Calder-eligible Tanner Pearson doing more with less than anyone on the Kings

Ken Campbell
Tanner Pearson (left) and Tyler Toffoli (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It’s a very small sample size, but if Tanner Pearson continues the torrid pace he’s set through the first six games of the season, a replica of the Calder Trophy will be sitting on his mantle next summer.

And this begs two questions. The first is: Why on Earth doesn’t Darryl Sutter play him more? And the second is: Is it fair that Pearson is eligible for the Calder Trophy in the first place? Read more

Top 10 Art Ross Trophy candidates for 2014-15

John Tavares (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

In the 21 seasons between 1980-81 and 2000-01, a total of three players won the NHL scoring championship. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

In the 12 seasons since then, nine players have won it and nobody has taken home the Art Ross Trophy in successive seasons. We at thn.com predict that trend to continue. And if our crystal ball isn’t defective, there will be another first-time winner this season.

With that in mind, here are our top 10 choices for the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15, in descending order. Read more

Transparency, clarity, instancy and Kate Upton: Four ways to fix the NHL Awards

Adam Proteau
Kate Upton

The NHL Awards went off without incident – well, almost without incident – but let’s face it, in terms of entertainment value, the show teeters between polite applause and stunned bemusement. The awards also create more than their share of controversy, and not just in the expected and natural debate about winners and runners-up. And although the NHL Awards are in some ways better than they’ve been in past years, there’s still some work that needs done.

Here are four ways I’d make the NHL Awards better:

1. Full disclosure from vote-casters. As I argued yesterday, compared to the Hockey Hall of Fame Awards, the NHL Awards are a model of transparency. That said, the process could and should benefit from fully embracing transparency and revealing how members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (myself included) voted.

This way, when fans are alarmed to see the voting results include someone casting a second-place Hart Trophy vote for Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist as someone did this year, they can turn to the voter in question and ask he or she to defend their rationale. We might not agree with the explanation, but at least we’d have one.

There’s little hockey writers loathe more than the anonymous cowards who dwell in the comments section, so I don’t know how any of us can continue justifying hiding behind anonymity during the time we cast our ballots.

2. More direct descriptions of awards. As noted above, you’re always going to have fans arguing over which player was most deserving of any award. However, there’s an increasing problem with the voting, and it’s all about subjective interpretation. For instance, for years, some voters have looked at the Hart Trophy in its strictest definition – the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team – and other voters (myself included) have come to see it as the league’s most outstanding player. (The short version why: because value is subjective, whereas “outstanding” allows for a wider breadth of candidates to be considered.)

Similarly, the Norris Trophy (won this year by Hawks blueliner Duncan Keith) has, more often than not in the past three years, gone to a player who was especially proficient at one end of the rink, and not nearly so effective in his own zone. That flies in the face of the description of the honor, which is to be given to the defenseman who possesses “the greatest all-around ability” at the position. That simply wasn’t true with either P.K. Subban or Erik Karlsson, yet they won the Norris in the two years prior to this past season. Something is wrong here.
Read more

NHL Awards voting shows Hockey Hall of Fame selection process needs to change

Adam Proteau
NHL Awards (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

When you watch the NHL Awards tonight, pay attention to one particular aspect: the voting process. It’s transparent – the league releases ballot results after each season’s awards have been presented – and the two candidates in each category who don’t win aren’t devastated or humiliated.

Now contrast that with the voting procedure that decides who will and won’t be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That process makes a papal conclave look like a friendly show-of-hands vote between friends. Every year, the HHOF’s induction committee meets in secret to debate the pros and cons of each candidate – and every year, the public gets no explanation as to why particular choices were made.

Why? Well, the explanation usually goes, players who didn’t make the cut would be embarrassed and upset by being pointed to as unworthy of the honor. But if that’s the case, why does the NHL announce three finalists for each of its individual awards? Surely there’s a letdown for those who don’t win, yet somehow they’re able to soldier on in life.

In other words, this excuse is completely baseless. Read more

What’s missing from the NHL playoffs? More awards, of course

Jason Kay
Stanley Cup Finals - Philadelphia Flyers v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Six

The NHL is not shy when it comes to recognizing its own.

It has annual awards for the most offensive player (Art Ross) and least offensive (Lady Byng). It has four trophies dedicated to players whose main task is to keep opponents from scoring.

It celebrates its best newcomer, the guy who scores the most goals and the one best at leading. The most valuable player on the ice and off ice get hardware to take home. Coaches, GMs and builders in the United States are honored each year.

Heck, even Joes who do nothing more than write about or broadcast the sport are eligible for recognition.

All told, there are 18 individual trophies listed in the NHL Guide and Record Book. Curiously, however, only one of those baubles is dedicated to the playoffs.

Read more

Why Tuukka Rask should win the Vezina Trophy

Tuukka Rask

Like the Calder and Hart Trophies, this year’s Vezina race had too many worthy finalists to fit in the top three. Tuukka Rask, Semyon Varlamov, Ben Bishop and Carey Price all put up numbers good enough to be seriously considered for the award – Price was left as the odd-man out.

Varlamov emerged as a real difference-maker under Patrick Roy and behind a Colorado team that advanced stats suggested didn’t possess the puck enough to hang with division rivals St. Louis and Chicago. Varlamov faced the most shots, made the most saves and, largely because of that performance, the Avs beat out both teams for the division title.

But this Vezina should not be for Varlamov. Read more

Why Martin St-Louis doesn’t deserve the Lady Byng

st-louis

For Ryan O’Reilly to be passed over for the Lady Byng Trophy this season would require members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to blunder almost as badly as they did last year when they made Alexander Ovechkin an first-team all-star at both left and right wing.

O’Reilly plays big minutes – 24th in the league in 5-on-5 ice time per game – against the opponents’ best lines and led the league in takeaways, all the while only getting two penalty minutes this season. In his 72nd game, he broke his stick on a faceoff against Logan Couture and kicked the puck back to his defenseman before being called for playing with a broken stick. O’Reilly led his team in goals, logged more ice time than any other forward on the team and manages to get the puck away from his opponents without going on the wrong side of the rulebook. Read more

Vezina Trophy Watch: Rask pulling away

Tuukka-Rask3

With only a week and change left in the regular season, it’s crunch time for those players with their eyes on individual trophies. In the goaltending department, Boston’s Tuukka Rask managed to usurp Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop over the past month, but can he hang on for the final stretch? Here’s our ranking of the contenders.

1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

With seven shutouts, Rask is the NHL leader in blankings and when you couple that with 34 wins, a 2.04 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, it goes without saying that he owns the pole position when it comes to the Vezina.

Read more