NHL Awards: My Picks

This should be fun.

You know the PHWA? The Pro Hockey Writers Association? That group of guys who vote on the annual NHL Awards? Well I’m not one of those guys. I’m just a blogger. BUT I HAVE AN OPINION, DAMN IT!

This year, we have the PHBA. That’s right – the Pro Hockey Bloggers Association. They were gracious enough to include us here at TheLeafsNation.com and I was the one who voted for this site.

Here’s how I voted for every award and my justification for those votes. Feel free to call me a big idiot.


Sidney Crosby Sidney Crosby
Claude Giroux Ryan Getzlaf
Jonathan Toews Claude Giroux
Ben Bishop Semyon Varlamov
Anze Kopitar Tyler Seguin

Almost all of us thought Sidney Crosby was the NHL’s most valuable player this season. There are still those out there who can’t appreciate Crosby because he’s a “whiner” or whatever and those people are silly geese. If you don’t like him for whatever reason then that’s fine, but you’ve got to appreciate his mastery of the game. The guy’s got six assists in six playoff games so far and everybody’s dumping on him for not having a goal yet. Crosby is such a good player that he is criticized for only being great instead of magnificent like we’re used to seeing. He’s the league’s MVP. No doubt about it.

Ryan Getzlaf was my big omission from this list. It’s honestly nothing against Getzlaf. He’s a truly amazing player who had a truly amazing season. His dynamic duo status with Corey Perry made me shy away from him a bit. I applaud the PHBA for giving Tyler Seguin so many votes. That kid had a season!

Then there’s Ben Bishop…

I chose Bishop with my “goalie who completely saved his team’s season” vote. The PHBA chose Varlamov instead. You know what? Fair enough. That’s a good pick. I like Bishop for the same reason everyone else likes Varlamov: His team would be so utterly and remarkably screwed without him. Keep in mind, I sent these votes in before Anders Lindback’s Benny Hill playoff series against the Habs. The Lightning live and die with Bishop. The Avalanche live and die with Varlamov. Both picks make sense.

I wanted a cool action shot but then thought “No, no. This is much better.”


Ryan O’Reilly Ryan O’Reilly
Frans Nielsen Tyler Seguin
Matt Duchene Martin St. Louis
Marcus Johansson Marcus Johansson
Tyler Seguin Frans Nielsen

I had a hard time with this one. Here’s why…

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

What I gather from that is you’re almost handing out the “nicest guy” award and how the heck can I judge that? I’ve met Tyler Seguin in person about half a dozen times, spoken to Ryan O’Reilly on the phone twice, and Matt Duchene on the phone once. I barely know these guys as people.

Regardless, Ryan O’Reilly seemed to be the dead giveaway. He almost made it through the entire season without having a single penalty called on him. Honestly, I didn’t want to put Seguin in my top five because I thought I would catch a lot of flack for it. Turns out he’s the runner up. Good! He deserves it. He scored 37 goals, 47 assists, 84 points, and racked up just 18 penalty minutes. He finished fourth in NHL scoring with fewer than 20 PIM. You could easily argue he could’ve won the thing.

Not gonna lie… my omission of Martin St. Louis was a bit motivated by his trade request. I know, I know. “It’s a business decision, you jackass!” I know and you’re 100% right. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way at the time I was voting but the fact of the matter is the guy only had six PIM all season. Shouldn’t dwell too much on it though. This was Ryan O’Reilly’s to lose for a long time and he didn’t.


Tuukka Rask Tuukka Rask
Ben Bishop Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov Ben Bishop
Carey Price Carey Price
Jonathan Bernier Jonathan Bernier

I was pleasantly surprised to see my votes were almost identical with everyone else’s on this. Guys who play forward and defence have such a wide variety of duties. Are they a sniper? Two-way forward? Two-way defenceman? Stay at home? A goalie’s got one job: Stop that puck.

Tuukka Rask seemed like the obvious choice. His numbers were insanity and it’s likely we’re going to live every Leafs fan from 2006’s worst nightmare: Tuukka Rask is going to win the Vezina Trophy. Andrew Raycroft, by the way, spent last season in the Italian League and this season in Sweden where he posted a not-good .896 save percentage. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair…

…but hey! Look! Jonathan Bernier!

