Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Forman Faceoff - 2015/2016 NHL Quarter-Season Awards

The 2015/16 NHL Season is officially past the quarter mark, and with that in mind it's time to recognize the players that have made an impact so far this season. The Forman Faceoff looks at the Leader and Finalists for most of the NHL Awards, as well as some additional awards from me, at the quarter mark of the season:

Hart Trophy:

1. Patrick Kane - What more can you say about Showtime? Kane leads all players in points (37), assists (23) and is 2nd to Jamie Benn (18) with 14 goals. He was the biggest story of the NHL offseason for all the wrong reasons with the alleged rape, but since being cleared of any wrongdoings he has been unstoppable on the ice for the Blackhawks. The biggest surprise with Kane has been his instant chemistry with new linemates Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov, a line that has been one of the best in the NHL early on. To build his case even further, Kane is currently on a 19 game point streak with 11 goals and 20 assists, as well as a 7-game goal streak during the point streak. His 19-game streak is now the longest scoring streak by an American-born player in NHL history. He has been held pointless in just 2 of 24 games this season, and looks well on his way to winning the scoring race.

2. Jamie Benn - The Stars Captain has been an absolute force dating back to the end of last season, where he has 57 points in his last 35 games. Benn has an NHL-leading 18 goals on the season, as well as 17 assists to put him in 2nd with 35 points. Easily one of the best players in the NHL, Benn and linemate Tyler Seguin have been unstoppable and are pacing the Stars to a Western Conference-leading 19-5-0 so far. If it weren't for the play of Patrick Kane, Benn would be getting serious consideration for the top spot right now. The reigning Art Ross Trophy-winner is going to push Kane all season, don't be surprised if he repeats again this year.

3. Henrik Lundqvist - While Kane and Benn have certainly been impressive offensively, Lundqvist has been that good (if not better) in goal for the Rangers this season. I had a hard time picking between Kane/Benn/Lundqvist for the top spot, but I felt that both Kane/Benn are having their best starts in each of their respective careers. With that being said, Lundqvist has been nothing short of spectacular for the 16-6-2 Rangers this season. He is 12-5-1 with an 2.05 Goals Against Average and .936 Save Percentage. The Rangers are among the best defensive teams in the NHL, and a big reason of their early season success is the play of King Henrik in net. Still chasing his first Stanley Cup, Lundqvist is off to one of his best starts of his NHL career.

Vezina Trophy:

1. Henrik Lundqvist - As mentioned above, Lundqvist has been the NHL's best goalie so far this season. He is 12-5-1 with an 2.05 Goals Against Average and .936 Save Percentage (all 2nd in the NHL). King Henrik hasn't won the award since the 2011/12 season, but he is the early favourite this year.

2. Braden Holtby - Pushing Lundqvist in the Vezina race is Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. He is 15-4-0 with a 1.95 Goals Against Average and a .926 Save Percentage (1st in the NHL in Wins and GAA). The Caps have been one of the most impressive teams in the NHL this season at 17-5-1, and Holtby has been a big part of this.

3. Carey Price - The reigning Vezina Candidate and early-season choice for this year's award is currently out with a leg inury. If he were healthy, he would be pushing Lundqvist and Holtby for top spot, but for now I'll keep him at 3. Price is 10-2-0 with a 2.06 Goals Against Average and a .934 Save Percentage.

Norris Trophy:

1. Erik Karlsson - The reigning and two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is off to another fantastic start this season. Karlsson has 5 goals, 21 assists for 26 points in 23 games (2nd in points by defenseman to Klingberg). Karlsson logs an incredible 27:01 time on ice per game, the 4th most in the NHL. Dating back the last 3 seasons, Karlsson has 46 goals, 120 assists for 166 points in 187 games, the most by any defenseman during the stretch. He is definitely the favourite for the Norris.

2. Brent Burns - Burns has been one of the better offensive defenseman the last few seasons, but he has been a difference-maker this season taking his game to new levels. Burns has 9 goals, 11 assists for 20 points in 22 games (the most goals by a defenseman in the NHL). Burns logs 26:23 time on ice per game, the 6th most in the NHL. What's even crazier about Burns is he's producing like a forward, with an incredible 102 shots on net which is tied for 2nd most in the NHL (Ovechkin 118, Hall 102). Look for Burns to continue to push Karlsson in the Norris Trophy race, he certainly has my vote.

