I had a vote on some of the #NHLAwards – here is my ballot (and my reasoning).
Thank you to the PHWA for making me the first fantasy hockey writer to become a member and allowing me to participate in the voting process again this year.
As it’s been for the last couple of years now, the PHWA asked that all the writers keep their ballots to themselves until after the awards have been handed out. Now that they have been, I can open up. Here is my ballot, along with my explanation and reasoning – and also the actual winners.
HART TROPHY –
Actual Winner: Kane by a mile
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
2. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
3. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
4. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Last year I was almost identical to the actual voting. This year, not so much. Kane led the league in scoring wire-to-wire, so there was little doubt. But to me, Thornton deserved a Top 3 mention because of his tremendous season not only in terms of production, but in getting his Sharks into the playoffs when not everyone thought it was a sure thing. And Holtby’s season was so tremendous that he should have more love (he finished fourth in voting, Thornton was fifth).
I didn’t have Crosby in the Top 3 because he produced so poorly in the first 10 weeks of the season.
NORRIS TROPHY –
Actual Winner: Doughty
1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa
2. Brent Burns, San Jose
3. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles
4. Roman Josi, Nashville
5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh
Slide Doughty from third to first, and exchange Letang and Josi, and I’m pretty much in agreement with everyone. What I should point out is how Doughty finished 11th in Hart voting and Karlsson finished ninth…but Doughty was ahead of Karlsson in Norris voting.
Anyway, my belief is that Erik Karlsson is fine defensively. This notion that he’s terrible is ludicrous. He’s no Drew Doughty but he’s certainly better than adequate. It’s just that his defensive acumen looks pitiful when compared to his offense. His offense is all-world. He just got 82 frackin’ points! To me, a 7.5-rated defense should beat a 9.5-rated defense if he outscores the other guy 82 to 51 on offense. The gap there is so ridiculous that Doughty should not have won.
Interesting that Letang received eight first place votes, while Burns had just three.
CALDER TROPHY –
Actual Winner: Panarin
1. Artemi Panarin, Chicago
2. Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia
3. Connor McDavid, Edmonton
4. Jack Eichel, Buffalo
5. Colton Parayko, St. Louis
My ballot 100% matched the final Top 4, in order. Voting had Dylan Larkin fifth, Max Domi sixth and John Gibson seventh. Parayko was eighth. But I felt that what he did from start to finish was more impressive than Larkin’s hot first quarter, or Domi’s hot/cold streaks. Did some writers forget about Parayko? Only 19 writers (18 plus myself) even gave him a vote!
LADY BYNG TROPHY –
Actual Winner: Kopitar
1. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
2. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
4. Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
5. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
This is where my status as a blogger hurts my judgment, as opposed to a reporter or beat writer who is actually in the dressing rooms. I don’t know who is a nice guy, or who gets respected by everyone. Or who has the gentlemanly presence. All I could do is pull a list of a dozen reasonably productive players who have a low PIM count, and then ask a few writers (and I even polled fans) for advice based on that shortened list. The three finalists were all on my list, and my third guy (Gaudreau) finished fourth. There was no chance in hell that I was voting for Ryan O’Reilly. A couple of contract holdouts and a run-in with the law (no matter how minor or small) has to be a red flag that he’s not a ‘rah rah’ team-first player. That’s just how I feel.
Pietrangelo did not make the Top 20 in voting, even with the points that he got from my second place vote.
And this is something…Patrick Kane convinced eight writers to put him on their “gentlemanly player” ballot. Including a first place vote?
SELKE TROPHY –
Actual Winner: Kopitar
1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
3. Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks
4. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
5. Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche
Kopitar was a distant – distant! – third last year, but he was first on my ballot. This season he takes the Selke, but was second on my ballot. Go figure.
As with the Byng, this award had two big vote-getters and then 50 other candidates. My three throwaways were just to give them some notice. Silfverberg especially deserves more attention in this regard. Drilling into their PK ice time and their possession numbers (zone starts, quality of competition and Corsi Relative), I came up with these three. Soderberg was a top PK forward for Colorado, he saw some of the toughest competition among Avs’ forwards and his offensive zone starts were below 40%. Yet he still drove possession. Wheeler was on the second PK unit, and at even strength he faced the toughest competition quality on the team – including defensemen. He still drove possession and posted a +13.70 CorsiRel. Do I think any of these guys had a better year defensively than Kesler or Toews? In the case of Silfverberg I do, but the answer is “no” for the other two. But like I said, I wanted them to get recognized and maybe fans and writers can give them more consideration in the future.
Did Kesler’s reputation suck some of the spotlight from teammate Silfverberg’s stellar defense?
NHL All-Star Team
My Ballot (ranked in order):
– I had Gaudreau over Ovechkin, Wheeler over Tarasenko
– I wanted Josi to get more recognition for his season and for helping his team into the playoffs. I know I’ve been hard on Doughty, who is an elite defenseman. But there is no shortage of recognition for Doughty’s game already. If I thought for a second that Doughty wouldn’t make an All-Star Team, then I would have had him in my first four for sure.
– I didn’t think that Bishop was as strong last year as he was the year prior. Luongo finished fifth and Fleury somehow finished eighth.
NHL All-Rookie Team
GOAL — John Gibson
Exactly the same.
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