2020 Regular Season NHL Awards Predictions
By: Zach Irwin (@ZachIrwin3196)
Around this time in the NHL season, we would be celebrating and looking back at the year that was the thrilling 2020 season during the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas. It stinks because the best of the best won’t get the formal recognition that they deserve for great seasons they were having thus far. Though the NHL said they are hoping to find a date so those players can get the recognition, it doesn’t look promising. But with that aside, it’s still always fun to make predictions of who we believe deserves what award. Will John Carlson or Roman Josi win the Norris trophy for best defensemen. Or will the Calder trophy for best rookie go to Avalanche phenom Cale Makar or Canucks rising star Quinn Hughes? Now, let’s start by handing out some awards to the players/teams who awarded these once the regular season deemed finished:
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (Most goals during the season): David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) and Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals).
Both scored 48 during the 2020 regular season, and there is no tie-breaker to determine this award.
The Art Ross Trophy (Most points during the season): Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers).
With a healthy lead, once the season halted, there was no surprise Draisaitl with 110 points was winning the Art Ross.
The William Jennings Award (Fewest goals allowed): Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak (Boston Bruins).
Considered the best goaltending tandem in the league, the duo from the Bruins only gave up 167 goals or 2.39 goals against per game (GAA).
The Presidents Trophy (Best record): Boston Bruins
When play was suspended, the Boston Bruins had 100 points in 70 games that added up to a .714 winning %. Yea, I’d say that’s enough to be given this award. Now, the tough decisions being made to who wins these significant awards:
Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie): Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins). Runner-Up: Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets)
As a hockey fan, you just have to tip your cap to Hellebuyck because what he did this season for the Winnipeg Jets was nothing short than amazing, especially with the number of players they lost the last offseason, he helped them make it to the playoffs. Now to the winner, Tuukka Rask was simply sensational this year! For goalies who played at least 30 games, Rask played 41 games, was 2nd in SV% (.929%), 1st in GAA (2.19), 7th in wins (26), and was tied for 2nd in shutouts (5). Simply put, you couldn’t find a more consistent or reliable goalie in the NHL than Rask. There’s still a chance he might not win, and it does go to Hellebuyck because Rask and Halak do split time in net compared to Hellebuyck and his backup. Plus, Boston is a much better all-round team compared to Winnipeg, where individual performances won’t be looked at much in Boston, unlike the Jets.
Jack Adams Award (Best coach): Alain Vigneault (Philadelphia Flyers) Runner-Up: Dave Tippett (Edmonton Oilers)
Dave Tippett or even John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets would’ve made great selections as well to win the Jack Adams. Still, I believe Vigneault deserves to win because like the Blue Jackets most people didn’t have the Flyers being a playoff team let alone be a contender for the Stanley Cup. Heck, just look at this article from the beginning of the season.
AV has been able to get his players to buy into his system where veterans and rookies all were contributing. And before the season was suspended, the Flyers were the hottest team from February and into March having a nine-game winning streak before losing to Boston in a close 2-0 loss. There are many coaches that deserve this award, but very few coaches were able to change not only the culture but also the way teams viewed how to play them quite like Vigneault.
The Selke Trophy (Best defensive forward): Sean Couturier (Philadelphia Flyers) Runner-Up: Mark Stone (Vegas Golden Knights)
While it’s surprising not to see Patrice Bergeron not winning this award, he most definitely will be in the hunt. But Couturier has been in the running since 2015, and this year should be the year he gets recognized. He is the Flyers alpha dog center for the last three seasons, and among NHL centers he ranks 1st in faceoff % (59.6%), tied for 5th in plus-minus (+21), 13th in even-strength points (46), and is tied for 30th in shorthanded minutes (140:29). He is producing all the while he has the responsibility of dealing with the opposition’s most robust top 2 lines. While Couturier, in my opinion, should be the winner of this award, I do firmly believe Stone deserves a lot of recognition as well, due to the fact he is the Knights’ best penalty-killer as a right-winger. It’s tough to win this award as a winger because it’s only been awarded to 4 wingers, the last being Jere Lehtinen in 2003.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie): Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) Runner-Up: Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)
In my opinion, this was the most robust award to hand out because both Hughes and Makar will be huge factors to their prospective team’s success. Both players had almost the same amount of ice time, Makar (21:01), and Hughes (21:53) and were very close in points with Makar putting up 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games, where Hughes put up similar production in more games with 53 points (8 goals, 45 assists) in 68 games. But despite Hughes having a few more points than Makar, I can’t ignore the fact that before Makar got hurt for a month, he was in the conversation as a dark-horse Norris trophy candidate and viewed as the best rookie in the NHL. With the 50 points in 57 games, which included having 19 points on the powerplay and four game-winning goals (GWG) with a plus-12 rating. It’s a hard award to vote for, and both guys make cases that it should go to them, but at the end of the day, Makar’s play defensively is what separated him from Hughes.
Norris Trophy (Best defensemen): John Carlson (Washington Capitals) Runner-Up: Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)
Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators had a career year this past season with 65 points (16 goals, 49 assists) in 69 games. But nobody could say the same about the Preds who struggled mightily throughout the season and barely made the playoffs. It was still very close like the Calder trophy, but at the end of the day, team success and individual success go hand and hand, which is why the award goes to John Carlson. Carlson was the defensive backbone of the Metro division winner Washington Capitals putting up 75 points (15 goals, 60 assists) in 69 games. It was hard not giving the award to Josi because he genuinely is a defenseman that teams dream about having on their side. Still, history shows that in recent years that if you put up the most points as a defenseman and have a good plus-minus you’ll be given the award. It’s not saying it would be shocking if Josi did end up winning, it’s just the NHL looks at team success and the player’s success when giving these types of awards out.
Hart Trophy (MVP of the league): Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) Runner-Up: Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
Draisaitl was the best player in the league. Still, before talking about the incredible season, Draisaitl had, we do have to give recognition to Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers. Putting up 95 points with a new team is no small feat, so kudos on a great year. Now, what Draisaitl did this year in Edmonton was genuinely outstanding, which is saying a lot considering they have another MVP on their team by the name of Connor McDavid. Both of them were 1st and 2nd in points, but it’s what Leon did when McDavid wasn’t in the lineup that proved vital to the regular-season success of the Oilers. Carrying the team in place of an injured McDavid, the Oilers barely missed a beat. Draisaitl finished the season 4th in goals (43), 1st in assists (67), was 1st in points (110) and first in power-play points (44). Producing all these points while there were 15 or more games left to be played, who knows how many points he would’ve ended the season with. That said, Draisaitl was a shoo-in to be the league’s most valuable player.