lehner took a leave of absence the Flower has shone. He's been stellar and has helped Vegas become one of the best teams in the league. Fleury, is third in wins and third in GAA amongst starting netminders. He’s been stellar.
The only other guy that's ahead of him in the Vezina race is Andrei Vasilevskiy. Tampa’s netminder has blown away the competition. The last time the former Vezina winner lost a start was over a month ago. Impressively, he's been playing great while facing the 4th most shots against this season and has continued to show his dominance, even while the team has dealt with some big injuries. He’s in search of his second nod at the Vezina and it's hard to bet against the defending Stanley Cup champion at this point in the season.
The Norris trophy could come down to the final stretch of the season. Victor Hedman, Quinn Hughes and Drew Doughty are at the top of the list, but Tyson Barrie and Joel Edmundson could have a say before the dust is settled.
The frontrunner in my mind is the Big Swed Hedman. Hedman's play has helped the Lightning PK become one of the best in the league, he also happens to be one of the best point getters amongst D-men in the league. It's not easy scoring on the Lightning when you have the big Swede defenceman on the ice and in your face. His game keeps excelling. Hedman is my Norris trophy winner at the halfway point.
There is no question that the Wilds' Kirill Kaprizov should take home this year’s rookie of the year. He wasn't on the radar coming into this season with a lot of fan fare going to the Rangers Igor Shestyorkin. But with the Rangers netminder being out with an injury, Kaprizov has been a lighting rod for the Wild.
He leads the team in goals and scoring this season, he also leads all rookies in almost every offensive category. Kaprizov is on pace to eclipse most of the team's rookie records. He's exciting to watch and is so far the clear cut winner for the calder trophy.
The average fan would definitely go to the well and pick either Bergeron or Kopitar, and even though both are great picks there's someone who should get the recognition they deserve. The Panthers centre Aleksander Barkov. Barkov's game has changed for the better under Quenneville, and has been on fire on both ends of the ice. His goals allowed expected on the ice is 3.4, but his goals expected is over 13. He's won over 50 percent in the faceoff circle and is a plus-9. Twice in Barkov's career he’s finished in the top 5 of Selke voting, I think 2021 is the year finally gets it.
Obviously, both Matthews and McDavid are winners for the Rocket at the halfway point of the season. It looked like Matthews would run away with the Rocket but the Leafs star has missed some time with a wrist injury. Since coming back he's only registered three goals. Mcdavid is now neck and neck and could possibly take his first Rocket trophy of his career. Could it be possible we might get a tie for the second straight year by season's end?