NHL Midseason Awards
Hart Trophy (MVP) - Current pick: Connor McDavid (EDM)
This may come as a surprise to some as Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov is most people`s choice and a tough 2nd for me, but Connor McDavid is truly the most valuable player and best player in the league.
The Hart trophy for MVP often involves some weighing between the “most valuable” player and the player having the best season. Kucherov is having the best season but given the Lightning also have strong candidates for Vezina and Norris too, McDavid is far more valuable. New York Islander John Tavares should also get some consideration as he leads the league in even strength points just ahead of McDavid and has led his team to a higher place in the standings. While Tampa Bay has the best record in the league, some may be skeptical of how much the team relies on Kucherov with stars at each position as well. His points lead is largely due to power play effectiveness, and McDavid offers better possession and even strength stats along with being the most critical part of a team.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman) – Current pick: John Klingberg (DAL)
There are a number of decent candidates here without one truly sticking out. Klingberg is the points leader among defensemen but that’s not the only reason he's here. He is tied with St. Louis' Alex Pietrangelo for most points at even strength with 22, two ahead of LA's Drew Doughty, who is also a strong contender.
According to Corsica, Klingberg also has the highest CF% among these three as well as Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Tampa's Victor Hedman who round out my top five. Doughty may be the better’s choice as the voters seem to love him even when he’s not doing that great but this year he warrants high praise. Erik Karlsson may have had a rough December but he is still the best defenseman in the league and could make a late charge for the trophy. Klingberg has been the best offensively and stable enough defensively to get the nod.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie) – Current pick: Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB)
This feels like an easy pick but goalies can rise and decline rapidly without warning, so trusting a young net minder like Vasilevskiy is a little risky. But his play to this point has been outstanding. Best even strength save percentage by 10 points over the next starters while also leading the league in shutouts with six.
The Blackhawks' Corey Crawford and Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky offer similar cases of great even strength goaltending being dragged down by their teams’ poor penalty killing while LA's Jonathan Quick has enjoyed a resurgent season, along with the best save percentage on the penalty kill and solid even strength numbers. Vasilevskiy’s play of late has really propelled him past the other goalies and he is my choice now.
Calder Trophy (Best Rookie) – Current pick: Brock Boeser (VAN)
This has emerged as a two horse race and it is a very close call right now. Brock Boeser and the Islanders' Matthew Barzal are neck-and-neck as we hit the halfway point of the season. Boeser has 21 goals (fourth in the league) and has more total points but Barzal edges Boeser slightly when it comes to even strength points. Barzal also has better possession stats and advanced metrics favour him to Boeser.
A key advantage is that Boeser is more valuable to his team than Barzal. While Barzal has had a great season, he is fourth on the team in points as they also have an MVP candidate in Tavares. On the other hand Boeser leads his team in points by a margin of 10 and has been with two sets of linemates so far. Voters favour the goal scorers and in this case the player more valuable to his team too.
Jack Adams Award (Best Coach) – Current pick: Gerard Gallant (VGK)
This was the easiest choice for me to make. I’d wager almost everybody has Gallant pegged as the Jack Adams frontrunner right now.
Jon Cooper’s Lightning have the best record in the league and John Hynes has turned the Devils into something solid but there’s really no contest. I mean it’s almost unbelievable what the Vegas Knights team has done AS AN EXPANSION TEAM!!! This team was configured primarily of players left off teams protected lists. Their only really big free agent signing left for Russia. Yet here they are with the second best record in the league (!!!). Granted, some players they obtained were quality pieces that should’ve been protected - like Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Nate Schmidt -but it is still surprising to pretty much everybody involved in hockey I’m sure even their fans wouldn’t have expected this. The team has gone through fie goalies but still held firm. Gallant deserves a ton of credit for how he’s been able to orchestrate this Cinderella story.