The 2015-16 NHL season is just past the half-way point. It’s been a pretty great year so far, full of highlights and memorable moments, Alexander Ovechkin’s 500th goal, just to name one. If the Regular Season Award ceremony was held tonight, here are the most likely winners for each (note: we’ve chosen to omit the Masterson and Lady Byng Trophies because the criteria for them also depends on off-ice behavior, we’re keeping it strictly skills here).
Calder Trophy: Max Domi, LW- Arizona Coyotes
The NHL’s rookie class this year is as stacked as ever and may be one of the greatest of all time. Dylan Larkin, Artemi Panarin, Anthony Duclair, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Max Domi, Mike Condon and John Gibson have all been outstanding and will indubitably go on to be NHL superstars as they mature. But, the man who I believe is most worthy of the Calder Trophy this year is Domi. Tie’s son (who at 20 is already a better player than his dad ever was) is lighting up the desert with his sensational play. As of right now, Domi is second in points and assists (31 and 18) and third in goals (13). When you consider that he is on the Arizona Coyotes, it is a very impressive showing. Not knocking Arizona, but they’re a team that lacks in star power and doesn’t have much elite prowess. For a 20-year-old to be putting up those numbers on a time like that is incredible. Panarin, who was been sensational for Chicago, is deserving of the award as well, especially when you consider that he wasn’t drafted. But, you have to keep in mind that he is studying under the League’s elite in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov. Also, Panarin is only a rookie in the sense of playing his first NHL season, but it isn’t his first professional season. He has previously played in the KHL, so he’s not truly a first year professional. Domi is a first year and doesn’t have names like that around him and he’s still playing out of his mind. For that, the award is his. Dylan Larkin has been sensational for Detroit, his name is not out of consideration.
Jack Adams Award: Gerard Gallant- Florida Panthers
The surprise team of the season has unquestionably been the Florida Panthers. The team that historically been unpopular both on the road and at home is making a run for it this year, currently sitting at second in the Eastern Conference behind only Washington with a record of 26-13-5. Led by the age-defying Jaromir Jagr, as well as Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, Gerard Gallant’s squad has gone from non entity to hot commodity in seemingly an instant. The consistently low attendance at BB&T Center has cast clouds of doubt over the Panthers future, bit life is coming back into the arena for the first time in years. If the Panthers can keep this up, they will turn many heads and might just surprise a few people. Gerard Gallant has been instrumental to this rise in his second season with the Panthers. Fellow 300Level writer Dan Leopold said it best when he stated that surprise teams almost always produce Coach of the Year winners in most sports. If Florida continues its terrific season, Gallant will be rewarded. Lindy Ruff’s Dallas Stars and Barry Trotz’ Washington Capitals are also having tremendous seasons, putting their respective names in the hat as well.
Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson- Ottawa Senators
A defenseman has not repeated as the Norris Trophy winner since Niklas Lidstrom did in 2007 and 2008. But, all Erik Karlsson has to do to make that happen for himself is to continue at the rate he’s going. Ottawa’s dynamic defender is on pace to go above and beyond his totals from last year. At the season’s half way point, Karlsson already has 9 goals and 36 assists for 44 points, he had 69 all last season. In addition, he is a plus-1. The Swede already has two Norris Trophies to his credit (2011-12 as well), and will have no problem at all making it three if he keeps up his smooth two way play that makes him the NHL’s best all-around defenseman. Brent Burns of San Jose and John Klingberg of Dallas are also amidst career years, be on the look out for them as well.
Matt Morris: @Flat_Manigen74
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron, C- Boston Bruins
He’s won this award the past two years, so it’s no surprise to see Bergeron the front runner for this year’s Selke Trophy. He’s put up 38 points in 42 games this year, a pace that’s a steep increase from his 55 point season last year. His 56.8 faceoff winning percentage is very solid and his Corsi and Fenwick numbers both exceed 53 percent. His positioning and defensive contribution make him one of the best all-around players in the league and he should be duly awarded the Selke Trophy should his numbers hold up through the rest of the season. Ryan O’Reilly has been a defensive revelation for the Buffalo Sabres while contributing a career high pace for goals and points, and so deserves a nomination. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews also requires a mention for his two-way style of play and unrivaled leadership.
Vezina Trophy: Braden Holtby- Washington Capitals
With a sterling .933 Save Percentage that leads all goaltenders with at least 20 games played, Holtby gets the nod for the mid-season Vezina Trophy. He’s clearly benefited from the organized, defensive-minded strategies coach Barry Trotz has instilled into the Washington Capitals. The D.C. stalwart emerged as an elite keeper last year, but he’s been in Carey Price-esque form all season as the Capitals sit seven points clear of first place in the entire NHL. Holtby is a big reason for their success, as the team has let in a meager 91 goals, tops in the league. Corey Crawford also deserves a shout for leading the NHL in shutouts and Petr Mrazek has done a stellar job of supplanting Jimmy Howard in the Red Wings goaltending pecking order.
Hart Trophy: Patrick Kane, RW- Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane is running away with the Art Ross Trophy. His 63 points are a staggering 10 more than the closest competitor. With such a commanding lead, there’s no doubt he’s the Hart Trophy leader thus far. With the ubiquitous Chicago Blackhawks tied for the lead in the Central Division, Kane’s team also has the regular season success practically mandatory to win this award. The Central Division seems to have a plethora of Hart Trophy Candidates this year. Besides Kane, the Dallas Stars duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are having career years, sporting 53 and 51 point tallies, respectively.
Who gets your awards for the half-season?