Hurricanes’ NHL Award Candidates

As we get closer to the end of the regular season, names start to get thrown around for the NHL Awards. Last year, the Carolina Hurricanes saw defensemen Jaccob Slavin and head coach Rod Brind’Amour win some hardware. Slavin won the Lady Byng Trophy for the most sportsmanlike player, and Brind’Amour won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. Both could bring those trophies home again, but some offseason additions and older players who have stepped up could mean that more trophies find a home in Carolina.

#FreddieforVezina

As I recently discussed on TheHockeyWriters Podcast, the Hurricanes have been a huge factor in Frederik Andersen’s game this season. He was drafted by the organization 187th overall in 2010 but never played with the team. Cam Ward was still in his prime, meaning that Andersen would be nothing more than a backup. He was drafted again by the Anaheim Ducks 87th overall in 2012. In 2013, he played his first NHL game, notching a win. 

In 40 games played in Raleigh this season, Andersen has a 30-8-2 record and, with Antti Raanta, is a huge reason the Hurricanes are dominating the Metropolitan Division with a 41-13-5 record. He is tied for first among goalies with a 2.06 goals-against average and second in save percentage with .929, behind Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers. 

He has been a star with his cool, calm personality and has the ability to track the puck and use the whole surface of the goal crease. He trusts himself and he trusts his teammates, and when they struggle in the third period, Andersen always remains strong.

Andersen recently missed a handful of games after experiencing some concussion-like symptoms, stating that he would rather err on the side of caution. His first game back on March 12, was a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers that elevated the Hurricanes to the top of the league standings.

Up to this point, Andersen has been a much-needed blessing to the Hurricanes, and it seems that coming to Carolina has been an equal blessing for the great Dane. 

The Boys Have HART 

Many players on the Hurricanes could become Hart Memorial Trophy nominees as their team’s most valuable player. As a goalie, Andersen has been exceptionally strong, Teuvo Teräväinen is an underrated star at forward, and on defense, Tony DeAngelo proved himself to be exactly what the team needed. 

Andersen is Hart of the Team 

Andersen should be a front-runner for the Vezina Trophy, he is equally qualified for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The 32-year-old is a huge reason the Hurricanes are sitting where they are in the standings. 

For the past couple of seasons, the Hurricanes’ goaltenders have been good but not great. Andersen came in, and his impact was immediate after a couple of seasons with goalies who were good, but not great.

Frederik Andersen Carolina Hurricanes
Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Freddie has often carried the team, especially on nights when the players in front of him have not been at their best. He’s been the heart of the team this season, and he has fans rejoicing. The stats don’t lie; he is one of the best goalies in the league, and the best the Hurricanes have seen since the days of Cam Ward. He deserves all the praise coming his way. 

We Don’t Talk About Tony 

Like him or hate him, DeAngelo has been a huge asset for the Hurricanes this season. Before his injury, he was consistently rated among the top ten defensemen in points, goals, and assists. He has arguably been a huge asset to the team after the loss of defenseman Dougie Hamilton. 

People could bring up his past use of racial slurs during his junior days as a reason for him not to be a nominee for Hart, – what does this mean? but he has continued to be strong on defense and fit in well with the team. He found a place on the top line with Jaccob Slavin and has shined. He has been an offensive talent to behold and something the Hurricanes needed in their lineup. To date, he still remains in the top fifteen defense for points (40), assists (31), and goals (9) despite his injury.

Related: Hurricanes’ Defenceman Tony DeAngelo Is Looking Like a Bargain Signing

When asked who is the funniest guy on the team, Brett Pesce said DeAngelo, showing the rapport he has built with the team, and he will always stick up for his teammates. Like many players, he wears his heart on his sleeve. While that isn’t always a good thing, as was seen when he had an altercation with Alexandar Georgiev before being placed on waivers with the New York Rangers, it appears to be doing him well in Carolina.

The Hurricanes gave him a second chance and he’s shown his worth in spades. I once stood next to a young fan at PNC Arena and was told by his parents that DeAngelo comes over and visits every pregame. Sure enough, when DeAngelo skated out, he threw himself against the glass in front of that fan. He’s taking the second chance Don Waddell gave him and soaring with it. He’s another big reason the Hurricanes are where they are in the standings, and while the defense has stepped up in his absence, he is definitely missed. 

Let’s Talk About Teuvo

When Teuvo Teräväinen played for the Chicago Blackhawks, he was played throughout the forward lines. This turned him into the strong player that he is today. Teräväinen is a playmaker more than a scorer. If he senses his teammate has a better scoring chance, he will pass the puck. He has developed size and power since his days in Chicago. He’s happy to let others shine while still making mindful plays. 

