NHL Individual Awards – Half Season Assessment (aka HABNRAMDCWITWWA)

I accept defeat, I accept the fact that I will not be able to update this blog as regularly as I hoped. Thus I have officially changed the name of this blog to “Random Rumblings”. Which I feel is a more accurate description of how often it is updated.

With that out of the way. I was planning on posting this big beautiful blog post during the NHL All Star game weekend. But in typical random fashion (see, it didn’t take long for the name to come in handy) – it did not get completed in time. Luckily with a few minor changes and some additional rumblings, it is now completed and ready for your reading pleasure.

The NHL All Star game typically represents the mid point of the season. As a result, we are inundated with numerous bloggers and pundits giving out their “mid season” awards that mean absolutely nothing since there is literally half a season left to be played. Never one to strive for uniqueness or glory, we at Random Rumblings Inc, will simply follow the masses and put out the first ever Halfling Award Extravaganza. Thus revealing how little we value our own picks and what geeks we are for naming our awards after David Desharnais Bilbo Baggins. (On a side note, I keep saying “we” because while one would assume I manage this awesome and consistently updated blog myself. I actually have a team of 23 people who help keep this site humming at a breakneck speeds)(If you believed that …than you must be the same person who thinks having one player from each team on the All Star game is a good idea.)(Yes, that means you’re an idiot.)

bilboholcey

So just to be clear this is not really an awards post as I’m simply breaking down the awards race, and eventually determining who I think will win the award….yes the name is misleading, but the truth is I also misled myself. I started writing this with the intention of giving out a mid season award…and then just ended up basically rambling for 2300 words instead. (Yes, I’m also an idiot)

Because I know how much you all love my long, long…long posts, I wanted to add as much crap into one blog entry as possible. (Since I probably won’t update the blog again till March…2016.) I will also rank – on a scale of 1 to 5 Bilbos – how likely the player I choose ends up winning the award (1 being not likely, and 5 being a shoo-in) and I will also provide a true, out of no where, dark horse per award. Finally….since this is a Habs blog, I will discuss which players on the Habs will win the “equivalent” award within the confines of the team.

In the immortal words of the Joker (geek alert #2) “… here we go…”

(Before continuing I have to note that I forgot to break down the Calder, which goes to the rookie of the year. Let’s just say it’s going to Filip Forsberg. With props given out to Aaron Ekblad.)

The Rocket Richard Trophy:

This looks like it’s boiling down to a five horse race between Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and one of the most underrated players in the league –  Joe Pavelski.

Winner: Steven Stamkos – while he’s having a great season, and Tampa Bay has a deep team that has the best shot at winning the East. He still hasn’t gone on a real tear – I can see him going on a second half scoring binge and separating himself from the pack.

One Bilbo: All that said, this is as tight a race as we’ve had in years, especially when you factor in Nash’s reemergence and Seguin emergence as goal scoring dynamos. Finally you can’t discount number 8 – hard to bet against Ovechkin when it comes to goal scoring.

Dark Horse: Tomas Tatar – he’s been a ripping it up lately and is 9 goals off the lead with 22 total. Furthermore he’s playing for the Red Wings, who are the home made chocolate chip cookies of the NHL – always good, never disappoint. I also just wanted to say his name, which I always pronounce “Tartar”. (You know you do it too)

Habs Top Goal Scorer: Max Pacioretty – I was tempted to go with Max Pacioretty as the dark horse, but is he? He finished 6th last year and top ten again this year. Regardless, he’s got this category locked up as far as the Habs leading goal scorer. If I was also giving out Bllbos on the Habs category, he’d have 86387 Bilbos, and all of them would have been given super soldier serum. (geek alert #3)

Art Ross Trophy:

Hands up if you had Jakob Voracek as the league leader in points at the half way point of the season. Now hands down if you’re a compulsive liar. Hands down if you’re Jakob Voracek’s mother. If you do, by some miracle, still have your hand up, you should immediately forward your CV to the Toronto Maple Leafs because you’re a hockey psychic, and they will hire anyone. There are ten guys within 10 points of Voracek, including a pair of recent Art Ross winners, who’s lives are narrated by Morgan Freeman. As well as, noted point demons: Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin and Tyler Johnson…wait what?? Ugh TB really is that good eh? (cue Habs fans sadly nodding their heads before they burst out in evil maniacal laughter and rip their clothes’ off to reveal Carey Price themed unitards.)

