The NHL announced the finalists for their yearly awards earlier this week. Before we dive in, these NHL awards predictions will be for the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Vezina Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy, Frank J Selke Trophy, and the James Norris Memorial Trophy. The rest of the awards aren't so much based on stats, so it's more difficult to quantify who the winners should be. Along with the regular stats I will be using some basic advanced stats to support my picks. Being new to advanced stats, I found this article very useful in explaining how each is used. The main advanced stats I used are Corsi relative and Fenwick relative. Both are used to measure a player's ability to drive play relative to his teammates. The only difference is Fenwick doesn't count blocked shots while Corsi does. Now let's see who I think walks away with some hardware.
Calder Memorial Trophy
The first NHL Awards prediction will be who wins the Calder Trophy. The Calder trophy is awarded to the league’s top rookie. This year's finalists are Quinn Hughes defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, Cale Makar defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche and Dominik Kubalik forward for the Chicago Blackhawks. In 68 games Hughes has a stat line of 8-45-53 with a minus 10 rating. Maker only played in 57 games, but had an impressive start line of 12-38-50 with a plus 12 rating. Finally, in 68 games Kubalik had a stat line of 30-16-46 with a plus 2. While Kubalik had an impressive 30 goals, his CF% Rel was the lowest of the three at just 1.8. Being just an average play driver and lacking in assists hurt his case for the award, and relegate him to third place in the final vote.
That means it comes down to the two defensemen who both had outstanding seasons. While Hughes has the highest CF% Rel of the three at 6.0, he only scored three more points than Makar in 11 more games. Hughes also being a minus 10 hurts his case against Makar, who was a plus 12. The biggest point for Makar is he was actually the second-highest scorer on his team. With the Avalanche suffering injuries to several key players, Makar took on a larger offensive role, and showed his immense offensive skill. With his superior plus-minus and points per game, I'm giving the edge to Cale Makar as this year’s Calder winner.
The Vezina Trophy is awarded to the best goalie in the league. This year’s finalists are Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Vasilevskiy led the league with 35 wins, but his save percentage of .917 was only 16th and his goals against 2.56 was good for 12th. Even with his league-leading wins, his other middle of the road stats eliminate him from contention. That leaves just Rask and Hellebuyck as this year's real contenders.
Hellebuyck played this season behind a severely depleted defense and was still second in wins with 31. Connor finished with the 15th ranked goals-against average of 2.57, and a 7th ranked save percentage of .922. Rask led the league with a 2.12 goals-against average and was second in save percentage at .929. The one stat Rask is lacking is wins, finishing 7th with 26. However, Rask only played 41 games because of an injury. Hellebuyck’s lower stats might reflect the worse team in front of him, but one final stat tips the scales toward Rask. GSAA calculates how much better a top goalie’s performance was compared to league average. Rask led the way once again in this stat with a 22.51, edging out Hellebuyck who placed second at 22.40. This stat along with Rask’s overall performance just give him the edge over Hellebuyck as this year’s winner.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
The Selke Trophy is awarded to the forward that best excels in the defensive aspect of the game. This yeas's finalists are Patrice Bergeron from the Boston Bruins, Sean Couturier from the Philadelphia Flyers and Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues. Sean Couturier played in 69 games finishing with a stat line of 22-37-59 with a plus 21. Couturier also won 59.63% of his faceoffs, the highest of the three finalists but he also took the fewest with only 909. His 7.9 CF% Rel is also first among the finalists, but he also ranks last with just 40 takeaways and had the most giveaways with 36. By far the closest award race, but Couturier just doesn't contend with the other two finalists.
