Welcome to the fourth installment of the annual Year-End Awards here at The Hockey Writers.
At the conclusion of every National Hockey League season, we ask all active writers to submit their picks for the following categories. Voting was conducted by e-mail between April 16 and June 1, while voters were instructed to provide up to three choices (a first, second and third-place vote) for each category, focusing on regular season accomplishments. All active THW contributors were eligible to vote, regardless of if they were brand new or a seasoned veteran.
First place votes were worth 5 points, second place votes were worth 3 points and third place votes worth 1 point apiece. Ties were broken by way of first place votes. Overall, 16 ballots were cast for the awards.
THE WAYNE GRETZKY AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER)
Modeled after the NHL’s Hart Trophy, this award seeks to acknowledge the player who had the best year and whose contributions most helped his team succeed.
WINNER: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (receiving 8 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 13 of 16 ballots)
A clear favourite of our voters, Price was (by far) Montreal’s best player, and the biggest difference-maker on any team this past season.
RUNNERS-UP: John Tavares of the New York Islanders and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals
PAST WINNERS: Sidney Crosby (2014), Sidney Crosby (2013), Evgeni Malkin (2012)
DETAILS: 8 different players (six forwards, two goalies) received votes and four players were first-choice selections. Devan Dubnyk received two first-place votes and finished a distant fourth in the balloting.
THE TEEMU SELANNE AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING ROOKIE)
Modeled after the NHL’s Calder Trophy, this award showcases the first-year NHL player who had the most outstanding season.
WINNER: Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 11 of 16 ballots)
In what was this year’s tightest race, Ekblad and first runner-up Johnny Gaudreau actually tied in points. Ekblad’s stellar defensive season in Florida earned him one more first-place vote than Gaudreau (who appeared on more ballots total), and so Ekblad wins the tie-breaker.
RUNNERS-UP: Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators
PAST WINNERS: Nathan MacKinnon (2014), Jonathan Huberdeau (2013), Gabriel Landeskog (2012)
DETAILS: Five first-year players (four forwards, one defender) received votes and four of them were first-choice selections. Filip Forsberg finished just off of the podium.
THE MARTIN BRODEUR AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING GOALTENDER)
Modeled after the NHL’s Vezina Trophy, this category celebrates the goaltender who had the most outstanding season.
WINNER: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (receiving 16 of 16 first-place votes)
Considering that he was voted the league’s best player by our voters, there’s absolutely no shock that they also felt he was the best at his position. Price runs the table.
RUNNERS-UP: Devan Dubnyk of the Arizona Coyotes/Minnesota Wild and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators
PAST WINNERS: Semyon Varlamov (2014), Sergei Bobrovsky (2013), Jonathan Quick (2012)
DETAILS: 8 different goalies received votes, but only Price received first-place votes.
THE BOBBY ORR AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSEMAN)
Our version of the Norris Trophy, this award is given to the defenseman who had the most outstanding season, focusing on all aspects of the position.
WINNER: Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 11 ballots)
Last year’s first runner-up (and 2012’s winner), Karlsson has been a model of consistent excellence for a young Senators club.
RUNNERS-UP: P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings
PAST WINNERS: Duncan Keith (2014), P.K. Subban (2013), Erik Karlsson (2012)
DETAILS: 12 players received votes and six of them garnered first-place votes. Karlsson more than doubled the player with the next-most first-place votes. Roman Josi and Mark Giordano rounded out the top five.
THE EDDIE SHORE AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE DEFENSEMAN)
In a bit of a divergence, stemming from a bit of a perception that the Norris Trophy focuses more on a defender’s scoring prowess than their ability to stop the other team’s best players. So here we have a category that celebrates the shutdown defender, awarding this to the defenseman who had the most outstanding season, focusing primarily on the defensive aspects of the position.
WINNER: Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings (receiving 4 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 7 of 16 ballots)
Doughty finished the race with a sizable lead on the second-place finisher.