Winner: Jakob Voracek – Crosby and Malkin have had injury issues, which may hold them back. Giroux may have the best shot, but the dynamic with him and Voracek is pretty consistent which leads me to believe he will be slightly behind him for the rest of the season.

Two Bilbos: Like the Rocket race – this is to tight to call. Kane and Seguin have a great shot but play in a much more difficult conference, and you can’t ignore Sid the Kid, who’s more than capable of going on sustained stretches of brilliance.

Dark Horse: Steven Stamkos – is it even possible to call Stamkos a dark horse? He sits 12 points back, and as mentioned above, he has yet to go on a real crazy scoring binge.

Habs Top Point Getter: Maybe Max Pacioretty – It ultimately boils down to Pacioretty, P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec, with an outside chance going to Alex Galchenyuk. P.K. has come on strong lately, as the power play has finally found it’s footing. Galchenyuk, even at the age of 20, is probably the most talented forward on the roster, but does not get enough playing time…so I’m going with Pacioretty on this one. He’s the Habs’ best even strength player, gets ample PP time, and should finish on top in goals and total points.

Frank J. Selke Tropy:

They should really rename this award the Bob Gainey award, since it was literally created to honor him given that his defensive prowess did not always show up in the stat sheet. They should be careful in renaming the award however, since they would run risk that the award would then trade Ryan McDonagh to the New York Rangers for Scott Gomez… … …Let’s move on.

Top defensive forward in the NHL typically doesn’t have much turn over, as there have been 8 multiple time winners in the trophy’s 32 year history. In more recent years it’s sort of been given to the best “two way player” as winners tend have had some impressive point totals to go along with solid +/-.

Winner: Jonathan Toews – with perennial contender Patrice Bergeron having gone through some early season struggles, there is no clear cut favorite this year. Chicago is still tops among the league leaders in goals against and they do it without the help of a top 5 goaltender. Toews hits all the hot buttons; he is an elite scorer, solid face-off man, and great penalty killer.

Four Bilbos: There is a lot of hockey yet to be played, but let’s face it…what warm blooded Canadian hockey fan doesn’t love Toews. I think I go to bed every night and pray my son grows up to be Jonathan Toews. The NHL needs to a find a way to honor this guy, and the Selke trophy is the perfect award.

Dark horse: I just claimed that I want my son to grow to be Jonathan Toews! There is no dark horse, there is only Toews.

Habs Best Defensive Forward: Tomas Plekanec – This one is a no brainer; Plekanec will probably get consideration for the Selke. Pleks remains the Habs’ best two way player, main penalty killer, and is great face off guy. He also wears a teenage mutant ninja turtle neck and shall be called Plekanardo from here on out.

Plekanecturtle

James Norris Memorial Trophy:

The Norris has bounced around various players the last few years. But is generally an award that features the same contenders every year and has some impressive multiple time winners. This year we should also see new players garner some consideration. If the season ended today you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that Mark Giordano and Ken Shattenkirk didn’t deserve to be two of the nominees.

Winner: Shea Webber – in a year where there could be as many as 7 legitimate contenders for the award. I’m going with Shea Weber given that he plays for one of the best defensive teams in the league, he’s top 5 in TOI and +/-. He’s top ten in points and goals for defensemen. Finally, he was recruited by the Avengers to stop Ultron by shooting a puck at his face. (Geek alert #4)

Half a Bilbo: If the Flames make the playoffs, I’d be tempted to say that Mark Giordano would be the odds on favorite to win it, but the Flames are definitely not guaranteed a spot in the rough and tough West. Add in names like Duncan Keith, Ken Shattenkirk, Drew Doughty, P.K. Subban, and Erik Karlsson and this should probably be -3 Bilbos.

Dark Horse: No one – Given all the real contenders there just isn’t room for a true dark horse, so I’ll mention the name of one my favorite players in the NHL who is a tremendous defenceman but plays for the lowly Arizona Coyotes. Oliver Elkman-Larsson-Awesome. OK so I added the “awesome” but this guy is the real deal, and does not get enough recognition.

Habs Best Defenseman: P.K. Subban – I mentioned that P.K. Subban will probably be in the mix when it comes to the Norris conversation. He’s improved in the defensive zone, and his offensive game remains one of the best in the league from the blue line. Furthermore, unlike some of the other contenders P.K. has very little help in terms of carrying the load. Andrei Markov is an ageless wonder, but once you get by those two- the Habs’ blue line is dangerously thin. As a result, P.K. Is one of the most valuable defenseman in the league, as the Habs are a substantially worse possession team when he’s not on the ice.

Vezina Trophy:

Between 1990 and 2010 only 10 goalies were awarded the trophy, and most of those goalies showed up as multiple nominees. Sure there was that one year Jim Carey quit acting and played goalie for the Capitals in preparation for a big movie role, but the part went Jean Claude Van Dame who saved the day in Pittsburgh. Over the last 3 years we’ve seen 3 different winners, and two of those are in the running again. King Henrik Lundqvist who maybe the most consistent goalie of our generation, and Tukka Rask, who despite a slow start, he has really come on strong as of late. I’d also love to give a shout out to everyones lovable undersized goalie: Jaroslav Halak . But let’s face it this season boils down to two netminders who have not won the award yet: Carey Price and Pekka Rinne.

Winner: Carey Price – HOMER ALERT…but not really. While there is no doubt this is a Habs blog; my choice of Carey Price is echoed by various non Montreal based pundits, as well as opposing coaches. Furthermore various advanced stat articles have laid claim to Price’s dominance this year beyond the usual numbers.

3.5 Bilbos: Barring huge run by Rask (which is possible) – it’s coming down to Price vs. Rinne.The biggest hurdle for Rinne is staying healthy, he’s already missed the last few weeks with a knee injury.

Dark Horse: Branden Holtby – There are a few dark horse candidates, specifically Branden Holtby who has really bounced back after a down year to be top 7 in wins, GAA, SV%, and shutouts.

Habs best Goaltender: Dustin Tokarski. Just kidding. Halak? Oh yeah this guy…

IMG00022-20100327-1900CP

Hart Memorial Trophy:

This is officially the MVP award of the NHL. As with other MVP awards it is often difficult to assess who should really win this award. Is it the best player in the league? Or the player most valuable to his team. Typcally this award goes to a high scoring forward who plays for a playoff team. In fact over the last 30 years only one defenseman has won the award, and two goalies (with Dominik Hasek winning it twice in back to back years.) This year no forward has really separated themselves offensively, I counted up to ten legit candidates at forward. Such widespread attention, has left the door open again for a goaltender to sneak in, and two in particular have been staking claim to being MVP.

Winner: Carey Price – While Pekka Rinne is also very much in the running (the Preds have gone a respectable 3-2-2 in his absence.) This TSN article which I linked above, and this blog post from the managing editor of Habs Eye on the Prize, Andrew Berkshire, show without a shadow of doubt that Price is the most valuable netminder in the league. Despite some really impressive seasons some of the NHL’s brightest offensive stars. The bottom line is the Habs would not be a playoff team if not for Price. When you factor in that he’s the best at his position, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better choice.

2 Bilbos: Habs lost to the Sabres today, and there is a sliver of truth to the thinking that the Habs’ are too reliant on Price and he could wear down. Add that to the fact that this award typically goes to a forward and I’d have to say the odds are low.

Dark Horse: Phil Kessel? – What if the Leafs turn it around? and go on a run? and make the playoffs!! Yeah…dark horse…not a dead horse. How about Mark Giardano? He has no hope of winning this but the Calgary Flames have been one of the best stories in the league so far, and Giordano is the heart and soul of that team.

Habs’ MVP: Carey Price – He’s won the Molson Cup for the last 386 months…Look, it’s obviously Price. But P.K. Subban is not far behind. and Max Pacioretty isn’t far behind that. As mentioned in my Habs’ Season Preview the Habs’ will only go as far as the big 3 take them.

So there you have it there first ever “Hafling Awards But Not Really an Award, More of a Discussion on the Candidates and Who I Think Will Win the Award” Awards! better known as the HABNRAMDCWITWWA, (It’s really a miracle that the word HAB is in this acronym,..that was not planned.)

 

Go Habs Go!

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One comment

  1. Rocket: Seguin
    Art Ross : Kane (just caus I didnt want to say seguin twice, but really i pick seguin) Dark horse could be backstrom even if hes a top 5 right now.
    Selke : JT hands down.
    Norris: Webber (i like shattenkerk) (someone please get ekman-larsson out of phoenix)
    Vezina : Rinnee if he stays healthy
    Hart : Carey price

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