As much as you’d like the year to end with a bang and not a fizzle, sadly the 2015 NHL season doesn’t truly come to an end until the NHL Awards are held on June 24. Typically a snoozer of a show, the most memorable moment last year was not any award winner but rather the antics of a (probably) drunk Cuba Gooding Jr.
This year, however, some tight races for hardware might make it necessary to tune in for the debacle. You can still skip the monologues and music, but the opening of the envelopes will provide closure to some fierce debates, like those surrounding the following awards.
Carey Price: 1/1
Alexander Ovechkin: 2/1
John Tavares: 5/1
It’s the classic debate of best skater versus best goalie in Price and Ovechkin. The edge has to go to Price though, who led all goalies in wins, goals-against-average, and save percentage, posting nine shutouts and leading an offensively challenged Canadiens team (18th in goals for) to the second-best record in the league. Ovechkin, to his credit, ran away with the Rocket Richard Trophy, but a strong season by teammates Nicklas Backstrom (78 points) and netminder Braden Holtby (2.22 GAA) soften the Great Eight’s impact.
Drew Doughty: 3/2
P.K. Subban: 7/3
Erik Karlsson: 7/3
The Norris (for best defenseman) is a very difficult race to call, thanks in large part to the injury to Mark Giordano. Karlsson led all defenseman in scoring again this year with 66 points (30 on the PP) and Subban was not far behind with 60 (21 on the PP). Doughty led all nominees with over 28 minutes a night on the ice, 144 blocked shots, and 152 hits; he also added a very respectable 46 points.
While the Habs and Sens made the playoffs and the Kings narrowly missed, the award may boil down to this: Karlsson and Subban have both already won a Norris and Doughty hasn’t. Will one of the best in the NHL really get passed over again?
Aaron Ekblad: 1/1
Mark Stone: 2/1
Johnny Gaudreau: 5/1
Certainly the sexiest of the races, Mark Stone and “Johnny Hockey” (64 points each) took the league by storm, helping two surprise teams to playoff berths. Stone, in particular, was great down the stretch, scoring 21 points in the final month to help the Sens sneak in on the final day. He also led all rookies in goals (26) and tied for the lead in game winning goals (6). But Aaron Ekblad had a special kind of season, playing over 21 minutes a night, throwing 109 hits, blocking 80 shots, and scoring 39 points. And the kid just turned 19 years-old in February! It’s hard to pass on a teenager who plays like – and is fast becoming – a number-one defenseman, no matter how fun the other candidates are.
Carey Price: 1/4
Devin Dubnyk: 4/1
Pekka Rinne: 1000/1
One of these candidates is up for the MVP; it’s not really a discussion. Dubnyk was an unbelievable story, but let’s be real here. I’ve wasted enough time on this topic already!
Patrice Bergeron: 3/2
Anze Kopitar: 5/3
Jonathan Toews: 7/2
It’s the same three nominees as last season, in which Bergeron won the honours for the second time in his career. The likely winner again, Bergeron led the league in faceoff percentage and wins, averaged over 18 minutes a nigh,t and had a turnover difference of +19. Toews also had a strong year at the dot, finishing fourth in faceoff wins and helping the Blackhawks to a league low in goals allowed. Kopitar led all nominees with 105 hits on the year. While it could be anybody’s award, it will probably go the same way as last year.
Jack Adams Award:
Bob Hartley: 1/2
Peter Laviolette: 5/2
Alain Vigneault: 20/1
Defined as the coach of the year award, the Jack Adams is really the award for the biggest turnaround. With that in mind, Bob Hartley’s 20 point improvement in Calgary ekes out Laviolette’s 16 point turnaround in Nashville. Given how low the expectations were for the Flames this year, the play of youngsters like Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and how the team navigated the injury to star defenseman Mark Giordano, it seems to be Hartley’s award to lose.
(Photo Credit: By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)