Ramblings: Wayne Simmonds, Carolina, NHL Awards – June 21

by Michael Clifford on June 21, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Wayne Simmonds, Carolina, NHL Awards – June 21

The NHL Awards took place on Wednesday night and as with most NHL awards shows, there were quite a few bad bits of comedy along with some feel-good stories mixed in. They started the show with a magic act and then a ventriloquist. I wish I was kidding.

Anyway, the winners are…

Ted Lindsay Award (Most outstanding as voted by players) – Connor McDavid

Not sure there’s a huge argument with this one. McDavid lapped the field in five-on-five points – he had more 5v5 points than Sidney Crosby and Patrik Laine combined – and was held back by an abysmal team. This is where the semantics between “most outstanding” and “most valuable” separate the Lindsay from the Hart. Just imagine what his point totals might look like next year if the power play isn’t awful.

 

Norris Trophy Victor Hedman

This is another on where it wasn’t much of a surprise. Having a 60-point season with the plus/minus he did on a division winner is pretty much a lock. He’s probably number-3 in terms of fantasy defencemen behind Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson but given the team that’s employing him, I’m sure people are ready to make an argument he should be higher. Expect Hedman to be perennially in the Norris conversation. Shout out to the guy who voted Josh Manson (?) fourth (??):

 

Calder Trophy Mathew Barzal

This might have been the most automatic award of the night (though four people who voted someone else other than Barzal for first place, including Yanni Gourde). The kid is electric. Hope he’s ready to be the face of the franchise.

 

Not considered one of the major awards, but huge kudos to Brian Boyle on his win of the Masterton Trophy. Not only did he overcome leukemia with which he was diagnosed in the preseason, he came back and was a big part of the team that miraculously made the playoffs. A tremendous story of perseverance and dedication. All the best to him moving forward.

They also awarded the first Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award to Darcy Haugan, the head coach of the Humboldt Broncos who passed in that trafic accident two months ago. They had 10 members of the team come on stage and his wife accepted the award. It was a truly special moment and should inspire people to follow Mr. Haugan's lead in helping others before themselves.

 

Anze Kopitar won the Selke as the best two-way forward but the best part was they had the magician do the reveal with a magic trick and he screwed up the trick. He was supposed to reveal the cards to form a picture of Kopitar but they were all in the wrong order and no one could tell who won. Then Kopitar just walked past him:

Just amazing stuff.

 

Vezina Trophy Pekka Rinne

The heavy betting favourite from Bodog came through as Rinne took home the Vezina. It’s truly a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago. Remember that from 2012-2016, he posted three seasons with a save percentage of .910 or less, averaging .913. He’s posted a .923 over the last two years and then that wonderful playoff run in 2017. He has one year left on his deal, though, and we’re all waiting for the reigns to be turned over to Juuse Saros. It'll be interesting to see what the Preds do in 2018-19. 

 

Hart Trophy Taylor Hall

It was pretty close between Hall and Nathan MacKinnon but Hall won out in the end. I wasn’t going to argue one way or the other here. Both had fantastic seasons and led their down-and-out franchises to playoff appearances. Both should be commended.

But also, never forget:

*

As Ian pointed out in his Ramblings yesterday, rumours are that Wayne Simmonds is available in a trade. Per Cap Friendly, Simmonds has a limited NTC which has him able to submit a 12-team no-trade list. That kind of cuts things down a bit. But for the teams not on the list, he has one year left on a very cheap cap hit and is one of the elite power forwards in the game. As a net-front presence on the power play, there probably aren’t any better in the game.

Which playoff hopeful could use a player like him? Remember, this is without knowing which teams he’d have on his NTC.

Edmonton would appear to make sense because they need to rebound from an awful year but they need controllable, young players. A guy with one year left on his deal and turning 30 in August doesn’t fit the bill.

What about the Blackhawks? This is a team who believes their Cup window is still open and once they LTIR Marian Hossa, they’ll have more than enough cap space to add Simmonds. Their power play was a horror show at times last year and Simmonds can help a lot in this regard.

To me, the most sense is Calgary. This team *desperately* needs some depth on right wing. Assuming they don’t want to break up the 3M line, there really isn’t a whole lot else there. They need a guy who can play on the top line and they need a guy who can kickstart that abysmal power play. Simmonds can do both. Calgary should be doing everything they can to add him, and I say this not only as a greedy fantasy owner. The question is if they want to part with more assets given their lack of draft picks already.

*

Don Waddell was on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central on Wednesday discussing Carolina being ready to make some deals in the next week or so. This isn’t a surprise to anyone but Jeff Skinner’s name came up specifically while he downplayed the rumours on Noah Hanifin. He made it sound like their intention would be to keep Hanifin long-term.

