The 2016-17 NHL season hasn’t crowned its winner. But for the regular season awards, the work is done, the resumes are intact, and the odds can be set.
Though the league has yet to announce the three finalists for its most coveted piece of hardware, the Hart (MVP), two of the three spots are a foregone conclusion and there’s an obvious frontrunner. Meanwhile, an award that looked like it was decided ages ago (Norris) is now a tight race, while the closest race of the year (Calder) turned into a bit of a runaway in the late going.
Who will be trotting up to the stage at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on June 21st?
2016-17 NHL Awards Odds
Hart Trophy Odds
- Connor McDavid (Edmonton): 1/2
- Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): 3/1
- Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus): 10/1
Take McDavid off the Oilers and you’re left with a squad that would be in the running for another first-overall draft pick. The Penguins aren’t the Penguins without Crosby, but when you’ve got the third-leading PPG player in the league on your roster as well (Evgeni Malkin), it detracts from your overall value to your team. McDavid had more points, more time-on-ice, and a better plus-minus. Crosby has the better possession numbers, but don’t count on advanced stats ruling the day just yet.
Bobrovsky is a worthy finalist, but the Hart rarely goes to goalies, especially in years when the sport’s transcendent talents were at the top of their games.
Vezina Trophy Odds
- Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus): 1/5
- Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota): 12/1
- Braden Holtby (Washington): 12/1
The fact that I have Bobrovsky as a Hart finalist should tell you more than enough about who I think will win the Vezina. He led the league in save-percentage (.931), was third in wins (41), and top-ten in games played (63). He also led the league in goals-against average (2.06) among goalies who played at least 25 games. He’s the biggest reason Columbus had its best season to date.
Dubnyk had a phenomenal year for the Wild (2.25 GAA; .923 SV%), but he had the better team in front of him, as evidenced by the fact that he faced fewer shots than Bobrovsky despite playing two more games.
Holtby led the league in wins (42) and was second in GAA (2.07) and fourth in save-percentage (.925), but you want to talk about having a better team in front of you?
Norris Trophy Odds
- Brent Burns (San Jose): 4/5
- Erik Karlsson (Ottawa): 3/2
- Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay): 19/1
Burns was the run-away favorite for the Norris for the bulk of the year thanks to the ludicrous offensive numbers he was putting up from the back end. While he finished the year first among d-men in goals (29) and points (76), he sagged a bit toward the end. That was a big part of why the Sharks sank in the standings and wound up conceding home-ice to the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. The other knock against him is that he wasn’t necessarily facing the other team’s top line, night-in and night-out, like Karlsson and Hedman.
He’s still the favorite, because who the hell scores 29 goals from the blue-line? (Put your hand down, Paul Coffey. That was a different era. The answer I’m looking for is no one since Mike Green in 2008-09.) But there’s a narrative you can craft that works in favor of Karlsson, who’s the heart of the Ottawa offense and it’s most reliable defender.
Calder Trophy Odds
- Auston Matthews (Toronto): 2/5
- Patrick Laine (Winnipeg): 11/4
- Zach Werenski (Columbus): 50/1
A true toss-up for most of the year, Matthews separated with a late flurry that helped him reach the 40-goal plateau. Laine had more points per game (64 in 73, versus 69 in 82 for Matthews) but he wasn’t the leading scorer on his team and the Jets didn’t make the playoffs, which are two boxes Matthews can tick.
Sorry, Zach Werenski, you’re just a seat filler at this ceremony.
Masterton Trophy Odds
- Craig Anderson (Ottawa): 1/9
- Andrew Cogliano (Anaheim): 19/1
- Derek Ryan (Carolina): 19/1
Awarded to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey,” the Masterton usually goes to a player coming back from a catastrophic injury or having a huge bounce-back year. Anderson isn’t really doing either, but he’s shown tremendous perseverance and dedication nonetheless. He took a two month-long leave from the team in December after his wife was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He returned in early February and back-stopped Ottawa to second in the Atlantic Division. While he only ended up playing 40 games, he put up the best stats of his career on the whole: 2.16 GAA; .926 SV%.
Derek Ryan’s claim to fame is that he’s old for a first-year player (30).
Cogliano’s nomination is a bit of a life-time achievement award for the iron-man, who’s never missed a game in his ten-year NHL career.
The fact that the other two nominees don’t really have headline-grabbing stories makes Anderson an even bigger favorite.
Photo credit: Michael Miller [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0]