RUNNERS-UP: Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lightning
PAST WINNERS: Marc-Eduoard Vlasic (2014), Zdeno Chara (2012 & 2013)
DETAILS: 23 different players received votes and 11 of them got at least one first-place vote. Ryan McDonagh and Mark Giordano rounded out the top five finishers.
THE DOUG JARVIS AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE FORWARD)
Our version of the Selke Trophy, this honours the forward who had the most outstanding season, focusing primarily on the defensive aspects of the position.
WINNER: Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 11 of 16 ballots)
Patrice Bergeron’s stranglehold on this award has been broken, as Toews edges him out by nine points (and two first-place votes).
RUNNERS-UP: Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning
PAST WINNERS: Patrice Bergeron (2012, 2013 & 2014)
DETAILS: 16 players received votes and 6 of them received first-place votes. It was basically a two-horse race, with Toews and Bergeron combining for 12 first-place votes. Of the remaining field, only Derek Stepan appeared on more than two ballots, but Palat’s first-place vote was enough to eke him into a third-place finish.
THE SCOTTY BOWMAN AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING COACH)
Our version of the Jack Adams Award, this goes to the coach who had the most outstanding season.
WINNER: Bob Hartley of the Calgary Flames (receiving 8 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 10 of 16 ballots)
Bringing a team that most thought would be in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes into the playoffs? That was enough for our voters to give Bob Hartley this award by a large, large margin.
RUNNERS-UP: Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning
PAST WINNERS: Patrick Roy (2014), Paul MacLean (2013), Ken Hitchcock (2012)
DETAILS: 10 coaches received at least one vote, with five earning at least one first-place vote. Hartley had double the points of Laviolette. Paul Maurice and Barry Trotz rounded out the top five.
THE SAM POLLOCK AWARD (MOST OUTSTANDING GENERAL MANAGER)
Awarded to the general manager who had the most outstanding season.
WINNER: Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 10 of 16 ballots)
Yzerman wins for the second season in a row, more than doubling the points of the first runner-up.
RUNNERS-UP: Garth Snow of the New York Islanders and Kevin Cheveldayoff of the Winnipeg Jets
PAST WINNERS: Steve Yzerman (2014), Ray Shero (2013), Dale Tallon (2012)
DETAILS: 14 different general managers received votes, with 7 different GMs being a first-place selection. After Yzerman, the voting clumped together, with Snow, Cheveldayoff, Glen Sather, Bob Murray and Brad Treliving being separated by just six points from top-to-bottom.
BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE SEASON
Left deliberately open-ended, this award honours the biggest surprise of the regular season – the player or team that most wildly exceeded expectations.
WINNER: The Calgary Flames (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 9 of 16 ballots)
The “Find A Way Flames” shocked the league with their performance, and so they’re voted the biggest surprise by our panel.
RUNNERS-UP: Devan Dubnyk (of the Arizona Coyotes/Minnesota Wild) and the Winnipeg Jets
PAST WINNERS: The Colorado Avalanche (2014), The Columbus Blue Jackets (2013), The Ottawa Senators (2012)
DETAILS: 11 different teams and players received votes, with 6 of them earning first-place votes. The Nashville Predators were eked out by the Jets by a single point.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE SEASON
The flip-side of the previous award, this award signifies the team or player who most wildly fell short of what collective wisdom said they should be.
WINNER: The Los Angeles Kings (receiving 7 of 16 first-place votes and appearing on 10 of 27 ballots)
Last year’s Stanley Cup champions were besieged by injuries, cap troubles, legal troubles and inconsistency. They beat out their biggest challenger by a clear margin. By wonderful coincidence, the Kings (the league’s biggest disappointment) were edged out for the final Pacific Division playoff spot by the Flames (the league’s biggest surprise).
RUNNERS-UP: The Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks
PAST WINNERS: The Vancouver Canucks (2014), The Philadelphia Flyers (2013), Alex Ovechkin (2012)
DETAILS: 11 teams (and players) received votes, with six of them receiving first-place selections. The Dallas Stars and the Columbus Blue Jackets round out the top (or bottom, as the case may be) five.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.