With the Dallas Stars snubbed at the 2018 NHL Awards last week, it is the third straight season that the club will not take any hardware back to Dallas.
Jamie Benn was the last Star to capture an award, winning the Art Ross Trophy at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign. Before that, no Star had won since Marty Turco took home the NHL Foundation Player Award for community service during the 2005-06 season.
Let’s play Stars’ advocate and see how the NHL Awards would shake out had they only been given to Dallas Stars players.
I present to you: The 2018 Dallas Stars Awards.
Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender
Had it not been for an injury late in the season, Ben Bishop just may have backstopped the Stars to a playoff berth.
With a 26-17-5 record and a pretty decent .916 save percentage, Bishop’s stats land him right in the middle of the pack as far as goaltenders in the NHL. With a mediocre defense in Dallas, Bishop had to do a little more work than should have been required of him.
The three finalists for the Vezina (Pekka Rinne, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Connor Hellebuyck) all had stellar defenses in front of them that led their team to pretty deep playoff runs. Bishop’s 2.49 goals-against average may be pretty average, but it was better than Vasilevskiy’s 2.62 GAA. So there’s that.
Bishop also posted five shutouts this season, good for fourth-place (tied) in the NHL behind the three aforementioned netminders.
Frank J. Selke Trophy – Best Defensive Forward
Radek Faksa is the guy that coaches want on the ice all the time.
Coaches from all levels of hockey—from your pee-wee-hockey-dad-turned coach to your beer league buddy to your tenured NHL bench boss—all preach playing a “two-way game” and being able to play on both sides of the ice.
Faksa is the Stars’ energizer bunny. As soon as he hits the ice, he’s hunting for the puck, frantically forechecking, and getting the biscuit back for his team.
According to Corsicahockey.com, a hockey analytics website, the Stars ranked sixth in the NHL in defense rating. Thanks in part to Ken Hitchcock’s highly-defensive coaching style and also in part to Faksa, the team’s most defensive forward.
Per Corsica, Faksa has allowed an incredibly low 25 goals against when he is on the ice. The crazy part is, aside from the top line of Alexander Radulov, Benn, Tyler Seguin, and then Mattias Janmark, Faksa spent the most time on the ice (992 minutes). The four aforementioned names allowed at least 40 goals against when on the ice. Meaning, Faksa was on the ice—a lot—and still allowed the fewest goals when he (and his line) were on the ice.
Of the three Selke finalists, Patrice Bergeron was the closest to Faksa, but the Stars’ center still has him beat. Bergeron allowed 27 goals against and played fewer minutes with 862.
The fact that Faksa spent so much time on the ice and still only allowed so few goals is a testament to his defensive prowess. So is his plus-21 rating, which ranks first on the team. In addition, the third-year forward finished fifth on the team in goals (17), sixth in points (33), first (tied) in shorthanded goals (2), and the second-best shooting percentage (14.4 percent) behind Jamie Benn.
Bonus: Faksa can score some crazy goals too.
While he wasn’t a finalist for the trophy, he did finish seventh in voting and even received two first-place votes, beating out names like Sidney Crosby, Ryan O’Reilly, and Jonathan Toews.
Norris Trophy – Best Defenseman
For much of the season, John Klingberg was in the NHL’s debate for the Norris Trophy. After a statistical slide towards the end of the season coupled with his club not making the playoffs, the Professional Hockey Writers Association withdrew his name from contention.
Klingberg tallied 67 points (8 goals and 59 assists) while also playing in all 82 games of the season. The Dallas defenseman ranked first on the team in assists and was fourth in points behind the Stars’ top line.
The D-man’s 59 assists were first among the entire NHL blue line and his points total was just one shy of John Carlson’s for the NHL defenseman lead. Klingberg’s stats also beat all three Norris Trophy candidates (Hedman 63, Doughty 60, and Subban 59).
The fourth-year NHLer ranked just two seconds behind Subban in average time on ice at 24:04 and ranked first on the Dallas Stars’ roster.
Had the Stars made the playoffs, Klingberg would have almost certainly taken home the Norris Trophy. Even without making the playoffs, Klingberg still finished sixth in voting.
Lady Byng Trophy – Most Gentlemanly Player
Devin Shore couldn’t hurt a fly. Well, that’s not true, he plays a pretty hard-nosed and physical game, but he strikes me as the guy to lay a hit and then apologize right after.
