April 30, 2015

Michael Clifford


Hart Trophy finalists named; Tampa Bay goes through; a look at the Western Conference second round. 


As I am going to be doing for Thursdays throughout the summer, I'm going to open a thread for that day in the forums (typically around Noon ET) for readers to ask any fantasy hockey question, and I'll try to answer all of them (some answers are truly just speculation for now).


The Hart Trophy finalists were named yesterday with John Tavares of the Islanders, Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, and Carey Price of the Canadiens being named. I don't think there's much controversy in saying that Price seems to be the frontrunner for the trophy as he led the league in both overall save percentage and wins, and was second in five-on-five save percentage and shutouts (well, tied for second in shutouts). The Habs were 20th in the league in goals for per game and 23rd on the power play. That is to say, Price is the biggest reason the Habs not only won their division, but are set to start a second round series.

With a near-consensus winner, the "snubs" become less important. Does anyone really care if Sidney Crosby finishes 2nd or 5th in the Hart trophy voting? I think there is certainly a case to be made for him to be in the Tavares-Ovechkin mix, but it's pretty irrelevant in the larger picture. Just like last season was a slam-dunk for Crosby when he won the scoring race by 17 points (which is a huge margin for any post-Gretzky season), the same goes for Price this year.

The one thing I will say I'm interested in is to see what kind of voting Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk got. When the Wild acquired Dubnyk in the middle of January, the team was 18-19-5 (an 80-point pace), were riding a six-game losing streak, and gave up 29 goals in those six games. Minnesota would go 28-9-3 the rest of the way, with Dubnyk factoring in 27 of the 28 wins. He was only around for half a season, but as far as "value to a team" goes, the Dubnyk pulled the Wild out of the lottery abyss and they are now set to start their second round series with Chicago.

"What would this team look like without this player on the team" is a rule-of-thumb way to determine an MVP. Picture where the Wild would be without Dubnyk, and there should be visions of sand traps and ping pong balls.