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NHL Awards 2014: Who gets the hardware?

Managing Editor Jaime Eisner makes his picks for the major NHL awards for the 2013-14 season.

Bruce Bennett

We at the newly dubbed Professional Hockey Bloggers Association (PHBA), which is in no way similar to that other association with three of the same four letters, put together our votes to determine the winners of the seven major awards the NHL hands out. You can find that post HERE.

Now that you have seen the consensus choices, here is my take on the NHL's biggest individual prizes:


Winner: Sidney Crosby

Runners-upRyan GetzlafClaude Giroux

Often this award boils down to the debate of most outstanding player vs. most valuable player. Fortunately, this season, the same player fits into both of those categories - Sidney Crosby. Crosby ran away with the Art Ross with 104 points, 17 more than his closest competition. The 26-year-old is a solid possession player (53% Corsi for) with fairly neutral zone starts while playing against very good competition.

Crosby led the league in assists (68), was seventh in the league in goals (36) and led all forwards in ice time per game (21:58). He drew 10 more penalties than he took and captained an injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins team to 51 wins.

Crosby is the best player in the world and his play this season did nothing to assuage that belief.

The closest competition comes from a pair of fellow centers, Ryan Getzlaf and Claude Giroux. Getzlaf was second in the league in scoring with 87 points and was a positive possession player despite unfavorable zone starts and facing high level competition. Getzlaf was under 50 percent in the dot, which hurts his case, but is clearly No. 2 in this race.

Mr. Playoff Prediction himself slots in at No. 3 after rebounding from his slow start to rack up 78 points in his final 67 games and 84 points overall. Giroux had the best possession of the three players listed in this article, but faced slightly lesser competition and benefited from favorable zone starts. The big question is: if nominated, will Giroux bring partner in crime Paul Bissonnette back to Las Vegas?

Opposing viewpoint: Screw Crosby. So he's the best player in the world and was able to make schlubs like Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, and Lee Stempniak look like moderately talented guys while walking away with the NHL scoring race and leading Pittsburgh to a first place finish in a Metropolitan division that couldn't do enough to crumble in upon itself. And Getzlaf gets to play with that bum Perry all the time and make him look world class. But Giroux actually makes Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds into top-line talents and 20+ goal scorers through almost sheer will alone. Don't get me wrong, Hartnell and Simmonds are decent enough players at times (when Hartnell isn't sliding across the ice on his ass mostly - #HartnellDown), but the sole reason that they are putting up the points that they are is because of Giroux. And after seven points through his first 15 games while dealing with an injury (but playing through it), he scored 78 points over the final 67 games including a ridiculous March when the Flyers really locked up their playoff position. He also followed through on his prediction (roundly ridiculed) that the Flyers would make the playoffs even after starting the season 1-7, and they did...handily.  So screw Crosby and Getzlaf - Giroux recovered from an injury, adjusted his game to a new coach and willed his team into a winner.  MVP all the way. - by Jordan Ellel


Winner: Semyon Varlamov

Runners-upTuukka RaskBen Bishop

By far the hardest award to choose. I am not even sure I got this right. There are four goalies that could easily win this award and I would not bat an eye if no one in my top three (i.e Carey Price) won.

I struggled with this pick a lot. In the end, the names Rask, Varlamov, Rask, Varlamov danced back-and-forth in my mind. Do I choose the goalie with the best stats overall or do I choose the goalie whose stats in context are more impressive?

Rask, the man who probably introduces himself as "Tuukka with two U's," has the best overall save percentage (.930) and even strength save percentage (.941) of any goalie with at least 30 games played. He also leads the league in shutouts with seven. Rask seems like an obvious choice, but there is one thing I can't get out of my mind - the teams in front of the goalies in question.

The Boston Bruins finished the season as the third best possession team in the NHL with a 55.0 percent Corsi for close. On the other hand, the Colorado Avalanche were the sixth worst possession team in the league with a 47.4 percent Corsi for close. Why does this matter? Because Semyon Varlamov had to stand on his head, so to speak, in order for the Avalanche to be a successful team. Varlamov has performed almost as admirably statistically as Rask, but in a much tougher situation.

Varlamov led all goalies in saves (1867) by a healthy margin despite being fifth in total ice time. Varlamov's save  numbers are not far off Rask's either (.927 Sv% compared to .930).

I quite frankly may have got this one wrong, but in the end, I feel Varlamov's season in context was ever so slightly more outstanding than Rask's.

