Tag: NHL awards

Patrick Kane’s Case For The Hart Memorial Trophy

As many of you are aware, Patrick Kane is one if not the best U.S. born hockey player. He continues to tear the NHL apart year after year and as of now is on a 18-game point streak, totaling 40 points over this 18-point streak. Kane has 36 goals and 90 points in 59 games this season. Aside from his close to record setting point streak, close to 40-goal mark and on pace for 123 points this season. Kane has made Alex Debrincat a 30-goal scorer, Dylan Strome resurge his career and has helped Jonathan Toews get back his game this season. Along with rejuvenating the Blackhawks season in recent weeks and pushing them into playoff contention.

The Hart is a trophy that is awarded to the most valuable player to their team. I definitely can see why some people reading his may say Nikita Kucherov is the sure Hart Memorial Trophy winner this season. But I am here to disagree and would like to hear others view points. Kucherov is without a doubt one of the bets players in the NHL he has 29 goals, 70 assists and 99 points in 60 games this season on pace for well over 120 points, 90 assists and 40 goals but Kucherov does have a lot more help around him. Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos are pretty much pure goal scorers dishing them the puck for one-timers or dishing it off and letting them do the shooting is not always the hardest.

Take a look at what Kucherov did Monday night vs Columbus, aside from his second goal that was a very nice move under the defense’s stick for a tuck under the sprawling goaltender. Kucherov’s assist to Stamkos I think anyone in the NHL can make, same with Brayden Point’s goal, he stood there and made a one-touch pass to a streaking Point. I am not discrediting Kucherov. He puts himself in these positions he has a knack for scoring and unreal vision that allows him to anticipates plays and be one-step ahead of everyone else. Yeah, sure, most of his goals and assists are unreal but for example the power play assists one touch passing it to Hedman or Stamkos is not some kind of superstar caliber play.

With that said, Kane is hands down the Blackhawks most valuable player and most valuable player to HIS team this season. Kane creates so much open space, opens up the ice for everyone, draws 2-3 players to him 5 on 5, on the power play and is hands down the best passer in the NHL. His deception with the puck on the power play or even 5 on 5 is like no other. Along with his shooting ability, to stick handle 2-3 times, make it look like he is going to pass and quickly shoot low glove or blocker has beaten almost every NHL goaltender this season.

Kane is second in points with 90, nine behind Kucherov. 2nd in goals with 36, seven ahead of Kucherov. Tied 2nd in assists with 54, sixteen behind Kucherov. Second in the NHL in points per game (1.53) 0.12 behind Kucherov. Kane has 9 power play goals, making that twenty-seven 5-on-5 goals. Kucherov has 11 power play goals, leaving him with eighteen 5-on-5 goals. Kane leads Kucherov by nine 5-on-5 goals. Kane has 29 power play points compared to Kucherov’s 39 power play points. Therefore Kane has 61 even strength points, Kucherov has 60 even strength points. The two are tied with five game-winning goals. Kane has 240 shots compared to Kucherov’s 168 shots. Kane has a 15.0 percent shooting percentage compared to Kucherov’s 17.3 percent. Meanwhile Kane has shot the puck 72 times more than Kucherov there shooting percentage only varies by 2.3 percent. Kane is averaging 22:16 minutes per game vs Kucherov’s 19:30 minutes. Some would say Kane should be more productive with that much ice time but as a forward 22 minutes is nearly unheard of, Kane is one of the four NHL forwards who plays 22+ minutes a game. The Lightning have two other players within the top-10 in points the next Blackhawk among the “top” point scorers is Alex Debrincat with 60 points (T-30). Lightning’s Point (78) and Stamkos (72) the difference from Kucherov to the next point scorer is 21 and 27. While Kane to Debrincat the difference is 30 points. The next in line after Debrincat is Jonathan Toews with also 60 points.

Look I am not saying Kucherov is only good because of Stamkos and Point do not twist my words people or put words in my mouth. The guy is a generational talent and one of the best goal-scoring play-making forwards in the NHL but when it comes to the Hart Memorial, Patrick Kane needs to be a BIG candidate. Kane has been in the league for 11 years and when he has played 80+ games in a season he has produced 70+ points in five of those six seasons. He is a 7-time 20+ goal scorer, 4-time 30+ goal scorer and one of the most consistent and top difference makers in the league. At least give the conversation some thought!

