Double Bubble: 2020 NHL Awards

If COVID-19 has given us anything positive as a society, it’s that we won’t have to sit through yet another two-hour long NHL Awards’ show.

As much as I’d love to see another magician awkwardly try to perform magic tricks, the 30-minute rapid-fire set-up the league is going with before Game 2 of the Finals is a much better choice and should honestly just become the norm.

Over the past week or so, the NHL has been handing out some of the smaller trophies, so before jumping into the big five, let’s do a quick recap of what’s been handed out so far.

Art Ross Trophy: Leon Draisaitl (EDM)

  • An incredibly impressive season from the German forward, and that just adds to the hatred I’m going to get from Oilers’ fans when we get to my thoughts on the Hart trophy.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Bobby Ryan (OTT)

  • This award also kind of comes off as the “Who Went Through The Most Shit” award, but Bobby Ryan’s story is great regardless.

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Sean Couturier (PHI)

  • Couturier was hands down the best player nominated for the Selke. Ryan O’Reilly and Patrice Bergeron seem to have been nominated because of their past performances and reputations more so than actual merit (which isn’t to say they’re bad because god no both of those guys are still really good). He led the NHL in face-off winning percentage and finished third in defensive-zone face-off winning percentage. Deserved win. If we’re being brutally honest, Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli is likely a better defensive player than Couturier but his laurels will be rested in due time.

Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy (BOS)

  • I mean, sure. He coached the best team in the league, but there were other coaches who pulled off more impressive feats. Alain Vigneault’s season with the Flyers comes to mind

Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award: Lou Lamoriello (NYI)

  • Lamoriello made some smart moves, but were they better than what Julien BriseBois did in Tampa? He made one of the best teams in NHL history better.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Matt Dumba (MIN)

  • The correct choice.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon (COL)

  • 93 points and only 12 penalty minutes? Yep that’ll do it.

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award: Mark Giordano (CGY)

  • I’m not upset with this at all.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy: Alex Ovechkin (WSH) and David Pastrnak (BOS)

  • No healthy NHL star in history has been robbed of as many games as Ovechkin has, and he’s not getting younger. The push to catch Gretzky is on a timeline.

William M. Jennings Trophy: Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak (BOS)

Now onto the major awards

Calder Trophy

Nominees: Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik

Who Will Win: Cale Makar

Who Should Win: Cale Makar

Hughes turned on the jets to close the regular season, but Makar’s overall play throughout the full (shortened) season just edges him out.

Makar had more even-strength points and goals in 11 less games. He was on the ice for more goals-for than Hughes. Makar also played on the powerplay with Nathan frickin’ MacKinnon so I mean, is he as good as Hughes was if the roles were switched? Tough to say, but this is the closest Calder race I’ve seen in a while.

To be honest, Adam Fox could have, and probably should have, easily earned a nomination, but three defencemen nominated for the Calder? Unthinkable.

Norris Trophy

Nominees: John Carlson, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman

Who Will Win: John Carlson

Who Should Win: Roman Josi

Carlson’s offensive prowess this season is the type of play that Norris trophy voters just drool over, but Josi was by far the superior defender, and his offensive stats weren’t even that far behind Carlson, 65 to 75.

Josi was third in defencemen in TOI, spent more time on the PK than Carlson (2:00 vs 1:29), only had one less even-strength goal, and a significantly better Defensive Point Shares (4.8 for Josi compared to 3.5 for Carlson)

I saw a couple articles talking about how it was “Carlson’s time” which is always a terrible way to hand out awards. Josi was the better defenceman. That includes both ends of the ice, and defensively, Carlson had some major issues.

Vezina Trophy

Nominees: Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy

Who Will Win: Connor Hellebuyck

Who Should Win: Connor Hellebuyck

If I had my way, Hellebuyck would win the Hart for dragging the Winnipeg Jets to the post-season, even if it was just the qualifying round. Because that Jets defence was real brutal, and literally any other goalie would have collapsed.

Games played? Tied for the league-lead with 58.

Wins? Second in the league while backstopping one of the worst teams in the league.

Shutouts? Led the league with 6, while, again, backstopping one of the worst teams in the league.

Shots? Led the league in shots faced and saves while maintaining a .922 SV% and 2.57 GAA.

When The Athletic did their picks for the awards in July, 93 per cent of their writers chose Hellebuyck. To see anyone else be handed this trophy would be an atrocity that likes of which the hockey world hasn’t seen since (insert last bad thing to happen to your favourite team.)

Ted Lindsay Award

Nominees: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

Who Will Win: Nathan MacKinnon

Who Should Win: Artemi Panarin

It’s always difficult to predict who the players will pick for most outstanding players, but hockey players usually go with the safe choice at every single turn, so MacKinnon will likely be handed this trophy.

MacKinnon’s garnered a ton of respect around the league, so it makes sense, but Artemi Panarin played with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast and put up 95 points. Players should recognize that accomplishment.

Do I need to say anything else? Well maybe a little bit more…

Hart Trophy

Nominees: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

Who Will Win: Leon Draisaitl

Who Should Win: Artemi Panarin

Draisaitl’s 110 points in 71 games is going to be enough for the voters to hand him this award, but with him playing the entire first half, and all his powerplay time, with Connor McDavid, I struggle to view Draisaitl as even the most valuable player on his own team.

Nathan MacKinnon was incredible, and in any other year, this trophy should be his. But he was playing with Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, with Makar on the backend. His supporting roster was extremely strong.

Once again, Panarin scored 95 points while playing with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast. Ryan Strome. And. Jesper Fast. That alone justifies the massive contract the Rangers gave him in the offseason.

My pick simply comes down to the fact that New York is basically Detroit without Panarin.

So those are my picks. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you think I should take a long walk off a short pier? Let me know on Twitter @Matthew_Coyte