I didn’t even look at Bernier’s numbers before giving him at least the fifth place nod. He stood on his head, shoulders, knees, and toes and almost dragged this barf sandwich of a defensive team into the postseason. For that, a gold star for you, sir.


Patrice Bergeron Patrice Bergeron
Anze Kopitar Anze Kopitar
Jonathan Toews Jonathan Toews
Joe Pavelski David Backes
Sean Couturier David Krejci

On the podcast I joked that the Selke should just be renamed the “Bergeron, Kopitar, and Toews” award. Check it out! They’re one, two, and three.

Patrice Bergeron is absurd. You don’t need to know fancy stats to know how amazing he is, but when you do, you realize how cartoony he is on another level. Bergeron was on the ice for 1,157 shot attempts (Corsi) for and just 733 against for a league-leading 61.2 CF%. Anze Kopitar was third in that department and Jonathan Toews was seventh. These guys are suffocating when you’re heading their way and lethal when they’re heading your way. BOLD STATEMENT ALERT: They are very good hockey players.

Joe Pavelski and Sean Couturier seemed like worthy fits for the four and five slot. Pavelski had a great year offensively and Couturier really is developing into a ridiculous steal for the Philadelphia Flyers. I had to laugh at David Krejci’s nomination a bit. It’s not because I don’t think he deserves it. It’s because the Bruins could have had two Selke nominees. Again – life’s not fair.


Nathan MacKinnon Nathan MacKinnon
Jacob Trouba Ondrej Palat
Torey Krug Tyler Johnson
Ondrej Palat Torey Krug
Hampus Lindholm Olli Maatta

Now this one will require some explaining…

There were some grumblings on Twitter that only centres seem to be allowed to win the Selke. That’s a fair enough point. There are wingers out there worth considering (Hossa, Marchand, etc). With the Calder, almost every single year it seems to just be a sea of forwards.

I obviously disagreed this year.

My opinion: It’s harder to be impressive as a rookie defenceman than it is to be impressive as a rookie forward. 

That shouldn’t even be a controversial thing to say. Defencemen tend to take more time to develop and the mistakes they make are amplified by the fact they’re more likely to go in than their offensive counterparts. This year I think there were some truly exceptional rookie defenders.

Jacob Trouba was one of the few bright spots on the Winnipeg Jets this past season. He averaged 22:26 in ice time per game which beat almost every other rookie by a full minute. That’s a lot of ice for a guy who didn’t even turn 20 until almost March. He didn’t waste that ice either, scoring 10 goals and 29 points.

Torey Krug was a puck-crushin’ fool this season. Fourteen goals (six on the PP) and 40 points (19 on the PP). You can easily look at Krug and say “Well, he’s on the Bruins.” Fair enough, but the Bruins wouldn’t have been as monstrous as they were without this guy.

Then there’s Hampus Lindholm. Am I crazy? He played 78 games as a rookie defenceman on the league’s second-best regular season team. That’s hard to do. He scored 30 points as a rookie defenceman. That’s hard to do, too. Here’s my favourite: Hampus Lindholm was on the ice for more goals for at 5-on-5 than any other player in the entire NHL with 77. He’s going to be a great NHL defenceman for years to come, methinks.

“Why didn’t you pick Olli Maatta then?” Hey – he’s very good. He’d crack my top ten. Didn’t crack my top five.

My lack of nomination for Tyler Johnson isn’t a dig at him. If I could have voted him in for sixth place I would have. I chose one of Johnson and Palat for my top five and opted to go with Palat.

Really though, this was Nathan MacKinnon’s trophy to lose. The regular season showed it and the playoffs are proving it. MacKinnon scored 63 points this season. Here’s a list of players from between the 2005-06 season and this past season who scored 60 or more points in their rookie season:

  • Alex Ovechkin
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Brad Boyes
  • Evgeni Malkin
  • Paul Stastny
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Patrick Kane
  • Nicklas Backstrom
  • Jeff Skinner
  • Nathan MacKinnon
He’s uh… He’s pretty good.