NHL Hart Memorial Trophy Nominees

This is usually an award that goes to someone who makes the biggest impact to their team but is also one of the top point scorers in the league. Last years nominees were Taylor Hall Hart TrophyClaude Giroux, Taylor Hall and Nathan MacKinnon. Giroux bounced back big time in 2017-18 to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a playoff match up. Giroux tallied 102 points (34G, 68A) in 82 games after only scoring 58 points in 82 games during the 2016-17 campaign. Nathan MacKinnon played a major role in why the Avalanche went from being the worst team in the NHL in 2016-17 to being a playoff team last season. The 23-year-old tenured forward tallied 97 points in 74 games last season, if it were not for missing eight games this award may have been his last season. MacKinnon bounced back from 53 points in 82 games to 97 in 74 games last season. The winner Taylor Hall lead the underrated, unskilled, inexperienced New Jersey Devils team to a playoff spot for the first time in almost ten years. Hall shook up the NHL with his record setting point streak last season but more importantly led the Devils in every facet of the game. Hall had 93 points in 73 games, in just his second year on the team, Hall helped put the Devils back on the map.

This years nominees are different than last years, which is a good thing. It would be hard to not mention at least the top five considerations for this trophy. Based off what last years nominees did for their club last year and what the winner Taylor Hall did for the Devils last season, we can all realize as to why these players below are being nominated for one of the more prestigious NHL awards.

  1. Mikko Rantanen (18G, 43A, 59 points in 37 games) 
  2. Connor McDavid (19G, 33A, 52 points in 35 games)
  3. Nikta Kucherov (16G, 41A, 57 points in 37 games) 
  4. Johnny Gaudreau (16G, 32A, 48 points in 37 games)
  5. Mark Scheifele (22G, 27A, 49 points in 36 games)

Mikko Rantanen has been a freak of nature this year, he has been apart of almost every Colorado win, a major reason the Avalanche are back in a playoff spot right now and continues to do it night in and night out. Sure he has Nathan MacKinnon so his accreditation is a little less valuable. But Rantanen being at 1.56 points per game is incredible.

Johnny Gaudreau has single handily (with the help of Sean Monahan) turned this Flames team around if you ever watched a Flames game, Gaudreau is by far the most impactful player on the ice for Calgary, his ability to take control of the game, create separation and just constantly be involved in every play when he is out there shows his importance to Calgary.

Connor McDavid we all know his significance to Edmonton, he has no one around him besides Leon Draisaitl (they do not always play together) but McDavid has consistently been the one of the biggest reasons all year the Oilers are hanging and fighting for a playoff spot right now. Not to mention he plays upwards of 22 minutes a game, which is unheard of from a forward.

Mark Scheifele, the Jets have tools around him but Scheifele’s presence is definitely known when he is out there and not out there. He is always scoring big goals, plays the best two way game among most centers in the league and is not just a one-sided player. Aside from his leadership Scheifele is one of the most underrated forwards in the game today.

NHL Vezina trophy discussion; Frederik Anderson & Marc-Andre Fleury lead the way

The Vezina, probably one of the more forgotten trophies in the league and much like the Norris despite the goaltenders impact on a team whoever has the best statistics at the end of the regular season wins usually. Last years winner was Pekka Rinne, who posted 42 wins in 59 starts, a 2.31 goals against (GAA), .927 save percentage, allowed 134 goals against on 1,840 shots and posted 8 shutouts.

This top-four years candidates are as follows…

  1. Frederick Anderson: Yes the Leafs are good, sure it may not be difficult some nights for Anderson but he plays a huge role in why the Leafs are successful this year. Anderson has started in the fourth most games this year (24), has collected wins 16 of those 24 starts (16-8-0 record) posts a 2.50 goals against (1st among goalies with 20+ games started) has a .926 save percentage (1st among goalies with 20+ games started). Anderson sees a lot more time than most starters do, he is in almost every night for the Leafs and of the 30 games the Leafs have played Anderson has not played in six of them, nearly unheard of. He did the same thing last year just not as well, but this year he has come out hot and has not slowed down one bit. The Leafs starter certainly deserves Vezina credit.
  2. Marc Andre Fleury: It was a big discussion last year if Fleury should win it, although he started in fewer games he was a major reason the Golden Knights went as far as they did last year. Fleury had a unforgettable 2017-18 season and even with the Golden Knights starting out a little slow Fleury has still been the back bone to this teams success. Fleury has started in the most games among all goalies (28), has a 2.51 goals against (2nd among all goalies with 20+ starts) and .908 save percentage. Fleury’s save percentage is probably one of the reasons some may look the other way on him, but look at the minutes he is seeing. He has not started in just four Vegas games this season, has seen 5th most shots against and is still producing for Vegas, not mention he is first among all goalies in wins (17) and shutouts (5). Fleury continues this streak and does not miss time it will tough to leave him out of the Vezina talk this year.
  3. John Gibson: A goalie that does not get enough credit for what he does. The Ducks have Ryan Miller sure but Miller does not do what Gibson does. Gibson has started in 25 games this year, 3rd most among all goalies, has a 2.59 GAA, .925 save percentage and has seen the second most shots against this year (832). Gibson has played in all but 7 games for the Ducks and the reason Anaheim is where they are right now is in large part because of Gibson. If he stays healthy he needs to be a nominee at least. His playoff struggles concern some but Vezina is regular season production so that should not be an issue.
  4. Pekka Rinne: It would be tough not to mention last years Vezina winner in this discussion. Although Rinne missed sometime this year he still does have 19 games started not as many as the other three but even in those 19 games, Rinne has posted a 1.96 GAA, .930 save percentage (both lead the league among goalies), and he does have two shutouts in just 19 starts. Sure it is tough to say if Rinne deserves the same recognition as the other three. Even when he was not playing the Predators did fine but Rinne is still a top-tier goalie in the league as he is healthy now he will see a lot more time. He is probably a border line number four right now at this point in the season but come after the All-Star break when we re-address this conversation I would expect him to be within the top-three among Vezina talk.

