Whether or not the 2019-20 season resumes, it is likely the NHL will hold its yearly award ceremony. At the 2018-19 NHL awards, the Canucks had one player nominated, and he won as well. Elias Pettersson became the first Canuck to win the Calder Memorial Trophy since Pavel Bure did in 1991-92. Pettersson was the second player to do so in history and there is a good chance that Quinn Hughes will be the third player.
Calder Memorial Trophy
Hughes has had a stellar season, posting 53 points in 68 games, which leads all rookies this season. He played in five games last season and is eligible to win the Calder. The Canucks will have a player nominated for the trophy for the third season in a row. The rookie defenseman is considered a strong favorite along with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. Hughes is having a historic season as he was on pace to have the all-time high in single-season points for a Canuck defenseman.
Hughes has slowly pulled away as the favorite for the Calder Trophy over the past few months. Makar missed 13 games this season, which allowed Hughes to take a three-point lead in rookie scoring. He was also one of the three Canucks players to play in the 2019-20 All-Star Game. His offensive abilities are impressive and he does well in the defensive zone as some may not expect from a smaller and offensive-minded defender.
“I think there’s a misconception about how good he is defensively,” Benning said. “The way he skates, the way he can eliminate time and space, how smart he is, like, stick on stick, reading the play. We play him against the other teams’ top lines every night and he holds his own, and because he’s such a great skater, he shuts down some of the best players in the League.”
The Canucks have not had a goalie who has won the Vezina Trophy in their 50-year history. This is quite surprising as they had Roberto Luongo as their starting goaltender during the prime years of his career. During his time with the team, Luongo was nominated for the award twice, the last time being the 2010-11 season. Jacob Markstrom has built a strong case to be nominated for the award this season.
Before suffering a lower-body injury, he had faced 1,420 shots against and made 1,303 saves in 43 games. In February his shots against were good for sixth among goaltenders and his saves were third. He’s also had some big games for the Canucks such as the 43-save shutout win against the Carolina Hurricanes in December and a 49-save shutout win in February against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Not only is Markstrom a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy, but he also has a strong argument to be considered a Hart nominee. His All-Star season has consisted of him carrying the Canucks to multiple wins this season. The team has allowed the seventh-most shots on net but are 14th when it comes to goals allowed. He has had 30 saves in 19 different games this season. In the 23 wins for him this season, the Canucks have outshot the opponent only in seven of those games.
After losing Markstrom to a lower-body injury, the team lost five of the eight games they played without him. Although it is unlikely that Markstrom would win the Hart Memorial Trophy due to Draisaitl’s dominant season, he is deserving of a nomination at the very least.
Jack Adams Award
Travis Green was hired by the Canucks after the 2016-17 season and is in his third year as the head coach. He would be the third coach in Canucks history to win the Jack Adams Award as Pat Quinn did in 1991-92 and Alain Vigneault did in 2006-07.
The team has improved over the past three seasons with Green as head coach. They had a 31-40-11 record in his first season and improved in his second season. In 2018-19, they finished the season with a 35-36-11 and in 2019-20, their record is 36-27-8 after playing 70 games. Not only have the Canucks surpassed their total wins from last season but they have done it in 12 fewer games. Green is deserving of a nomination for the Jack Adams Award due to the team’s consistent improvement under him.
Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award
Jim Benning has made some questionable moves as general manager but his transactions this past offseason and during the season have helped the team improve. Acquiring J.T Miller this offseason is a good place to start. The Canucks sent goaltender Marek Mazanec, a 2019 third-round pick and a conditional first-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lighting. Miller surpassed expectations as he is leading the team in points with 72 points in 69 games and has 27 goals, which ties him with Pettersson.
Related: Jack Adams – The Man & the Award
The Canucks added depth on defense signing Tyler Myers as well. The trade for Tyler Toffoli before the trade deadline has paid off for the Canucks so far. They traded Tim Schaller, Tyler Madden and a second-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings to acquire the right-winger. He has 10 points in 10 games with the team so far.
Benning has made the necessary trades to allow the Canucks to fight for a playoff spot this season. Once the season resumes, the Canucks will have enough depth to continue and fight for a spot in this season’s playoffs. Miller and Toffoli will be able to provide the young core with playoff experience, which may lead to a deep run for the team. Benning deserves a lot of credit if they are able to reach the playoffs and make a deep run this postseason.
Award Nominations Show Improvement
The Canucks have improved this season with five potential award nominees. After only having Pettersson nominated for an award last season they will be well represented at the 2020 NHL awards. Markstrom’s potential Hart and Vezina nominations would help him in contract negotiations this offseason. Hughes winning the Calder would be a great way to end his first season as it puts him in a class with Hall of Fame defenders such as Bobby Orr, Brian Leetch, and Ray Bourque. The 2020 NHL awards could be the first of many appearances for the current Canucks core.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.