When he was injured in January, there was a notable difference in linemate Sebastian Aho’s play. Aho has said that when Teräväinen is on the ice he doesn’t need to think about where to pass the puck because his fellow Finn will be there. They recently broke a record for most goals by a duo in franchise history when they topped Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen’s previous record of 170 goals. In February, Teräväinen figured into seven out of eight power-play goals, matching Sidney Crosby for most power-play points by any player league-wide for the month. 

Former teammate Kimmo Timonen said in 2016, ‘”He can be a superstar in this league.” If he wanted to be the star, he easily could, but he chooses to let his teammates shine. He isn’t going to shoot the puck just to shoot the puck but will wait until he sees a good opportunity. The SAT Line makes up three of the top four goal scorers and assists on the Hurricanes. They have the most points on the team, most power-play goals, and most power-play points. Teräväinen stands alone in short-handed goals, out of the entire roster he is the only player to have even scored a goal let alone two.

His injury showed just how important he is to his line and on the power play. He is a star who has elite skill and capability. When he plays, his love of the game of hockey makes him an invaluable player to the team. For that reason, he is easily one of the Hurricanes candidates for Hart.  

DeAngelo for Norris? 

It’s hard to deny the offensive skill the Sewell, New Jersey native has. DeAngelo has been a gift to the defensive line and the power-play unit, having the smarts to quarterback plays and help create scoring opportunities. 

Tony DeAngelo Carolina Hurricanes
Tony DeAngelo, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Paired with Jaccob Slavin, who is able to get pucks out of the defensive end, allows for DeAngelo to get them up the ice. He has been clutch on the powerplay getting sixteen powerplay points in 43 games. In the nine goals, he has scored this season, two have been game-winning goals. He leads Hurricanes defensemen in goals, assists, and points and leads the team with a +19 rating. 

“I want to show that I’m not what people say I am and that if a team is willing to take a chance [on] me, that I will help their team, be good in the community and be there for a long time. I think I can help a lot of teams. I am hopeful and I am staying positive. I’m just a guy who wants to play hockey.”

-Tony DeAngelo (from ‘Tony DeAngelo bares his soul in first comments since Rangers exile,’ New York Post, February 13, 2021)

Don Waddell and the Hurricanes took that chance and it is paying off in tremendously for them. He has been positive towards the fanbase and many have grown to push past the initial doubts they had. He was signed at a one-year $1 million contract, but is appearing to have priced himself out of that if the Hurricanes chose to re-sign him next season. 

It will be interesting to see how the saga of DeAngelo plays out, but it would seem he has found the right fit and will be part of the blue line for a long time. He is the offensive-defensive talent the team was looking for and deserves the nomination for Norris. 

Repeats from 2021 

In 2021, the Hurricanes saw two NHL Awards being awarded within the franchise. Good guy Jaccob Slavin won the Lady Byng for being the most sportsmanlike player and head coach Rod Brind’Amour won the Jack Adams Award for best coach. Each could easily see those awards again. 

Slavin is known for his faith and for bringing that same devotion into everything he does, both on and off the ice. Slavin tries to live his life by the golden rule, treat others the way you’d want to be treated. It’s the way he plays the game as well and why he always ranks among the lowest penalty minutes on the team. 

Slavin’s name is already on the minds of voters and with being the type of player and person he is, could see a repeat reminiscent of Pavel Datsyuk between 2006-2009 and Martin St. Louis who won the award three times in 2010, 11, and 13. 

On the Jack Adams side of things, the key to win is to be the coach who is ‘adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.’ Seeing how far the Hurricanes have come since the mid-2010s shows what kind of impact Brind’Amour has for his team. It makes sense seeing how he was once the captain of the team. The team has made the playoffs every year since the former captain has taken over. 

Related: 2021-22 Jack Adams Award Race

Last season they ended the season first in the Central Division and were close to winning President’s Trophy for most points. This season has mirrored that and even saw Brind’Amour as a coach for the Metropolitan Division in the 2021 NHL All-Star Game. Even when fans may doubt his line combinations, they still trust in Rod, and many times that pays off. His passion for the team shows and he has been the answer to Carolina’s long-awaited Stanley Cup dreams. 

The Bottom Line 

The Hurricanes have many options when it comes to potential candidates for NHL Awards. Freddie Andersen for Vezina and Brind’Amour for Jack Adams among the top of those. A coach hasn’t won it in consecutive seasons since Jacques Demers between 1987-88, but if anyone is going to do it, it would be Brind’Amour. With the way DeAngelo has played this season, he could easily be a contender for the Norris and Hart, he has come back with a bang. Teräväinen may not be the name people go to for Hart, but he has skill that is invaluable to the team. Lastly, Andersen is a name that needs to be on everyone’s list for Vezina and Hart alike. He has been a superstar this season and it has lifted his confidence on and off the ice. Carolina may have been overlooked in previous season, but this squad is cementing a name for themselves in the NHL history books. 


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