Opposing viewpoint: Although Varlamov has been excellent this season, Rask has been the best NHL goaltender this year. His 5-on-5 save percentage is the best in the NHL at 94.1 percent and although he is seeing less shots then most of the other NHL goaltenders, he still made the saves that needed to be made.  Part of that is his insane goals against stats. He is top five in goals against in all situations and fourth in 5-on-5 goals against despite playing more games then every other player who allowed less goals. Also, since Mike Smith was the only goaltender to score a goal this season, he deserves the Vezina. - by Carl Pavlock


Winner: Duncan Keith

Runners-upZdeno CharaDrew Doughty

Ah, the Norris Trophy. The inevitable yearly debate surrounding offensive defensemen and all-around defensemen springs up under this trophy's heading. The last two winners (P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson) fall into the former category, but this season's potential nominees fall into the latter.

My choice is Duncan Keith. Keith led all defensemen in assists (55) and was second in points (61) only behind Karlsson. The 30-year-old is a very good possession player (56.6% Corsi for) who plays against significantly above average competition on a nightly basis. While he is the beneficiary of favorable zone starts (57.4% O/D), Kieth still plays a ton of PK time and is an all-situations type of defensemen.

As is frequently the case, the competition is tight. Drew Doughty's advanced metrics are a bit better, Zdeno Chara plays much tougher minutes, but those components do not close the gap between those two candidates and the Blackhawks' defenseman. Keith has a more than 20-point lead on either of the two aforementioned candidates. All things equal and it would be a different outcome, but the point gap between Keith and the other two is enough to give Keith the slight edge.

Opposing viewpoint: Keith is a runaway choice if you only go by the production numbers, i.e. Karlsson two years ago. But the Norris trophy is supposed to go the the best overall defensemen, not the best offensive defensemen. Using that definition, the Kings' defenseman had a better season than Keith across the board. Doughty had more goals and the Kings struggled to score (26th in goals scored) compared to the offensive Hawks (2nd in goals scored). The 24-year-old also played more minutes than Keith, averaging 25:42 compared to 24:38. The advanced stats liked the Ontario native's game more this season, with him beating the other candidates in goals for percentage and relative goals for, Corsi and relative Corsi. He also had a more balanced zone start time (54.2% O/D) compared to Keith (57.3%). Doughty also faced higher quality competition while playing with lower quality teammates. Chicago's top d-man certainly had a great season for a fantastic team, but Doughty's season was simply better in every measurable quality except points. - by Christopher Hair


Winner: Patrice Bergeron

Runners-upAnze KopitarJonathan Toews

Jack Edwards' favorite two-way forward gets my Selke nod. Bergeron led all eligible payers in Corsi for percentage despite having unfavorable zone stars (45.7%). The 28-year-old center finished third in the league in faceoff percentage, winning 58.6 percent of his draws. Bergeron has been considered one the best defensive forwards for years and won this award two years ago.

The Los Angeles Kings' center with a fancy hashtag (#SelkeSmooth) comes in close second with reigning Selke winner Jonathan Toews in third. Both players are strong in the dot and are very strong possession players, but fall just short of Bergeron's 2013-14 performance.

Opposing viewpoint: I spent a hot minute in my mind palace going over everything I know about Toews and Bergeron. Competitors, warriors, both with those lifeless eyes, cold eyes, like a doll's eyes. The two most complete forwards in the game with comparable stats and metrics.

Toews gets knocked because his offensive zone starts are much better than Bergeron. At even strength, Toews starts about 65% of his shifts in the O zone to Bergy's 46%. But the Blackhawks start with the puck in the offensive end more than any other team, and someone has to take the draw. Hey, why not your top line center? Excellent strategy, sir!

I take zone starts with a grain of salt as Toews beat out Bergeron last year with the zone % being similar (56% to 42%). Have the vast majority of voters bought into the advanced metrics enough to have this factor in their decision? (A casual reminder that Steve Simmons is a human). And if they do, they should note that Toews is heavily favored in penalty +/- where he is +9 to Bergeron's -3.

All in all, this is going to be a race decided by the slimmest of margins, but I'm giving it to Toews for his sterling defensive game that he exhibits every time blades touch ice. And, I'm from Chicago. - by Stone Cutter of Second City Hockey


Winner: Nathan MacKinnon

Runners-upOndrej PalatTyler Johnson

The race for rookie of the year really heated up toward the end of the season, with two rookies from Tampa Bay making a major push. But, the player that was No. 1 at the draft is No. 1 yet again.