Patrice Bergeron played in 61 games, finishing with a stat line of 31-25-56 with a plus 23. O’Reilly in 71 games finished with a line of 12-49-61 and a plus 11. Bergeron holds the advantage in faceoff percentage winning 57.85%, compared to O'Reilly at 56.52%. O'Reilly also finishes far behind in CF% Rel with a 1.5 compared to Bergeron, who finished with a 6.6. Bergeron finished the season with 44 takeaways and 22 giveaways, while O'Reilly had 69 takeaways and 22 giveaways. Bergeron started 59.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone, while O’Reilly started only 48.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone. If you are awarding the player who was best on defense I think it goes to O'Reilly. In recent years the award has become the best two-way forward. If we take into account both offense and defense Bergeron is walking away with his fifth Selke Trophy.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
The Norris trophy is awarded to the league’s best defenseman. This year’s finalists are John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators. Victor Hedman had another great year playing in 66 games and putting up a line of 11-44-55 with a plus 27. Hedman was also tied for sixth in defensive point shares at 4.8. With 98 blocked shots, an average of 2:22 in short-handed time on ice per game and a CF% Rel of only .7 Hedman, unfortunately, finds himself in third place this season. This leaves Carlson and Josi to battle it out for who will win their first Norris.
John Carlson led all defenseman in points with 75 in just 69 games, scoring 15-60-75 with a plus 12. Josi was not far behind also in 69 games, putting up a stat line of 16-49-65 with a plus 22. Both defensemen blocked 108 shots. Carlson only averaged 1:30 in shorthanded time on ice, while Josi averaged an even two minutes per game. Looking at defensive point shares Josi takes the lead with a 4.8 compared to Carlson at 3.5. If we also look at each player’s CF% Rel Josi again has the advantage with a 3.8 compared to Carlson at just .3. What really puts Josi in the lead is he put up these numbers while missing his regular defense partner for 20 games. Taking all of those stats into account, and not just who had the most points, I see Josi winning his first Norris Trophy.
Hart Trophy/ Ted Lindsay Award
The final two NHL Awards Predictions will be for the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award. Both of these awards are for the most valuable player, the difference being the Ted Lindsay is voted on by the players. The finalists for both awards are Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers. Leon Draisaitl led the league in scoring by a wide margin, putting up a stat line of 43-67-110 with a minus 7 in 71 games. While normally that would win him more than just an Art Ross, I don't think he takes either award. Firstly because he plays with the best player in the league Connor McDavid, who scored 97 points in 64 games. Another detracting factor is 40% of Draisaitl’s points came on the power play. In contrast, the other finalists only scored just over 33% and 25% of their points on the power play. Finally, his Fenwick% Relative was only .3.
Nathan MacKinnon I think walks away with the Hart Trophy. With a stat line of 35-58-93 and a plus 13 in 69 games, Mackinnon was having a fantastic season. Take into account both of his linemates missed significant time with injury and his numbers really jump off the page. The second-highest scorer on the Avs was actually Cale Makar with 50 points. The next highest forward was Burakovsky with 45 points. With an FF% Rel of 4.8 MacKinnon carried Colorado to the second-best record in the West.
Ted Lindsay Award
That leaves the last finalist Artemi Panarin as the winner of the Ted Lindsay award. This is the league MVP chosen by the players. In 69 games Panarin had a stat line of 32-63-95 with a plus 36. Adding to that impressive line his FF% Rel was a 7.5, by far the best of the three finalists. While Panarin only finished 20 points higher than the next Ranger he was still the main play driver of that team. He almost led them from the second pick last summer to a playoff spot. This was his first year with the team after signing an over $11.6 Million per year contract. I think the players understand the pressure that brings to perform, and they will choose him as the league’s other MVP.
NHL Awards Predictions Summary
So there are my NHL Awards predictions. Please feel free to share your NHL Awards Predictions and tell me what you think I got wrong. Just to recap Makar takes the Calder. Rask wins his second Vezina Trophy. Bergeron wins his fifth Selke. Josi takes his first Norris Trophy. Panarin takes the player’s vote and wins the Ted Lindsay. Finally, MacKinnon wins the Hart Trophy as league MVP. With hockey games now less than a week away keep checking back for all the latest. Stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.