In this edition of “Brother Banter”, Adam and Rossy give their predictions for all of the major end of season awards – starting with the NHL.
Hart Trophy – MVP
Rossy: Picking a Most Valuable Player in a season where so many players have excelled. Patrick Kane has by-and-large been the best player in the NHL, points wise, this season – but does that mean he has been the most valuable? Sidney Crosby has propelled the Penguins into a playoff spot, one that was not always guaranteed – but was it enough to overcome his slow start? Braden Holtby will likely end up with the record for most wins in a season by a goalie – but Carey Price was named MVP last season, and it is rare for a goalie to win it just once, let alone two years in a row. Jamie Benn and Erik Karlsson will also get some votes, and will have a chance at bringing home the trophy.
So, who is my pick? I have to go with Kane. Kane has been on a different level than the rest of the league this season, putting up 103 points through 81 games, good for a 1.27 ppg average. In the current NHL, where last season the leading point-getter totalled 87 points, that rate is amazing. Not only has Kane amassed a ridiculous amount of points, but he has also managed to bring along his line-mates with him. Artemi Panarin, a generally unknown rookie coming into this season, has put up gaudy numbers alongside Kane. When a player not only leads the NHL in scoring, but also makes others better, there can be no argument that he is the MVP, and deserving of the Hart Trophy.
Winner: Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
Runner up: Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Adam: I’m not sure how anyone could make a good argument against Kane for the Hart this year, and so my pick is also the Mullet Man himself. He’s continued to amaze this season and just when you think he’s going to slow down, he gets on another streak. Watching him play reminds me of watching Kyrie Irving play basketball. They both have such grace with their every move and are extremely hard to stop in tight. There’s no doubt he wins the Hart this year, and with the way Chicago is playing this year – he could win the Conn Smythe as well.
My runner up, and honestly not by much, is Jamie Benn. Along with the now injured Tyler Seguin, Benn has taken the Stars to the top of the Western Conference and has been a huge part in changing the culture in Dallas. The days of Mike Modano and Ed Belfour are long gone – it’s Benn’s turn to shine in the “Big D”. He’s currently second in points, with 41 goals and 47 assists, combining for a grand total of 88 points.
Winner: Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
Runner up: Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars
Norris Trophy – NHL’s Best Defenceman
Rossy: Erik Karlsson has been a scoring machine this season. Putting up a point per game, with 81 through 81 games, Karlsson is 5th in scoring, a particularly impressive feat for a defenceman. Not only does he produce offensively, but he has also been solid on the defensive side of the ice. Karlsson averages 29 minutes per game, and is the backbone of an otherwise not impressive blue line for the Senators. Karlsson’s offensive numbers are just enough to surpass Drew Doughty for the award. Doughty doesn’t have the prolific offensive numbers that Karlsson has, but his superb defence keeps him in the running. A dark-horse candidate could be Roman Josi or Kris Letang, but I fully expect Karlsson to bring home the Norris.
Winner: Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators
Runner up: Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings
Adam: My pick for the Norris this year is none other than the magnificent Brent Burns. Now, before you go and tell me I’m wrong, Rossy, just hear me out for a second. The guy is currently second in points amongst all defensemen in the NHL with a whopping 74 points, 27 of which are goals. As well, his Sharks have made a strong push in the second half of the season and clinched a playoff birth. With how Burns and Joe Thornton have been playing lately and the recently acquired goalie depth, it’s actually possible that they win a round or two in the playoffs this spring. Without Burns, I truly don’t think any of this would have been possible and it is for that very reason that he is my Norris winner. I’m really not sure how you can argue that he WASN’T the best defensemen in the NHL this season.
Drew Doughty is another guy who’s had a great year for the L.A Kings, and to my disbelief has yet to win a Norris Trophy. Well, sorry Drew – because this year’s not your year either pal. My runner up is Pittsburgh Penguins star defensemen, Kris Letang. Flying under the radar somewhat this season, Letang has actually had a very good season for the playoff-bound ‘Pens. In 71 games he’s put up 67 points, and if it wasn’t for a mid-season injury I think he would have put up near point-per-game numbers and win the Norris. The crop of elite defensemen in the NHL seems to be growing, and it makes for some great hockey and competition.
Winner: Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks
Runner up: Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Vezina Trophy – NHL’s Best Goaltender
Rossy: As you can guess from my pick for runner up for the Hart Trophy, my pick for the Vezina is none other than Braden Holtby. Holtby is also tied at 47 wins with Marty Brodeur for the most wins in a season for a goaltender. Holtby also ranks fourth in goals-against average, and seventh in save percentage, with a mark 2.17 former, and .923 for the latter. Holtby looks every part of a goalie that is capable of carrying a team through a playoff series.
As for the runner up, it is looking like a two-man battle between Corey Schneider and Ben Bishop. Both have a chance of winning the Vezina, as they are both in the top five of goals against average and save percentage. Bishop actually leads both of those categories, which is why he is my runner up.
Winner: Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Runner up: Ben Bishop, G, Tampa Bay Lightning
Adam: Holtby is obviously a great pick for the Vezina this year, but this is Brother Banter after all, and I’m tired of agreeing with you so here we go. My pick for the Vezina this year goes to Roberto Luongo. He’s propelled the Panthers into a playoff spot and has posted a record of 34-19-6 while making a few highlight reel saves along the way. While he’s definitely entering the later years of his career, the youth of the Florida Panthers has made him play young again. He’s making athletic, splits saves and looks to have a new found energy. And yes, he still has the same humour on Twitter.