The 23-year-old center enjoyed a pretty decent season in Dallas. Shore was seventh on the roster in points, and his 21 assists were top-five on the Stars squad. Shore was also one of five players to play in all 82 games of the season.
The third-year Stars forward only took seven minor penalties, totaling just 14 minutes spent in the sin bin all season. Those totals put him right in the realm of the NHL’s three finalists.
It’s pretty tough to beat Ryan O’Reilly’s mere one minor penalty all season, though.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – Dedication to Hockey
While he was the Dallas Stars’ Masterton Trophy nominee, Mattias Janmark never made the cut as one of the three finalists.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the player that exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Janmark missed all of 2016-17 with a rare knee issue called Osteochondritis dissecans, a pre-existing genetic condition that affects blood flow within the bones of the knee due to small cracks that form in the knee bone and cartilage.
The injury happened during training camp ahead of the 2016-17 season when the forward was skating and realized he couldn’t bend his knee. Surgery is almost always required, and usually, players don’t come back from it.
“It’s uncertain and concerning because I don’t know of any other pro hockey player that’s had this injury, nor this surgery. I don’t know of any other hockey player that’s had this injury and come back to play at that level,” the Stars’ head team physician told DallasStars.com at the time.
But Janmark did manage to come back and beat the odds. The sophomore Star came back and played in 81 games and set career-highs in goals (19), assists (15), and points (34), finishing with the fifth-most on the Dallas Stars roster.
There’s always a chance the issue can arise again, but Janmark is a trooper. He’ll be just fine.
Calder Trophy – Best Rookie
While, yes, technically in his second season as a Dallas Star, Gemel Smith only appeared in 17 games during the 2016-17 campaign, making him a rookie to the NHL’s standard, which states that a player that’s played in less than 25 games is still considered a rookie.
The 2012 fourth-round pick of the Stars appeared in 46 games this season. The center notched 11 points (six goals and five assists) during that span and brought some grit and youthful energy to the Dallas lineup.
The 24-year-old had a similar stat line to the Stars’ other rookie, Remi Elie, in about half the amount of games. Elie notched six goals and eight assists in 72 games.
With a more youth-focused head coach leading the charge next season, I would expect Smith to receive a little more ice time for his efforts and potentially become a mainstay in Big D. Especially if he keeps doing things like this.
Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award & King Clancy Trophy
Besides Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin is one of the big leaders of the team, both in the locker room and on the ice.
Since arriving in Dallas, Seguin has made it an effort to remove himself from his “bad boy” image that he had in Boston and instead rebuilt himself as a leader in the community en route to becoming one of the NHL’s elite forwards.
Seguin also has the honor of wearing an ‘A’ on his chest as one of the team’s captains. He’s finishing his fifth season in Dallas and is only getting better and better. Seguin set a career-high in goals (40), and his 78 points are his second-best total behind his first season in Big D (84 points).
Not only is the 26-year-old a leader on the ice and in the locker room, he’s a huge active leader in the community.
Seguin started a program called “Seguin’s Stars” upon arriving in Dallas in 2013. At every weekend home game of the season, the Star has donated a luxury suite for Dallas-area youth. Win or lose, after the games, Seguin does a meet and greet with the youngsters and takes pictures and signs autographs for the budding hockey fans.
On top of this, Seguin is very active in the Dallas Stars Foundation as well as The Boys and Girls Club of Dallas. He has helped to build a number of ball hockey courts in and around the Dallas community to grow the game of hockey in the non-traditional market.
Art Ross & Hart Trophy – Most Points & Most Valuable Player
Jamie Benn once again proved to be the unquestioned leader of the team this past season.
The captain suited up for all 82 games of the campaign and finished first on the team in points with 79, capturing the team’s Art Ross Trophy for recording the most points, besting Tyler Seguin by a single tally.
As for the Dallas Stars’ Hart Trophy, it belongs to Benn, and it has for the past few years. Season after season, Benn continues to prove why he’s the captain. He just does it all. He is the Stars’ Most Valuable Player.
With just under 20 minutes of average ice time per game, Benn ranked third in TOI of the Stars’ forward group. He was on the team’s first power-play unit, played shorthanded minutes, and could score goals. His 14.9-percent shot success was first on the team, and despite playing on the wing, the lefty’s 52.48 percent face-off success rate was third on the team of skaters that took at least 500 faceoffs.
Soon enough, we may just see Benn take home the franchise’s first Hart Trophy.