The NHL Norris trophy race

The Norris trophy race can be discussed now correct? We are about 30 games into the year, the All-Star break is coming and this is a perfect time to talk about the current race. We have seen a good sample size of 30 some odd games and it is getting to that  point in the year where we need to talk about it.

The Norris trophy has been flooded with Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns over the last several years. This year it is different, which is great to see, and the most surprising of the players leading the Norris race right now is Thomas Cabot.

Thomas Chabot, the 21-year-old defenseman in Ottawa is taking this race by storm. Chabot is not just the only defenseman in Ottawa who can play both sides really but the reason he needs to seriously be considered because look what team he is on! Ottawa is a struggling team, bottom of the league and it is not like he has much talent with him. Especially on the blue line Chabot has Ben Harpur (?) Maxime Lajoie and Cody Ceci so the fact this kid has 8 goals, 25 assists and 33 points in 31 games is unbelievable, plus he has just 9 power play points the fewest of all the top Norris candidates. Chabot is second among defenseman in assists, first in points, 20th in time on ice if he continues this production come June we may see our Norris winner.

Next up is John Carlson, a defenseman who got snubbed last year, not even being considered for the Norris continues his tear. Coming off a Stanley Cup season and the best year in his career. Carlson has not slowed down. On the year Carlson has 5 goals and 25 assists, 30 points in 28 games with 14 power play points averaging 25 minutes per game on the ice. Carlson has Ovechkin, Kuznestov and a solid team around him to help him collect apples. Sure feeding Ovechkin is not hard but he does a lot more than just feed Ovechkin. He is the anchor on the Capitals back end, a clear number one defenseman on the team, in conversation as a top-10 defenseman in the league and not only plays offensively sound but defensively he is just as good. I hope at some point when he collects another 65+ point year he gets some recognition for it. Carlson tallied 68 points last season he has 30 through 28 games therefore he is on pace to exceed his last year total by a wide margin.

NHL Norris Trophy race 2018-19
Morgan Reilly is among the top Norris Trophy candidates with 32 points in 30 games this season.

Morgan Reilly, there is enormous pressure on Reilly the assistant captain, the need for a number one defenseman in Toronto, the fans pressure in Toronto is probably indescribable so for that fact alone. Reilly needs to be in the discussion. Reilly came out of the gate flying this year, he has slowed down a bit but that does not takeaway from the fact that he has 32 points in 30 games with 9 goals and 23 assists. Reilly second among all defenseman with 9 goals, 5th among all defenseman in assists, second in points and 5th with power play points (12). Reilly has been a pretty consistent defenseman in Toronto coming off a 52 point year, his best in his career, he is on pace to well exceed that. Reilly is not a house hold name at this point but if he continues down this road and does not win this year, he will eventually walk away from his NHL career with one Norris trophy.

Mark Giordano, another player who has put in his dues, his time in the NHL and has finally come in the discussion for the Norris. Giordano is more known for his defensively sound game, being a shutdown defenseman who makes a great first pass and step out the zone. As the Flames offense evolves and Giordano continues to step into a big leadership role and his game offensively has soared this year. Giordano has 20 points in 29 games, 3 goals and 26 assists on the year. He leads all defenseman in assists, 9th in power play points (10), 4th in plus/minus (+16) and a clear impact on the Flames success this year. Giordano may be known for his charity work and defensive play but he has stepped into a bigger role this year that has propelled him into the Norris talk.