My runner up is Jonathan Quick of the L.A Kings. The guy is a Vezina candidate year after year, and if he’s hot around the end of the season and going into the playoffs – good luck stopping the Kings from winning yet another Cup. He’s currently 40-23-4 with 5 shutouts. The Kings are looking dangerous going into the postseason, and Quick has played a huge role in that.
Winner: Roberto Luongo, G, Florida Panthers
Runner up: Jonathan Quick, G, L.A Kings
Jack Adams Award – Best Coach
Rossy: In my opinion, this is a two-man race. There is Gerard Gallant, the second-year Panthers coach, and there is Trotz, who is also in his second year as coach of the Capitals. Gallant has taken a deep – but not spectacularly talented – lineup in Florida and turned them into one of the favourites to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Flordia has recently clinched the Atlantic Division title, and will be a threat come playoff time due to Gallant’s ability to get the most out of his team. Florida plays a well rounded game, coupling scoring throughout the lineup with a great attention to detail in the defensive zone. The Panthers are top-10 in both goals for and against, and a lot of that is due to Gallant’s emphasis on responsible, 200 foot game.
Barry Trotz has the advantage of having a team with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and a whole roster of great players. One of the many reasons to support Trotz for the Jack Adams award is his ability to make these dynamic offensive players be responsible defensively. Prior to Trotz taking over behind the bench, the Capitals struggled to play defensively. Now, they rank first in goals against. Couple that with being the 2nd highest scoring team in the NHL, and you have a formula for success. I give Trotz the nod for this award, but it could go either way. A dark-horse contender is Peter DeBoer of the San Jose Sharks.
Winner: Barry Trotz, Washington Capitlas
Runner up: Gerrard Gallant, Florida Panthers
Adam: My pick for the Jack Adams Trophy this year goes to Gerrard Gallant. Yeah, Trotz and his Capitals are at the top of the East and strong Cup contenders, but they have been pretty good for the last few years. Florida on the other hand, has been awful. Two years ago, we saw them pick Aaron Ekblad and last year they failed to make the playoffs. The Panthers, as of today, sit third in the East and look poised to hopefully win a round or two in the coming postseason. In my opinion, Gallant deserves the Jack Adams award purely based on the fact that the Panthers have improved the most (at least in my opinion).
Trotz is my runner up, but you already covered him pretty thoroughly so I am going to talk about my third place finisher – Lindy Ruff. I really don’t understand why his name hasn’t been popping up in the Jack Adams conversations. Dallas is first in the East and have been dominant all year. They have a strong team full of many difficult personalities, yet Ruff has done an exceptional job of getting everyone to behave. Tyler Seguin was traded away from Boston after winning a Cup because of his personality and his off-ice antics. In Dallas under Ruff, there has been little to no trouble with Seguin at all. He’s a respected figure in the NHL, and especially in the Canadian hockey world, and while I don’t think he should win the award, I truly do think he should at least be in the conversation.
Winner: Gerrard Gallant, Florida Panthers
Runner up: Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals
Calder Trophy – Best Rookie:
Rossy: My pick may come as a surprise to some. But if you have been watching and following the NHL intently this season, it shouldn’t be. Shayne Gostisbehere, or “Ghost”, has put up extremely rare numbers for a rookie NHL defensman, let alone a 78th overall pick. Ghost has more points in his rookie season than the great Bobby Orr had in his. Gostisbehere’s 44 points, as of this writing, is good enough to be in a tie for 6th in rookie scoring, an amazing feat for a defensman. Not only is Ghost lighting it up on the offensive end, but he is doing it while still playing a top role on defense. Ghost has took the league by storm during his 15 game scoring streak – longest ever in the NHL by a rookie defensman – and has never looked back.
My runner up is the player a lot of people have taking home the award, Artemi Panarin. He has been playing amazing hockey all season long, and has put up massive numbers. I have Ghost winning over him because of the fact Panarin gets the huge advantage of playing with Patrick Kane, who has likely inflated the rookie’s numbers.
Winner: Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers
Runner up: Artemi Panarin, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
Adam: Going into this season, I thought for sure at season’s end I would be predicting Connor McDavid to win Rookie of the Year – but here I am, telling you readers that Chicago’s Artemi Panarin will indeed win. He’s come out of nowhere and has put up some crazy numbers (28G, 46A, 74P), and as of now is 11th in the whole NHL in points. Due to his fantastic rookie season, he has the potential to be awarded with a nice raise for next year. If he wins the Calder, his salary for next season will be just a bit over $2 million. The ‘Hawks must have just thrown that bonus clause into the contract thinking this guy would probably barely play, let alone rack up 70+ points. He’s proven them, and the whole NHL wrong, and has taken the league by storm this season.
I do feel a little bad for McDavid. I think he could have had a historic rookie season, but it was unfortunately interrupted for a few months due to injury. In the end, McDavid will have the better career of the two, but you can’t give him the award when Panarin has done it all year long on a Cup contending team. Yeah, McDavid has put up some fantastic numbers while he’s been in the lineup, he just hasn’t played enough to deserve to take it away from Panarin.
Winner: Artemi Panarin, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
Runner up: Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers