Hi, y’all! It’s time to discuss everyone’s favorite thing that does not matter and only makes us mad!
Pro sports individual awards! Which are normally dumb, but are doubly so when they’re just subjective opinions based only on the first half of the season.
What fun! Let’s go!
Winner: Nathan Mackinnon – Colorado Avalanche
If I had to guess which award I think is most likely to shift significantly at any moment, it would be this one. If MacKinnon’s form slips even a little bit and Colorado misses the playoffs, he may find himself outside the finalists, much less winning the award.
His play since the Duchene trade has been otherworldly and he is single-handedly dragging the Avalanche to relevance. He’s always been good, but it feels like now he’s blooming into the star we all envisioned he would be when he was drafted in 2013.
Winner: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning
Full disclosure: I am a Lightning fan, but let’s be honest, barring a stunning collapse, this team is collecting at least one piece of individual hardware this season. This one is my guess.
If I had to pick an award where my guess is just plum wrong (based on projecting what the voters will do), this would also be it. Largely because history has shown that the Vezina ends up being, in practice, an award for a great goalie on a shitty team. Despite his lapping the field in nearly all statistical categories, the case against Vasy is simple and pretty compelling. He isn’t, or at least, doesn’t appear to be single-handedly dragging his team into the playoffs. However, the numbers are simply outstanding for the young Russian netminder. If he doesn’t win it this year, all signs point to at LEAST one or two of them in the next 15 years.
Winner: Matt Barzal – New York Islanders
Tavares and Bailey are having career years, Eberle is enjoying quite the resurgence but the biggest story out of Long Island is easily the play of rookie Matt Barzal. To be honest, however, if I could just call this a tie with Brock Boeser in Vancouver I would do that. I literally flipped a coin for this column. If you value goals, Boeser is your guy, if you think a decent points lead is a big deal, go Barzal. Either way, both have more than valid claims for this trophy.
Jack Adams Trophy
Winner: Gerard Gallant – Vegas Golden Knights
Simple enough, moving on.
Winner: Drew Doughty – LA Kings
Simple equation: Can voters justify not voting for Karlsson? Yes? Doughty wins. I don’t want to rip on him though. He really is having a much better season than the last few. But his 2016 Norris was easily the biggest robbery in the history of these dumb things. Yeah he had a great year but Erik Karlsson had a HISTORIC offensive season. He had the highest scoring season by a defenseman since…. okay I’m done.
Tough call however, as I think Hedman has a good shot at it this year now that we have learned his knee injury only sidelined him for 5 games.
Lady Byng Trophy
Dumb fake award, not even going to bother. Probably Gaudreau though.
Winner: Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins
Simple equation: Is Patrice Bergeron playing? Yes? He wins. This one is less of a glib jab at the voters than the Doughty joke above. Bergeron is just that good.
Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Brian Boyle – New Jersey Devils
Tough year for Steven Stamkos who would likely have this one all wrapped up if there wasn’t a guy who literally missed games due to cancer treatments during the beginning of the season. I’ve seen an odd number of midsession awards that have Stamkos over Boyle in this category, and I promise this isn’t just me following some “only one Lightning player” rule, I just don’t see Stamkos beating a cancer survivor for this award. History has shown that cancer survival is a great resume for Comeback Player.