Keith Yandle, a offensive-defenseman a clear Norris candidate and a HUGE part to the Panthers power play and offensive success. Yandle has 28 points in 28 games, 5 goals and 23 assists. He leads all defenseman in power play points with 19, tied for the lead in power play goals (4) and 5th among all defenseman in assists. Another defenseman who has put his time in and has been a consistent power play specialists as well as offensive force on the back end. Yandle has had some concerns about his defensive game but he plays a solid defensive game and even if he doesn’t his offense makes up for it. Yandle’s best year in his 13-year career came in 2010-2011 where he tallied 59 points (11G, 48A) he is also coming off a 56 point year in 2017-18 (8G, 48A) as of now Yandle is expected to exceed his best year if he continues on this pace he could end the year with 82 points, unlikely but Yandle can easily be a 60 point player this year.

Is there even a Calder trophy race?

We went from Matt Barzal, Brock Boeser, Clayton Keller, Yanni Gourde, Kyle Connor rookie of the year race in 2017-18 to a dominate, no discussion Elias Pettersson Calder race now. Sure, Barzal out scored the other rookies by 20+ points but at this point last year it was a race. Barzal was not a clear winner by December. Yet, here we are in December of 2018 and Elias Pettersson has 30 points in 26 games, a 1.15 point per game with 15 goals and 15 assists. The next rookie up is Colin White who has 19 points in 30 games, then Brady Tkachuk with 16 points in 20 games, Miro Heiskanen with 15 points in 30 games.

It is clear as day that Pettersson is a clear favorite and most likely going to win the Calder if all pans out well, he stays healthy and stays with Brock Boeser on that line. As of now Pettersson is projected to exceed Barzal’s point total last year (85). Pettersson is projected to total 94.3 points so 94 points. My prediction for Pettersson is that he totals the same as Barzal probably around 80-85 points. A 1.15 per game player is tough in this league to maintain for a full 82 game year, plus he is going to hit a plateau at some point, no? Either way the whole point of this article is to say, Elias Pettersson great job winning the Calder trophy.

Rasmus Dahlin named Rookie of the Month (November)

It is probably hard to forget about Dahlin but with the Sabres recent success there has not been a ton of buzz circulating around the first overall pick. With the Sabres 10-game win streak and top-five ranking in the NHL, we cannot forget about one of the reasons the Sabres have been so good this year. 

As we are remembered that although Dahlin is behind Elias Pettersson by 8 points for the rookie lead in points. Dahlin was recently crowned rookie of the month for November. In the month Dahlin managed one goal and nine assists in 15 games. Dahlin has not been a human highlight reel in the NHL like he was in international play last season but the rookie is a major reason the Sabres are 17-7-3 with 37 points tied for first with Tampa Bay. Just the sheer fact that at 18-years-old Dahlin can be an impactful player and play many roles on the Sabres blue line adds a ton of depth and versatility to the Sabres defense now. This sure won’t be the last time we hear Dahlin’s name in relation to the NHL acclamation’s/awards. Dahlin is tied for 23rd in the NHL among the point leaders for defenseman. 

Norris Trophy Finalist Discussion

Well, well, well would look at this here. The NHL once again snubbed players for the Norris trophy. Year after year this happens and this year they messed up BIG time.

This year’s finalists are Drew Doughty(LAK), Victor Hedman(TBL) and P.K. Subban (NSH)

Doughty ended the year with 10 goals, 50 assists, 60 points ranked 7th among defenseman in points, playing all 82 games also not to mention. 11th among defenseman in plus/minus with a +23, tied for 16th for power-play points with 20 points. Finally ranked 1st for the defenseman with 26:50 average time on ice.

Victor Hedman played 77 games this season ranked 5th among defenseman with 63 points, 17 goals and 46 assists, second among plus/minus with a +32, 5th for power-play points with 26, lastly 5th among defenseman for time on ice per game with 25:51.

P.K. Subban played 82 games this season, ranked 9th among defenseman with 16 goals and 43 assists, ranked 20th in plus/minus with a +18 rating, ranked 7th for power-play points with 25 and 21st for time ice per game with 24:07.