Nathan MacKinnon had a sensational season in his debut, carrying over the same skill he displayed as a Halifax Moosehead. MacKinnon led all rookies in goals (24), assists (39) and points (63). He also drew 19 more penalties than he took.

The town of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia has a chance to be the home of a pair of 2013-14 NHL award winners if MacKinnon takes home an award like fellow Cole Harbour native Crosby.

Ondrej Palat and teammate Tyler Johnson put up a heck of a fight down the stretch and were key cogs in Tampa Bay's run to the playoffs. The advanced metrics favor Palat, but show he also benefited from more favorable zone starts. I give the slight edge to MacKinnon over Palat for playing the tougher position.

Opposing viewpoint: A 7th round draft pick in 2011, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Palat beat the odds to make it to the NHL, and in his first full season made a tremendous splash. He finished second in total points by a rookie behind only MacKinnon, with more goals at even-strength. His minute distribution is highly balanced (28.5% of the time at even-strength, 29% on the power play, and 37% of the time on the penalty kill). Combined with a significantly superior even-strength goals for percentage relative to when he is not on the ice (+15.7% vs. +6.8%), Palat is my pick for the Calder Trophy. - by Brendan Porter


Winner: Ryan O'Reilly

Runners-upTyler SeguinMartin St. Louis

One penalty. One. That's it. (Side note: I somehow happened to be watching the Avs when Ryan O'Reilly committed his one minor penalty). O'Reilly combines a high level of skill with the ability to stay out of the penalty box and avoid controversial hits. In the age of the Shanaban and John Scott, it's refreshing to see players like O'Reilly succeed at a high level with impeccable on-ice behavior.

Tyler Seguin would be a great choice as well and winning the award could go a long way to improving a reputation unfairly destroyed upon his departure from Beantown. Seguin is a pleasure to watch on the ice and should be strongly considered for this award, although he is unlikely to garner much support from Boston writers. The 22-year-old racked up just 18 PIMs this season, 10 of which came from an unfathomable misconduct handed out by everyone's favorite NHL official - Tim Peel.

Opposing viewpoint: Players don't typically want the Lady Byng, but Seguin is a textbook example of a statistical line typically found worthy. His off-ice reputation perpetuated by a petulant and adolescent Boston media was left far, far behind in the trade, and he's been a model citizen and then some in Dallas. Forget that, though - his on-ice behavior is impeccable. His 18 penalty minutes is the fewest among his peers (it is by a WIDE margin the fewest of the top-15 scorers in the NHL) and it was over-inflated due to noted knuckle-head Tim Peel giving him an absurd misconduct late in a recent game. But his age will prevent him from being perceived as gentlemanly, and so this would see like a long shot, deserving though he is. His philanthropic endeavors in Dallas are well documented and the Stars have nominated him for the King Clancy Trophy thanks to his work in the community. - by Brad Gardner of Defending Big D


Winner: Patrick Roy

Runners-up: Mike Babcock, Jon Cooper

While he may not handle penalty shots all that well, Patrick Roy has done a masterful job as coach of the Colorado Avalanche in his first season behind an NHL bench. He took a team that finished no higher than 11th in the Western Conference the past three seasons and helped turn them into Central Division Champions with the third best record in the league. Even after Matt Duchene went down with injury, the Avs continued to excel. The quick turnaround is due in large part to a lot of young guys clicking at the same time and Roy had a lot to do with that.

Mike Babcock is a very close second after being forced to maneuver through a season marred with injuries to top players. The Detroit Red Wings kept their playoff streak alive, relying on more than a few young players to carry the load.

Jon Cooper did a fabulous job as well, keeping his team in the playoff picture after losing his best player to injury and his captain demanding a trade.

Opposing viewpoint: If the Jack Adams award was given to the NHL coach who did the craziest thing during the regular season, Roy would be a shoo-in (with Torts being a close runner up), but no coach succeeded at a tougher challenge then Babcock. His team suffered through injuries to the key pieces of the team and yet he still managed to lead the team to the playoffs. This year, the Red Wings are very similar to the Ottawa Senators of last year - the year that Paul MacLean won the Jack Adams. - by Carl Pavlock


Who takes home the hardware for you? Post your picks in the comment section below.