We had the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame class unveiled, and now we have moved on to the next big event of the NHL offseason. I speak, of course, of the NHL awards. Last year, they didn’t get to have that big, fancy, ridiculous award show in Las Vegas due to the lockout, but this year they were back in business. However, that’s not what is important. What matters is who won, and even that is only marginally important.
First, let’s just get right to it, and let you know Ryan O’Reilly won the Lady Byng. He only had two penalty minutes even though he played a bunch. That is very good. Bob Murray won GM of the Year, and Patrick Roy won the Jack Adams for coach of the year. These kind of awards are harder to truly delineate, especially coach of the year. Roy won because the Colorado Avalanche were the surprise team of the NHL. However, he also seemed to do a good job with young guys and he and his staff seemed to help Semyon Varlamov and Roy has helped popularize pulling your goalie early, so I’m for this. Remember when we were making jokes about Roy, and then he got in that shouting match in, I believe, his first game behind the bench for the Avalanche? That feels like forever ago.
Now for some of the more notable awards. Patrice Bergeron won the Selke for best defensive forward. He is known for being great on defense, and he had a fine season. Anze Kopitar came in second, and the two of them have really similar numbers in terms of advanced stats. You can’t really go wrong with either of them. Nathan MacKinnon won the Calder for rookie of the year. That was a given, he was the best rookie, and also he was the first overall draft pick, as opposed to other finalists who have AHL experience and such.
Tuukka Rask won the Vezina. He had the best save percentage, and the best even strength SV%. He definitely should have won. I was a little worried Semyon Varlamov’s win total might sway some folks, but fortunately it didn’t. Duncan Keith ran away with the Norris, which is a bit surprising. I mean, you can make the case for him. He was second in points, with 61, but only six of them were goals. Erik Karlsson, meanwhile, had 74 points, 20 of them goals, and Karlsson also had more shots and drew four more penalties than he took, while Keith drew six less. Karlsson was also better in Corsi percentage, 12th to Keith’s 14th. Keith was a bit better in Fenwick for, and, admittedly, a lot better in shots for percentage, although Karlsson’s 53.5% rating is more than fine, and was 30th best in the league. On the other hand, Drew Doughty was better than Keith in all of these. Karlsson also played against tougher competition. He finished seventh in the voting. Maybe Keith wins, but Karlsson needed to be in the top three.
The Norris was the most competitive award. The Hart was not a surprise. Sidney Crosby won it, as we all expected. He also won the Ted Lindsey and the Art Ross, the latter we already knew of many moons ago, of course. Crosby handily beat the runner up Ryan Getzlaf. Varlamov finished fourth, while Rask didn’t finish in the top 10. So, basically, I put less stock into the Hart voters than the Vezina voters, though I do still think they gave it to the best guy. Crosby had 105 points, with Getzlaf finished in second with 87. That is significant. He finished with a better faceoff percentage than Getzlaf too. He was also fifth in shots for percentage, and one of the guys above him was Chris Kunitz, which was largely influenced by Crosby, I imagine. He was also 10th in quality of competition. Basically, Crosby is great. Don’t let anybody point to the playoffs and tell you otherwise.
OK. That little bit of fun is over now. It’s time to get prepared for the NHL Draft, and likely some trades.