Midseason NHL Awards
We are approximately halfway through the 2015-16 NHL season, and this is a point that we frequently see awards predictions given. As such, I want to make some predictions of my own, and tell you who I think would win the Hart, Norris, Vezina, Selke, and Calder Trophies if the season ended today. A couple of these are the same as what I predicted in the preseason, but others have changed. So, without further ado, here are the guys I think are worthy to pose with the trophies after the awards banquet this summer.
Winner: Patrick Kane; Finalists: Erki Karlsson and Alex Ovechkin
Not long ago, I made the case as to why Karlsson should win the Hart. Truth be told, I still believe everything I said, but with Chicago holding up much better in the standings, and Ottawa currently just outside the playoff picture, I think the close battle goes to Kane. What both of those guys have done this season has been incredible, and I think they're head and shoulders above the field for now. As for Ovi, he seems to have gotten himself back on track from a fairly slow start, and now leads the league in goals. Somehow, I think another 50-goal season is a foregone conclusion.
Winner: Erik Karlsson; Finalists: Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter
There's a reason these three guys lead the league in time on ice per game: they are highly effective, and their coaches trust them greatly. All three of these guys are quite deserving, but I think Karlsson is all but a lock here. He is having an offensive season for the ages from the blue line, still on pace for nearly 90 points, even after something of a dropoff in scoring by his team. Unless someone goes off in a way as obvious as a nuclear bomb, no one is dethroning the reigning Norris holder this season.
Winner: Braden Holtby; Finalists: Corey Crawford and Roberto Luongo
Right now, the Washington Capitals have the best record in the league. While he's not the only reason, Braden Holtby is a huge reason for that. I think this is a tossup between him and Luongo at this point, and Luongo has been gaining a lot of ground as of late during the Panthers' recent tear. If the vote were held today, I would not really be shocked or offended by either of these guys winning. I think Crawford is a bit behind, but his six shutouts are a league high, and he has helped keep the Blackhawks in the contender category.
Winner: Patrice Bergeron; Finalists: Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews
Honestly, this trophy is a lot harder to call, because the kinds of contributions that win it do not show up on a score sheet. I still feel pretty comfortable going with these three guys, however, because they have established a reputation for defensive excellence, and their teams are outperforming expectations. Bergeron's reputation is the highest, and it is well-deserved. I think he will give Bob Gainey company with his fourth Selke.
Winner: Artemi Panarin; Finalists: Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin
Last season's rookie class received a lot of hype, and rightfully so. This year's group can still give them a run for their money. I believe Panarin will win it because he is running away with the rookie scoring race, but he is certainly not the only quality newcomer in the NHL. Larkin has the best plus-minus rating in the league and looks like a future Selke winner. Eichel is proving that the excitement over his arrival was justified.
It probably goes without saying that a lot of this will change in the second half of the season, but as of this moment, that is the way I see it playing out. How close or far will I end up being? Time will tell.
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