The 41 game mark. It’s that time of year where many see where we are in our pools and if any of us made good on our pre-season predictions. Let’s be honest, most of us get pre-season forecasts wrong including many from established hockey news outlets. Since all of the NHL teams have played their first 41 games, we can now finally do this report.
Today we’re talking about who would win the trophy’s if the season ended today and who we think will actually win it at the end of the season. Only season rewards without playoff appearances and reiterating accolades
are listed so the Conn Smythe, Lester B. Pearson and Bill Masterton trophys are out.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Johnny Gaudreau
Winner at the end of the season: Marc-Andre Fleury
This is the MVP reward. This trophy, in layman’s terms, goes to the player who can carry their team on his back. Last season, Taylor Hall and Nathan Mackinnon were outstanding and were easy choices as the top 2 candidates with Hall eventually winning. This season, there are no standouts. Many players are having terrific seasons offensively which makes it hard to choose a forward. Johnny Gaudreau is an exemption because he is the main offensive cog for the Flames. He is the best at creating and finishing plays for the team plus his linemates play much better with him as a result of their success. If he goes down with an injury for a significant amount of time, the Flames risk losing their division lead and will be sorely missed in the dressing room by his teammates.
Why Marc-Andre Fleury will win the Hart Trophy at the end of the season is because he has the ability to carry an average scoring team to the playoffs. Vegas started the season poorly but have put together a run to get back into playoff contention. That is all thanks to Fleury. Vegas is 14th in scoring and 4th in goals against, but yet, are 3rd in the West. Vegas does not score many goals and they don’t have a game-changer on both the offensive and defensive side of the ice. Fleury needs to be the backbone of this team to get Vegas over the top and into the playoffs. That is achievable.
Calder Memorial Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Elias Petterson
Winner at the end of the season: Rasmus Dahlin
Petterson has been the best thing to come to Vancouver since sliced bread.
The problem with Petterson is that he is already injury prone. I want to hand the rookie-of-the-year honours to Petterson but he poses a lot of risk in doing so. He’s not very big and has yet to fill out. Dahlin on the other hand has been as steady as they come and he has been a consistent producer for the Sabres. He won rookie of the month honours in November and I don’t doubt that he’ll win another rookie of the month award before seasons end. Dahlin is a safe bet and that’s why he’s the guy to win the Calder.
Winner if season ended today: Marc-Andre Fleury
Winner at the end of the season: Marc-Andre Fleury
No goaltender has gotten close to get as many shutouts or as many wins as Fleury so far this season. He has carried Vegas to a place where they can push for the playoffs once again. Fleury has been so good that Dunkin Donuts is going to need him as a spokesperson because of all of the shutouts (six donuts so far) he’s been getting.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Mark Giordano
Winner at the end of the season: Kris Letang
This was a tough one because there’s a feeling of cognitive dissonance for giving this award to guys who only rack up assists because their star forwards convert the breakout passes into goals. I look at both defensive and offensive stats when it comes to this one and that’s why I chose Mark Giordano (+/- 30, 6G, 34A, 40PTS and 38 HITS 85 BS). Those numbers tell you he’s very well rounded defenceman who can do it all. He’s having a terrific season for the Flames and is on pace for a career best.
Kris Letang, meanwhile, has had an excellent first half for the Penguins after a slow start to their season. With Crosby, Malkin and Kessel playing their best hockey right now, Letang can help jumpstart their offense from the backend much easier now than before. The Penguins have a history of playing great hockey in March and there is no reason why they can’t do it again. Letang is physical and blocks shots at a rate to match the NHL’s best. Another great two way defender who doesn’t get the accolades he deserves.
Art Ross Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Nikita Kucherov
Winner at the end of the season: Connor McDavid
Regardless if the Oilers make the playoffs or not, one thing is for sure. McJesus will score at will. Now that Brandon Manning is sitting in the Oilers press box, Connor won’t have to worry about him breaking his collarbone like he did in his rookie season (Oh how the tides have turned). On a serious note, if McDavid plays all 82 games, he’ll likely beat his previous career best of 108 points and get 120. He’s on pace 134 right now but that’s stretch, even for a guy like him.
Kucherov has been on a tear as of late but I think he’ll settle down near the end of the season.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Sasha Barkov
Winner at the end of the season: Alex Barkov
If you’re wondering if these are different people, they’re not. And he’s Finnish, not Russian.
Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Alex Ovechkin
Winner at the end of the season: Patrik Laine
Ovechkin could be the oldest player to win the Richard trophy at the age 33 unless Patrik Laine stops playing Fortnite until 3.A.M. and actually decides that he wants to score again. That pretty much sums up the situation.
King Clancy Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Brock Boeser
Winner at the end of the season: Brock Boeser
It’ll be hard to top Brock Boeser taking the girl with down syndrome out to a prom date which happened before the season started. He’s definitely a sweetheart.
William Jennings Trophy
Winner if season ended today: Pekka Rinne/Jusse Saros
Winner at the end of the season: Pekka Rinne/Jusse Saros
Pekka Rinne is an absolute brick sh*t house in net. Nashville’s defense is near impassable on most nights and there is no sign of them slowing down. Expect Nashville to be the defensive team of the year.
Winner if season ended today: Tampa Bay Lightning
Winner at the end of the season: Tampa Bay Lightning
To put in perspective on how dominate the Lightning were in the first half, the Lightning could play at .500 from here on in and still have a better chance at winning the President’s Trophy than the Leafs, Flames and Golden Knights.