With the unofficial midway point of the NHL season (All-Star Game) behind us, it’s time to look ahead to the best players in the game by giving some insight on who has the inside track to the league’s most prestigious honors.
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
Leader – David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins)
In The Hunt – Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
Dark Horse – Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers)
Quick Thoughts – The league’s biggest honor goes to the player who was the most valuable to his team’s success during the regular season & nobody has been more important then the league’s top goal scorer on a team who’s extremely reliant on him to do that & much more then Boston’s David Pastrnak.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender)
Leader – Darcy Kuemper (Arizona Coyotes)
In The Hunt – Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins), Ben Bishop (Dallas Stars)
Dark Horse – Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets)
Quick Thoughts – Where on earth would the Arizona Coyotes be without the league leader in Goals Against Average (GAA) & Save %? Not in the hunt for the Playoffs & the owner of the Western Conference’s 2nd Wild Card spot, that’s for-sure. The 29 year old journeyman has been the league’s best goalie this season & he could end up being a long-shot for the Hart Trophy if he keeps this pace up & Arizona makes the Playoffs.
Norris Trophy (Top Defensemen)
Leader – John Carlson (Washington Capitals)
In The Hunt – Roman Josi (Nashville Predators), Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Dark Horse – Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues)
Quick Thoughts – In my opinion, this award is John Carlson’s to lose. Carlson is 3rd in the league in assists & 10th in points. The closest Defensemen to him in both categories is Roman Josi who’s 15th in assists & 23rd in points. It also helps Carlson’s case that the Capitals are currently 1st in the entire NHL in points & the Predators are 5 points behind a playoff berth.
Calder Trophy (Top Rookie)
Leader – Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)
In The Hunt – Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)
Dark Horse – None
Quick Thoughts – This is a 2-horse race between 2 defensemen from 2 surprising current Playoff teams & both are a big reason why. I give Makar the slightest of edges here for the simple reason that he has only 2 less points in 10 less games. Both are nearly identical in EVERY advanced analytic.
Art Ross Trophy (Points Leader)
Leader – Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers), 83 points
In The Hunt – Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), 79 points, David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins), 75 points
Dark Horse – Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins), 68 points
Quick Thoughts – This is a pretty self-explanatory award. No voting or opinions are necessary. Draisaitl is the leader in the clubhouse over his teammate & perennial MVP-candidate in McDavid. You have to always watch out for Boston’s dynamic duo in the league’scurrent top goal scorer, David Pastrnak & his fellow line-mate, playmaker Brad Marchand.
Rocket Richard Trophy (Top Goal Scorer)
Leader – David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins), 38 goals
In The Hunt – Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs), 37 goals, Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), 37 goals
Dark Horse – Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), 29 goals
Quick Thoughts – Pastrnak has been the wire-to-wire leader in goals, this season. But, now that race is closer then ever with Auston Matthews & the usual suspect in Alex Ovechkin on his immediate tail, each only 1-goal behind. These 3 are running away with the top-3 spots, but you can never count out the best player in the league for any ward in Oilers star, Connor McDavid.
It’ll be thrilling to see how the league’s top honors pan-out over the course of the next couple of months as the NHL’s regular season winds down. It’s sure to be fun to watch.
Thanks for reading & let me know who you think will bring home the NHL’s most prestigious honors, this season on Twitter @tvttedwhiteboy!