3 Bruins to Watch for 2023 NHL Awards Contention

While the season may have not yet begun, it is never too early to start making some guesses as to what Boston Bruins players may end up in the running for the 2023 NHL Awards. The team has a number of players who could make a real run at some hardware when the 2022-23 season is all said and done. 

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Of course, the most important trophy is the Stanley Cup and only time will tell if the Bruins are a legitimate contender for that. But, it is always fun to see your favorite players recognized for their talents. As the season goes on, there will be a clearer picture of who are the real contenders. For now, these are just some possibilities that could be in the running.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy – David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak is one of the best goal scorers in the league. The 26-year-old has been impressive since coming into the NHL and has made his name as an elite goal-scorer. It’s what will get him a huge payday this year (he’s in the final year of a six-year, $40 million contract).

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Charlie McAvoy celebrating. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

So far in his career, Pastrnak has 240 goals in 510 career NHL games. Last season, even with a slow start, he scored 40 goals, the second most in a single season of his career. The most he has ever scored in a season is 48 back in the 2019-20 season. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy that season, sharing it with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Last season, Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs very much ran away from the competition with his incredible 60-goal season. Barring another year like that, Pastrnak should be one to watch in this category. With his talent, the fact that he’s healthy, and that it’s a contract year for him, expect a lot of goals from him in 2022-23.

Selke Trophy – Patrice Bergeron

Look, at this point, any time Patrice Bergeron plays an NHL season, he’s going to be in the hunt for the Selke Trophy. Last season, at age 36, he won it for a record-setting fifth time. He had an overwhelming victory last year, receiving first-place votes from 160 out of 195 ballots submitted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Besides 2022, Bergeron also won the trophy in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. He’s been a finalist in 11 consecutive years, so it’s a safe bet to presume he’ll be there again this season.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When his career is all said and done, Bergeron will be remembered as one of the greatest two-way forwards the game has ever seen. If Brad Marchand brings the heart and fire to this Bruins offense, then Bergeron is the reliable gravitational center that holds the whole thing together. Whenever he retires, there will be a huge hole left in his place that won’t be filled for a very long time.

William M. Jennings Trophy – Jeremy Swayman & Linus Ullmark

The Bruins have as good of a goaltending duo as any other NHL team. With Jeremy Swayman another year older and now with a full regular season under his belt, and Linus Ullmark going into his second year in Boston, they could be a real contender for the Jennings Trophy.

The trophy is awarded to the goalie(s) with the fewest goals scored against in a minimum of 25 games. Both Ullmark and Swayman have proved to be strong goaltenders who can each play 20-30 plus games during the regular season. They both had their ups and downs in 2021-22 but hit their strides in the second half of the season. So far, both have had good training camps and preseason showings as their comfort in the league (Swayman) and the organization (Ullmark) grow.

The Bruins last won this award in 2020 with the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Barring any injuries, Swayman and Ullmark will be splitting the crease again this season. They may currently be ranked eighth in the league for goalie tandems, but could easily rise up the ranks this season and be a dark horse for this trophy when the 2022-23 season comes to an end.

Injuries Affecting Awards Contention

Marchand and Charlie McAvoy both made great cases to be included as finalists last season for the Norris and Hart Trophy respectively. Unfortunately, they most likely won’t be huge factors for either award this year due to the fact both of them will miss the start of the 2022-23 season. Both players had offseason surgeries and are not expected to return until November/December. With the level of talent in this league, it would be a significant challenge to play themselves back into award contention.

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The 2022-23 season will finally begin this Wednesday for the Bruins against the Washington Capitals. Until then, any thoughts on awards are just that, thoughts. There are 82 games ahead and a lot will happen between now and the end of the regular season in April. We’ll have a better idea then if any of these players become legitimate contenders for NHL Awards.

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