My midseason PHWA awards ballot
The PHWA is happy enough to let us vote on midseason awards. And as somebody they give a membership to, here's who I had on my midseason ballot...
Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid
Being on the East Coast, I swear I don’t appreciate Connor McDavid as much as I should. But you watch this guy and he’s just almost completely unguardable. Match your fastest skater up on him and he’ll make them look like a five-year-old enjoying his first skate without milk crates. If Edmonton makes the playoffs, it’ll be on McDavid’s back.
2nd: David Pastrnak: I think Pastrnak has proven to be more than just a beneficiary of playing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Look at his impact on the B’s this year and you’ll see why he deserves legitimate consideration in the Hart discussion.
3rd: Jack Eichel: The Sabres really are the Jack Eichel Show. Just watch ‘em and you’ll see. (If I could redo this one, I’d probably lean Alex Ovechkin, but that’s the beauty of midseason awards.)
Norris Trophy: John Carlson
Traditionalists will argue about this award until they’re blue in the face. I know some NHL defensemen who hate that this award has essentially become best offensive defenseman, but it’d be impossible to give this midseason award to anybody other than Capitals defender John Carlson. With 60 points through 49 games this season, Carlson ranks 10th among all NHL players in production. He has 12 points more than the Predators’ Roman Josi and he’s currently paced for an absurd 100-point season. As a defenseman. That hasn’t happened since Brian Leetch in 1991-92. That’s Norris worthy.
2nd: Dougie Hamilton: I obviously submitted this ballot before Hamilton suffered a gruesome leg injury. But the point remains: Dougie had been phenomenal for the ‘Canes this season.
3rd: Victor Hedman: If I were building a franchise tomorrow and had to start on the backend, Victor Hedman would probably be my guy. Just the complete package as a defenseman.
Calder Trophy: Cale Makar
Just an unbelievably fun player to watch, and I really can’t remember a rookie defender who’s been as dominant and impactful as Makar has when the Avs are going. Colorado has an absolute gem here.
2nd: Quinn Hughes: Probably not the Hughes you expected to see on a Calder ballot this season.
3rd: Ilya Samsonov: This kid is gonna be why Braden Holtby leaves Washington in 2020.
Selke Trophy: Ryan O’Reilly
The St. Louis pivot has won a league-best 612 faceoffs (13 more than the second-place Bo Horvat), and O’Reilly’s 56.9 faceoff percentage is third among centers with at least 800 faceoffs this season. He’s also won 77 shorthanded faceoffs for a Blues group in the top half of the league in PK%.
2nd: Sean Couturier: The Philly forward is winning almost 60 percent of his d-zone draws.
3rd: Patrice Bergeron: Games played, or lack thereof, are once again holding Bergeron back from the top two spots here, in my opinion. Still not many players taking a crucial draw more than No. 37.
Vezina Trophy: Tuukka Rask
The 32-year-old Rask has saved over 13 goals above average during all-situation play, and has posted an .858 high-danger save percentage. There’s been far too many nights where No. 40 was far and away the Black and Gold’s best player, and subject to an absolute shooting gallery.
2nd: Connor Hellebuyck: The Jets went through what felt like a Thanos-ing of their blue line, but Connor Hellebucyk has remained the backbone that’s given them a chance on a nightly basis.
3rd: Ben Bishop: I will go to my grave saying that Ben Bishop is one of the most underappreciated goaltenders of our era. The 6-foot-7 Bishop has been the 6-foot-7 Bishop once again this season, too, with 16 wins and a .927 save percentage in 31 starts for Dallas this season.
Lady Byng Trophy: Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Vlasic has taken just two penalties in over 1,000 minutes of play this season. That’s insanity.
2nd: Jaccob Slavin
3rd: Cam Atkinson
Jack Adams Award: Mike Sullivan
You look at this lineup the Penguins have iced at times this season, as well as some of their roster holes and injury problems (they lost the best player in the world for almost 30 games), and it makes no sense that these Penguins have been as good as they’ve been. Sullivan deserves a ton of credit.
2nd: Rick Tocchet
3rd: Sheldon Keefe: The Leafs have the sixth-most points in hockey since making the switch to Sheldon Keefe, and they also rank No. 1 in goals per game and power-play percentage.
GM of the Year Award: John Chayka
Adding Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall in under a year’s time. I will always back the GM who knows when it’s time to take chances. John Chayka is certainly that man.
2nd: Joe Sakic
3rd: Doug Armstrong
Rod Langway Award: Jaccob Slavin
This award is designed to go to the best defensive defender in the NHL, and rather than simply give it to the player with the most hits and blocks, I wanted to give it to somebody who excels in both areas. Basically like my approach to the Norris. So I went with Slavin. He's probably one of my favorite players to watch on a night-in, night-out basis, and he does so many little things well.
2nd: Seth Jones
3rd: Brandon Carlo
Comeback Player of the Year Award: William Nylander
After contract disputes kept him out of action for the first few months of 2018-19, and led to a truly disjointed season, William Nylander has taken flight and been one of Toronto’s best forwards.
2nd: Andrei Svechnikov.
3rd: Anders Bjork: The versatile Bjork has turned into Boston’s fourth or fifth-best winger after back-to-back season-ending shoulder surgeries.
Ty Anderson is a writer, columnist, and weird personality for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, where he covers all things Boston sports. He has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, and has also been part of the Boston Chapter of the PHWA since 2013. He will not give you his email, so yell at him on Twitter (@_TyAnderson).