The horribly awkward mix of corny speeches, bad jokes, and eyeball-gauging hosts that is the NHL Awards Show is nearly upon us. More than any other year though, each of the major awards seems to have some level of debate to it. Some people still aren’t sold that a goaltender can win the Hart Trophy (given to the league’s most valuable player), and the Norris Trophy conversation is as up in the air as any. Here are the names that should end any debate:
Hart Trophy: Carey Price
Let’s get right after it. Carey Price not only was both the best and most valuable player in the National Hockey League this year, plain and simple. The Montreal Canadiens were egregiously bad at both defending their own zone and scoring in the other zone. Put it this way: the Canadiens averaged a paltry 2.61 goals per game. Price’s goals against average was 1.96, showing how razor thin his margin for error was while literally making the difference on his own. There’s little doubt that Montreal wouldn’t have even made the playoffs, let alone win the division without the superhuman play of Price.
Norris Trophy: P.K Subban
On a team with an essentially non-existent power play, Subban still managed to put up 15 goals and 45 assists.He would have easily hit 70 points if the Canadiens had anything resembling an NHL-level man advantage. He carried his team whenever he was on the ice with an impressive 5.72 Corsi Rel%.
For the sake of comparison, both Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson had 1.84 and 3.97 percentages respectively, indicating that their impacts on their teams were appreciably lower. To boot, Subban achieved his excellent even strength play while starting only half of his shifts in the offensive zone, whereas Doughty and Karlsson both had over half of their zone starts there. Subban was the most complete defenseman this season: an offensive catalyst and a game manager at even strength.
Vezina Trophy: Carey Price
If it weren’t for the pesky 10 shutouts of Marc-Andre Fleury, Price would have led all four of the major statistical categories for goaltenders. A line of 44 wins, a .933(!!!) save percentage, a 1.96 goals against average, and nine shutouts is simply godly. GAA is a flawed statistic given how intrinsically tied it is to team play. However, Price’s average being less than two is amazing given how bad his team was at clearing its own zone. Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne had their moments during the season, but neither were anywhere close to Price’s level of dominance.
Calder Trophy: Johnny Gaudreau
A guy has to be good if they call him “Johnny Hockey” right? Fresh out of college hockey, Gaudreau electrified the league with his dazzling array of speed, skill, and tenacity. Generously listed at five foot nine, 150 pounds, the former Boston College skater helped carry a moribund Calgary squad back into the playoffs in the absence of defensive anchor Mark Giordano.
On the topic of nicknames, they might have to call Gaudreau “Patrick Kane-Lite” soon, as their games are eerily similar. There’s lots of talk about Ekblad playing a difficult position at a young age, but the cold hard reality is that the Florida Panthers missed the post-season. Gaudreau’s contributions directly correlated to a playoff berth for the Flames, something that needs to be rewarded.
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron
First, a telling stat: Bergeron started a paltry 43 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, while both Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar were well over 50 percent. Toews in particular started 57.12 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, making one wonder if he’s even really being used as a defensive forward. Bergeron’s deployment screams that of a defense-first mentality, all while winning a whopping 60 percent of his faceoffs at even strength.
If those numbers weren’t sterling enough, another telling stat: Bergeron logged the best relative possession stats by a mile over both Toews and Kopitar. So with clearly unfavorable deployment for offense, Bergeron still manages to control the play by a wide margin when he’s on the ice. At that rate, the 55 points he notched is a bonus. Give the man an award already.
(All data provided by war-on-ice.com)