Top 10 Norris candidates: Letang the leader?

Kris Letang (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Year in and year out, one of the most heavily debated awards is the Norris Trophy.

The award given to the NHL’s most outstanding defenseman has, in recent years, had a tendency not to go simply to the best defenseman, but rather the one with the most points. At times, it feels as though the trophy should be split in two, with one award going to the defenseman with the most points and another to the best overall defenseman.

However, in our ranking of the top 10 Norris candidates, we did our best to take into account all facets of defense in hopes it gave us a true picture of the Norris race. By using the standard statistics like points, average ice time and shorthanded time on ice – a key defensive situation – mixed with advanced statistics like Corsi for, quality of competition, and defensive zone starts, the things that can help tell us which players are driving play and not just benefitting from sheltered minutes.

There are a few surprises, but for the most part, it’s the usual suspects. Read more

Top 10 Vezina candidates of 2014-15: Rinne rules

Pekka Rinne (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Goaltending can make or break a team’s season. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers, who for years have looked promising but have been unable to secure a goaltender to give them the big save they need.

You won’t find either Oilers goaltender, Ben Scrivens or Viktor Fasth, on this list of the top 10 Vezina candidates. Nor will you find Michael Hutchinson, who currently leads the league in save percentage and is second in goals-against average. The reason being Hutchinson just hasn’t had the workload, and including his numbers also put goaltenders like Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and injured St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott into the conversation.

Instead, many familiar faces are among the contenders, though not a single one has won the Vezina in their career. Read more

Top 10 Calder Trophy candidates: Can anyone catch Filip Forsberg?

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There’s been no shortage of great stories this season, but one of the most surprising things is the cast of rookies who have quickly made names for themselves in the league.

The thing with rookies is they’re one of the most difficult groups of players to accurately forecast. With little known about how well adjusted they’ll be to the NHL, they can either boom or bust, and in some cases an injury or unfavorable situation can send the early Calder Trophy favorite to the bottom of the ballot.

Take Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, for instance, who some people thought would run away with the award but doesn’t even appear on our list. Or John Gibson, the THN consensus pick for the Calder, who had a shot at leading the Ducks this season before injury derailed his season.

These are the top 10 Calder Candidates at this point in the season: Read more

Filip Forsberg due to fall off, but Predators fans shouldn’t be worried

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To this point in the season, there’s little arguing that Filip Forsberg has been one of most shocking stories. The centerpiece of a deal that brought Martin Erat to the Washington Capitals from the Nashville Predators, Forsberg looks to be blossoming before our very eyes.

And while he continues to produce at an alarming rate, there remains a certain skepticism about his ability to keep it up. Could the Capitals really have traded away an early Calder candidate for a player they would jettison just eight months after his arrival in the US capital? Is this a deal Washington will forever regret? Read more

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.
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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