With the season more than halfway over, it’s time to predict (and argue about) who will take home awards as the NHL’s top players and management personnel.
Last year, yours truly was able to predict 10 out of the 13 winners, but I’m not feeling so confident this year.
Even though it’s a shortened season, it still feels like so much needs to be determined before front-runners can emerge for each trophy.
Without further ado, here are your winners for 2021 (I think):
The Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy: Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Although Matthews is currently tied for the goal scoring lead with Connor McDavid, Matthews has played five fewer games than the Oilers superstar and shoots the puck at a slightly higher rate this season.
Runner-up: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
The Art Ross Trophy: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
McDavid might miss out on the Rocket Richard Trophy, but he’s almost certainly going to score the most points out of any player this year and earn the Art Ross Trophy.
McDavid is already 10 points up on teammate Leon Draisaitl, and shows no signs of slowing down his complete dominance of the NHL’s North Division in spite of Edmonton’s slow start.
Runner-up: Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers)
The William Jennings Trophy: Philipp Grubauer and Hunter Miska (Colorado Avalanche)
In all honesty, this award should only go to Grubauer, as he has played 25 of Colorado’s 29 games thus far, as projected back-up Pavel Francouz has yet to play this season.
However, the award is always given to the two goalies whose team allows the least amount of goals in a season.
So far, Grubauer has been awesome this season. Case in point: he’s only allowed 3 goals in his last 6 games. Also, the Avs defense is the best in the league at suppressing shots at the moment, only allowing 24.9 shots against per game.
I was tempted to put the Bruins in here, but their injury problems on the back-end cannot be ignored.
Runner-up: Tuukka Rask / Jaroslav Halak (Boston Bruins)
The President’s Trophy: Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa once again seems unbeatable, sitting at the top of the league standings, and them playing in a questionable division with maybe two other quality teams doesn’t hurt either.
What does hurt the rest of the league, however, is that Nikita Kucherov looks like he’ll be back in the lineup for the Bolts come playoff time.
Runner-up: Vegas Golden Knights
The Vezina Trophy: Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas Golden Knights)
The NHL Awards voting committee often seems to favor the underdogs when selecting its winners, and there may not have been a bigger underdog than Fleury to start this season.
After being replaced as Vegas’ starter late last season by Robin Lehner, it looked like Fluery’s days in Vegas, and perhaps the NHL, were numbered.
However, an injury to Lehner early this season opened the door for the “Flower” to once again bloom in the spotlight.
Fleury has outstanding numbers this year, posting a 1.93 GAA, .931 SV%, 4 shutouts, and 16 wins.
Whether or not his agent will Photoshop him being impaled by the trophy is up in the air, however...
Runner-up: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The Lady Byng Trophy: Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Last season, I said Matthews would be the runner up for this trophy, and people in the comments section couldn’t have agreed less.
Matthews ended up being the runner-up last season, but he will win this season. Matthews seldom takes penalties and rarely argues with the officials over calls.
Not to mention he plays in the center of the hockey university (barf) Toronto, which never hurts his candidacy.
Runner-up: Patrick Kane
Editor’s note: If either of these two guys gets the trophy, given their off-ice incidents, toss the award in the garbage.
GM of the Year: Kyle Dubas (Toronto Maple Leafs)
This is a really hard category to choose a winner in, and in all actuality, a front-runner probably won’t be clear until after the trade deadline and the regular season conclude.
At this point though, Kyle Dubas would be the winner. The signings of T.J Brodie, Joe Thornton, and Wayne Simmonds have all pretty much worked out and sending Kasperi Kapanen to Pittsburgh for a 1st round pick and some salary cap space looks pretty good as well.
Runner-up: Marc Bergervin (Montreal Canadiens)
Jack Adams Award: Dean Evason (Minnesota Wild)
While a lot of experts are choosing Joel Quenneville for the great job he’s done in Florida this year, Evason should win the award for the best coach in the NHL.
The reason: Minnesota has one of the worst teams ‘on paper’ in the NHL, yet they’re thriving under Evason.
When you coach a team whose 4 centers are Victor Rask, Ryan Hartman, Joel Erikkson Ek, and Nick Bjugstad, and your team currently sits in a playoff spot, you deserve an award.
Runner-up: Joel Quenneville (Florida Panthers)
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
The Selke is coming home to Bergeron where it belongs.
The league did its thing last year, giving the trophy someone else (even though Bergeron should have won), but this year, Bergeron will win for a record 5th time.
Bergeron is second best in the face-off circle, has ridiculous possession metrics (CF% 60.6 / FF% 61.9), averages just 2.8 goals against per 60 minutes, and he’s a key part of the NHL’s best penalty killing squad as well.
The thing is, there’s a lot of talk of Aleksander Barkov winning this year and no doubt he’s a great two-way player.
But if you breakdown the defensive stats, you’ll see he falls short of Bergeron.
However, as mentioned earlier, the NHL seems to often give these awards to underdogs, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Barkov goes home with this award.
Runner-up: Aleksander Barkov
The Calder Trophy: Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild)
There was a lot of hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov even before he played a game in the NHL, and thus far, he’s certainly lived up to it.
Kaprizov is becoming one of the most exciting players to watch every night, and has produced 25 points through his first 29 games.
Since Mats Zuccarello came back from injury, Kaprizov’s game has seemed to find a different level, one that should carry him all the way to a Calder Trophy victory.
Interestingly enough, one of Kaprizov’s biggest competitors for this award could come from teammate Kaapo Kahkonen, who has been a very pleasant surprise in net for the Wild.
Runner-up: Tim Stuetzle (Ottawa Senators)
The Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)
I would love to write in Charlie McAvoy’s name here, but the Norris Trophy will go to the league’s best defenseman: Victor Hedman (McAvoy will finish in the top 3 voting for this award though.)
Hedman is an absolute beast on defense. He showed this last playoffs, and has continued his stellar play all season along. Hedman leads all defensemen in scoring (6 goals and 26 assists), is a +15, and has been a force in his own end shutting down top-forward lines every night.
Jeff Petry has been a bright spot in Montreal and deserves some consideration for the Norris; however, his offensive numbers have started to come back to earth, and the fact that the Habs have been struggling of late does not help his chances.
Runner-up: Jeff Petry (3rd Charlie McAvoy)
Ted Lindsay Award: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
McDavid is still the most dominant offensive player in the league, and the players all know this.
Runner-up: Patrick Kane (pretty much a one-man team in Chicago right now)
Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
Yup, this guy again. Let’s take a look why:
- Tied for 1st in goals (21)
- 1st in assists (39)
- 1st in points (60)
- 1st in PP points (23)
- 2nd in shots
- 1st in scoring chances created
- And maybe most importantly the Oilers are tied for 1st in the North Division, almost entirely due to everything you see above you.
Runner-up: Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
There you have it, predictions for all 13 of the major NHL honors that are handed out after the end of the season. Do these predictions make sense to you? Will a Bruin win some hardware this season? Are the Lightning the best team this regular season? Is Connor McDavid really the league MVP? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.