3. John Klingberg - The sleeper on this list, John Klingberg has been perhaps the best defenseman in the NHL so far this season. He leads all defenseman with 27 points, 5 goals and 22 assists in 24 games. What's more impressive about Klingberg is his production at such a young age (23), he had only played 65 NHL in his career before this season (11 goals, 29 assists for 40 points in 65 games in 2014/15). The Dallas Stars are off to an incredible start at 19-5-0, and Klingberg has been a huge part of this offensive surge. It remains to be seen if Klingberg can keep this pace up, but he has definitely entered Norris Trophy talk.

Honourable Mention: Drew Doughty - How has this guy not won a Norris Trophy already? The truth is they need to make 2 separate awards; best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman. Doughty has just 2 goals and 12 points in 23 games this season, but it's the little things he does that makes him so good. He plays 27:09 minutes a game, 2nd most in the NHL. While statistically he isn't having as good of a year as the guys above, he deserves to be in this conversation every year.

Calder Trophy:

1. Artemi Panarin - The "Bread Man" as Joel Quenneville calls him, Panarin has lived up to big expectations from his previous success in the KHL. He has 7 goals, 16 assists for 23 points in 24 games to lead all rookies in points. Perhaps what has been most impressive about Panarin has been his instant chemistry with new linemates Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. The trio has been amongst the best lines in the NHL so far this season. Panarin was my Calder Trophy pick before the season, going to be interesting to watch down the stretch.

2. Max Domi - As good as Panarin has been, so has Max Domi in Arizona. Domi has 8 goals, 12 assists for 20 points in 23 games, and has been a big part of the resurgence of the Arizona Coyotes. Domi has had great chemistry with fellow rookie Anthony Duclair, look for him to be in conversation for the award all season.

3. Dylan Larkin - Dylan Larkin has been fantastic for the Detroit Red Wings, another blue-chip prospect drafted by Ken Holland that looks like the real deal. Larkin has a rookie-leading 10 goals, 8 assists for 18 points in 24 games. With the Red Wings continuing to build for the future with their youth, Larkin will be a key piece for them going forward. Look for him to keep his name in this race all season.

Honourble Mention: Connor McDavid - It's hard to argue that McDavid was the best rookie in the NHL before breaking his collarbone. He scored 5 goals, 7 assists for 12 points in 13 games before his injury, and would be at the front of this race if he hadn't been hurt. It will be interesting to see what he does when he returns from injury. This is one of the deepest rookie classes in a long time, with guys such as Jack Eichel, Colton Parayko, Anthony Duclair, Nikolaj Ehlers etc.

Jack Adams Trophy:

1. Lindy Ruff - What a job Lindy Ruff has done with the Dallas Stars this season, a Western Conference best 38 points (19-5-0) 2nd only to the Canadiens (39 points) in the NHL. Ruff has the Stars offense scoring in bunches, with 85 goals in 24 games. He is the early-season favourite for the award.

2. Barry Trotz - Trotz is such a consistent Coach that he could be nominated every year, but he has the Capitals playing some of the best hockey in the Ovechkin era right now. The Caps are 17-5-1 with 35 points, good for 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Trotz has the Caps in position for a deep Stanley Cup run, and he's an early favourite for the award too.

3. Mike Babcock - Babcock deserves a ton of credit for being on my list here, a guy coaching one of the worst teams in the NHL. But the fact of the matter is Babcock has done wonders for the Maple Leafs in his first season, the team is actually playing with structure and despite a limited roster is playing quality hockey. Look for Babcock to get more consideration for the Award if the Leafs move up the standings.

Breakout Player:

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov
- Entering his 2nd full NHL season, Kuznetsov has been spectacular for the Capitals so far. Kuznetsov had 11 goals and 37 points in 80 games during his rookie season, but he has looked like a completely different player with 8 goals, 18 assists for 26 points in 23 games this season. Kuznetsov has been a force at all ends of the ice, including 2 OT goals during the new and exciting 3 on 3 OT. It will be interesting to see how his production continues throughout the season.