With that said, a column yesterday from Bruce Garrioch at the Ottawa Sun said that Carolina had shown interest in acquiring Erik Karlsson. As pointed out by TSN’s Travis Yost on Twitter, the revelation that Carolina was one of the teams, on top of the usual suspects like Tampa Bay and Vegas, inquiring on Karlsson during the season is interesting.

Could a sign-and-trade package revolving around Hanifin and Skinner make sense for Ottawa? It would give them a proven scorer to replace Mike Hoffman that they could re-sign should they so choose, and a young, controllable defenceman that they could have on their blue line for much of the next decade. There would obviously be other pieces involved and I’m just spitballing. But a package like that could get the ball rolling on Karlsson. Just a thought.

*

With the NHL Awards taking place, now might be a good time to look forward to the NHL Awards of 2019. It’s prediction time!

These are almost certainly going to be wrong as we haven’t even gone through the Entry Draft yet, let alone free agency and the meat of trade season. But until we get the Draft, trades, and free agency, there just isn’t a whole lot to cover in the hockey world at the moment.

 

Hart Trophy

Winner: Jack Eichel

Nominees: Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele

We saw this year that the PHWA is willing to vote not necessarily for the best player as MVP but the player who helped an underdog reach the postseason. When looking across the league, are there any bigger underdogs to reach the postseason than Buffalo? Sure, they’re getting Rasmus Dahlin in the Entry Draft, but this is a team which has been home in April in seven straight seasons and has averaged 63.4 points over the last five years.

If Buffalo were to make a huge turnaround, a lot of things have to go right: both Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt have to be Calder-worthy, Ryan O’Reilly probably can’t get traded, Kyle Okposo has to be the player they signed in free agency two years ago and not the player he’s been since, Sam Reinhart’s production progression needs to continue, and they need to make a splash in free agency to reinforce their defence corps. They should probably add a couple good bottom-six forwards as well. I get that the East is tough, but if a few things go right, they can pass teams like Ottawa, Montreal, the Rangers, and Detroit. Depending on what happens with trades and free agency, they can pass teams like the Islanders and Hurricanes as well. It doesn’t leave them that far from playoff contention.

Of course, if Buffalo were to even make a playoff push rather than be out of contention by Christmas, Eichel has to be one of the top producers in the league. He’s coming into his fourth season (we love our Year 4 guys here at Dobber) and hopefully he’s healthy all year long. It might be a longshot that the Sabres can turn their fortunes around in one season, but we saw two stark examples of this in 2017-18, and if they can pull off the miracle, a monster season from Eichel will be a big reason why.

 

Norris Trophy

Winner: Erik Karlsson

Nominees: Victor Hedman, Brent Burns

This is all predicated on Karlsson being traded out of the raging landfill fire that is the Ottawa Senators organization. All signs are pointing to him having a new home for the 2018-19 season and honestly, it doesn’t matter where. There’s nowhere he can be traded in the NHL that will be a downgrade.

Karlsson has two Norris wins and two second-place finishes in the last seven years. And, honestly, it should be three wins but there was a season where Drew Doughty got a lifetime achievement award or something, so it’s not as if picking Karlsson to win is stepping out on a ledge.

In 2017-18, Karlsson managed just (and I say that laughingly) 62 points and did so on 219 goals scored by the team. But he missed 11 games and the Sens scored 30 goals in those 11 games. Karlsson thus figured in 32.8 percent of goals in games that he played. If he can go to a team like Vegas or San Jose, and play a full season, figuring in on nearly one-third of 250+ goals works out to a point-per-game season. If Karlsson is a point-per-game player on a playoff team, he walks to his third Norris Trophy.

 

Vezina Trophy

Winner: John Gibson

Nominees: Antti Raanta, Sergei Bobrovsky

The potential loss of Ryan Kesler undoubtedly hurts this team if he indeed misses the 2018-19 season, but he was injured and largely ineffective last year as it was. A full season from Ryan Getzlaf and Sam Steel making his way to the team should go a long way in shoring them up down the middle. Don’t forget that Hampus Lindholm started the season injured as well. Just this team being healthy, Kesler aside, should mean improvement from the Ducks. Despite the injuries last year, Gibson was still one of the best goaltenders in the league. He just needs to stay healthy himself.

Anaheim still boasts a pretty good top-4 defence corps with Lindholm, Josh Manson, Brandon Montour, and Cam Fowler. They can still ice a pretty good top-3 lines so it’s just really tinkering with depth that they need. A healthy year from this roster, and Gibson playing like he can, should have him in the Vezina conversation.

As always, goaltending is very uncertain. Feel free to throw this all in my face in 12 months.