Duncan Keith Duncan Keith
Alex Pietrangelo Zdeno Chara
Erik Karlsson Shea Weber
Zdeno Chara Alex Pietrangelo
Niklas Kronwall Erik Karlsson

And the “defenceman who gets a lot of points” trophy goes to…

Yep, I gave the nod to Mr. “Wakey wakey, Backes!” It was kinda hard not to. Keith put up 61 points in 79 games. Erik Karlsson put up 74 points in 82 games but it’s hard for me to read his full body of work. Karlsson had 1817 Corsi for. That’s 286 events more than the second place guy, who happened to be Keith. Karlsson was also on the ice for 324 more Corsi against than Keith was. I’ll take Karlsson on my team any day. He’s a 70+ point freak. I just feel that Keith’s combination of dominating offence and sound defence made him the right pick. 

Also hey, remember that time Atlanta selected Zack Bogosian one spot before Alex Pietrangelo?

My “off the board” pick was Niklas Kronwall. I was one of just three guys who even gave him a vote at all. One blogger had him at third while myself and one other blogger had him at fifth. Here’s the question I pose: Would the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs without Niklas Kronwall? Hell no. 

He had 49 points on a Red Wings defence core with a bunch of teammates who were either call-ups, rookies, or injured. With an average of 24:18 per game in ice time, Mike Babcock rode him like a pony. Obviously the Norris is very difficult to win so I can definitely see why he only received two other votes. I just couldn’t leave him out, though. I just couldn’t.


Mike Babcock Patrick Roy
Ken Hitchcock Mike Babcock
Jon Cooper Jon Cooper
Patrick Roy Claude Julien
Darryl Sutter Bruce Boudreau

“You show me a good coach and I’ll show you a good goalie.”

I completely understand why Patrick Roy was chosen. Maybe I should have had Roy higher, but I fully stand by my pick of Mike Babcock.

Patrick Roy coached an Avalanche team that finished first in the Central. He had an amazing goalie this season. Did he help make his goalie that amazing? That sounds very likely, sure.

Jon Cooper coached a Lightning team that finished second in the Atlantic. He had an amazing goalie. He also lost one of the top five players in the game for most of the season. He still had St. Louis, though.

Ken Hitchcock had the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien had the Boston Bruins. Darryl Sutter had the LA Kings. Bruce Boudreau had the Anaheim Ducks, who may be the weakest “on paper” team of the four I just mentioned, which is terrifying.

What the hell did Mike Babcock have?!?! 

Only two of the 35 players that suited up for the Red Wings this past season played in all 82 games: Drew Miller and Kyle Quincey. Daniel Alfredsson missed 14 games. Johan Franzen missed 28 games. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missed 37 games each.

Jimmy Howard battled some injuries himself and he wasn’t exactly magical in net (.910 SV%). Jonas Gustavsson wasn’t great either (.907 SV%) and Peter Mrazek only started six games.

How the hell did the Detroit make the playoffs?

The two easy answers are “Gustav Nyquist” and “the east sucks.” My answer is Mike Babcock.


Those were all of my votes for the NHL Awards. What do you think? Did I get it? Was I far off? Please let me know how stupid I am in the comment box below.

  • Smokin' Hoaken

    Eddie Lack doesn’t get a Calder vote? I would have him on the list, he had the highest workload of any rookie and had pretty good stats. I’m not saying he deserves to win it over Mackinnon but he should at least get a vote.



  • Cam Thornton

    I totally agree with almost all of your picks, but the one I’d have to disagree with was Maatta in the Calder race. No, I didn’t expect him to win, but he was huge for the Pens. At one point, the pens were without Letang, Martin, Orpik, and Scuderi. That left their top pairing as Maatta & Niskanen, and man they played phenomenal. Granted, after the Olympic break, he did decline for a few games. Can’t blame the kid though. 19 years old and won a bronze medal playing part of the year as a top 2 dman. I’m not trying to take anything away from from either Trouba or Lindholm by saying this (I’m sure they made a huge impact for their respective clubs), but I got to watch every pens game this year so I got a larger sample size on the little things Maatta did.

    It’s kinda useless arguing over who’s in the race since MacKinnon is clearly gonna win. Just like to see him get recognition.

  • Smokin' Hoaken

    I really like all of your picks. They make a lot sense, more so than the PHBA top 5. The one thing I would change is to have Ryan Getzlaf in the top 5 for Hart votes. He was absolutely dominant this year.