2. John Klingberg - Equally impressive has been emerging star John Klingberg, who leads all defenseman with 27 points (5th in the NHL in points). Klingberg has been a force offensively but has also made big strides defensively this season, something that will help him blossom into an elite two-way defenseman. It will be interesting to see if he can keep this crazy scoring pace up the rest of the season, if he can we might see someone push Karlsson for the scoring lead by defenseman.

3. Martin Jones - The Sharks have started off to an impressive 14-9-0 start, and a big part of their early season success has been goaltender Martin Jones. Jones is 12-6-0 with a 2.13 Goals Against Average and a .925 Save Percentage. Jones had never started more than 19 games in a season in his career, but he has already started 19 this season. It will be interesting to see how his stats fair after a full season as a starting goaltender.

Most Disappointing Player:

1. Jakub Voracek - Voracek had a career year last season with 81 points in 82 games. He followed that up by signing an 8-year, $66 million extension this summer. However, Voracek has had a very rough start to the season with just 1 goal and 12 assists in 24 games. The Flyers have not looked good under new Head Coach Dave Hakstol, and Voracek's lack of production is a big reason.

2. Sidney Crosby - The best player on the planet just hasn't looked like himself this season, a guy usually guarenteed to be a point-per-game player just hasn't been that so far. Sid has scored just 5 goals and 15 points in 23 games this season, well under the pace he has been putting up the last few seasons. Something has to give for Sid, who is on a season-best 5 game point streak.

3. Nick Foligno - Another guy who had a breakout year last season, Foligno had a career-high 31 goals and 73 points in 79 games. He was named Captain of the Blue Jackets this summer, and he looked ready for another big year. However, Columbus has looked horrible this season and has already seen Todd Richards fired for John Tortorella. Foligno has just 1 goal and 10 points in 25 games this season and hasn't looked at all like the player he was last season.

Comeback Player:

1. David Krejci - Injuries limited David Krejci to just 47 games last season, a big reason why the Bruins missed the playoffs. With a changing Bruins roster it remained to be seen how Krejci would return, but he has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Krejci has 9 goals, 15 assists for 24 points in 22 games (including 3 game-winning goals) and has been a big part of the Bruins early season success.

2. Bobby Ryan - It has been a difficult few years for Bobby Ryan since scoring 31 goals in the 2011/2012 season. He has had a difficult time finding his scoring touch in Ottawa, scoring just 41 goals in his first 2 seasons in Ottawa. He didn't have a terrible year last season, with 18 goals and 54 points in 78 games, but he wasn't a difference maker. Fast-forward to this season, and Bobby Ryan has been just that for the Senators, with 8 goals and 21 points in 23 games. It remains to be seen if Ryan can keep it up going forward.

3. Mats Zuccarello - Perhaps one of the scariest injuries of last season was Mats Zuccarello fracturing his skull during the playoffs courtesy of a slapshot to the head from Ryan McDonagh. Zuccarello reported couldn't speak for 4 days, had blood in his brain and lost feeling in his arm (scary stuff). One only wondered if Zuccarello would be able to ever play hockey again, but flash forward to this season and Zuccarello has been on fire. In 24 games this season, Mats has 10 goals and 21 points, both team-highs for the Rangers. His career-high for goals is 19 (2013/14), but with 10 goals in 24 games he is well on pace to break 20 goals this season.

Rocket Richard Trophy:
1. Jamie Benn - 18 goals
2. Patrick Kane - 14 goals
3. Vladimir Tarasenko - 14 goals

Art Ross Trophy:
1. Patrick Kane - 37 points
2. Jamie Benn - 35 points
3. Tyler Seguin - 34 points

Selke Trophy:
1. Jonathan Toews
2. Anze Kopitar
3. Ryan O'Reilly

Mark Messier Leadership Award:
1. Jamie Benn
2. Jonathan Toews
3. Ryan Getzlaf

General Manager of the Year Award:
1. Jim Nill - Dallas Stars
2. Marc Bergevin - Montreal Canadiens
3. Brian MacLellan - Washington Capitals

Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff

No comments:

Post a Comment