NHL Norris Trophy FinalistWhat is the fuss? Oh well, the fact John Carlson nor John Klingberg were finalists is the fuss. At least one of them for christ sake. If you look at the supporting cast of all these finalists how could they not perform to be the best in the league year in and year out? In L.A. you have Doughty playing alongside Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, the late addition of Dion Phaneuf, Derek Forbort(not terrible, had 18 points this season), Christian Folin(again not bad had 13 points in 65 games). Either way, the Kings have four very solid defenseman that supplements Doughty quite well. Yes, he is the driving factor in L.A. and keeps the ship afloat but it does not hurt when you have two defensemen next to you that produce and can line up with other top forwards in the league. Now the Lighting and Victor Hedman, I mean cmon, the guy had Kucherov, Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, Point, Gourde, Killron, Miller up front to give the puck to can’t be too hard to get assists. And again yes Hedman is unbelievable without a doubt I am not saying he does not deserve it, but there are other guys that could have possibly been nominated. On top of playing with Ryan McDonagh later in the year and Mikhail Sergachev also, Anton Stralman is no slump and as much as you want to think it but Dan Girardi is a solid defenseman in that system Tampa plays. Do we even need to discuss PK Subban here, the Predators are absolute powerhouses of the league and were all year. On top of having one the best top nine in the NHL. Subban then played alongside the best d-core in the NHL. With Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi(top-10 defenseman), Ryan Ellis, Alexi Emelin, Yannick Weber, literally a backend that is LOADED. Subban played great, and I love him but don’t think he is worthy of this nomination though.

Why John Carlson or John Klingberg? OK, well you look at Washington’s back end last year with Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner all season plus Kevin Shattenkirk for 19 games, the Capitals then had Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Dimitry Orlov a very reliable back end. Take away Karl Alzner a guy who ate major minutes for them and played a HUGE role on that back end in most if not all big situations. Then Nate Schmidt who had 17 points in 60 games last year but his time in Washington was usually a consist 15-20 points. Then add in Shattenkirk for 19 games who took Carlson’s job on the power play when he came to D.C. so Carlson’s production was obviously bound to drop. Well, now you start the year, with Taylor Chorney, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Micahel Kempny with Carlson, then add a 31-year-old Niskanen, and 37-year-old Orpik, on top of a very inexperienced Orlov who coming into the year had only two full years in the league under his belt and coming off a career year.

NHL Norris Trophy Finalist
NHL Norris Trophy Finalist discussion

Carlson was basically asked to run the power play, ok increased power play production by 16 points, average 2.5 more minutes from last season without taking on more shifts. Played the most minutes among the Capitals defense by two minutes, a close second was Niskanen. And even though Carlson was not in the top 10 for time on ice per game he still produced the most points for a defenseman outscoring all defenseman besides Klingberg or Hedman by either 4-5 points. Not to mention he was not on the Lightning an Atlantic powerhouse or the Predators an NHL powerhouse. I am not discrediting any of these finalists but the numbers are clear, yes Carlson was on the Capitals and they won the Metropolitan but by no means were they a powerhouse of the NHL. They went through a lot of roster changes and asked some guys to step up, i.e. Carlson and look what he did. Went from 37 points in 72 games to 68 in 82 games. Carlson led all defenseman in points, ranked 2nd for power play points(32), 4th among assists and tied 8th for goals(15).

NHL Norris Trophy Finalist
NHL Norris Trophy Talk

Case for John Klingberg now, this one is very obvious. This guy was expected to play a major role after Dallas had a terrible season in 2016-17 and added Alex Radulov to supplement Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Also, Ben Bishop to give them a reliable starter. Dallas expected Klingberg to turn it around especially since he had 49 points in 2016-17 after producing 58 in 2015-16, therefore a lot of pressure was on Klingberg and the Stars had sights on the playoffs and more. Although they missed the playoffs by a few points due to Ben Bishop and other reasons, the Stars still had a better season this year than 2016-17. As well did Klingberg, who produced 67 points an 18 point increase from last season. Plus, who did this guy even have alongside him? Marc Methot who missed the whole season basically. Esa Lindell a young defenseman who produced well actually, Dan Hamhuis, who yes is a solid defenseman. Perhaps Stephen Johns or Greg Pateryn. Ok, so Klingberg had one or two defensemen who could supplement him and play alongside him to his kind of level and or capability. Klingberg ranked top four among his team in points and only trailed Radulov by 5 points. Klingberg not only ranked among the top for this team but also was 2nd among all defenseman in points, first in assists, tied 40th for goals, 14th for power-play points with 23 and 22nd for time on ice per game.

It seems like this happens too often it seems like Doughty and Hedman are literally just shoe-ins at this point. Switch it up, recongize some other players, the thor looking guy will sell tickets and get fans but give me a break. Yeah Doughty and his toothless smile and snarky attitude will get attention but the dedicated and actual hockey fans want to see something get called right here. Already ruining the playoffs with all these suspensions.