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The Puck Stops Here

NHL Award Nominees Announced

Over the last couple of weeks the finalists for the NHL awards (at least those that interest me) have been announced.  While I have already posted who I would vote for if I had an award ballot, we can infer a lot more from looking at the award nominees.  Here are my comments on the finalists that have been announced:

Calder Trophy:  Tyler Johnson Tampa Bay Lightning, Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche, Ondrej Palat Tampa Bay Lightning.  These are the three highest scoring rookies.  I wouldn't be surprised if they finish in the order of their point totals meaning MacKinnon gets the award.  Missing out is Torey Krug of Boston.  He is the top scoring defenceman this year and did a very good job as the power play point man for the top team in the regular season.  The argument against Krug was that he didn't play as many minutes as top defencemen - though he played more minutes than any of the Calder nominee forwards.  Given the minutes Zdeno Chara plays that is probably an unreasonable expectation for Krug.  I have him as a close second behind MacKinnon.

Selke Trophy:  Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar Los Angeles Kings, Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks.  These were the same three players I would have supported.  I think Bergeron will win.

Adams Trophy: Mike Babcock Detroit Red Wings, Jon Cooper Tampa Bay Lightning, Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche.  I think this shows a poor idea of who to vote for as coach of the year.  I expect Patrick Roy wins the award.  Colorado took a big step forward in points.  Part of it was his ability to make Colorado a fun place to play.  Part of it was being in the right place at the right time.  It wasn't Roy's technical ability as a coach because that is a weakness of his.  Nevertheless I put him in third place on my ballot.  Jon Cooper is not an above average NHL coach.  The emergence of goalie Ben Bishop made him look good.  Similarly, Roy benefitted from the emergence of Semyon Varlamov.  The easiest way to be an overrated coach is to have a top goalie emerge around the time you are hired.  In terms of his technical ability, Mike Babcock is by far the best coach nominated this year.  He won't win.  On a historical basis, there is no reason to support him this year in particular when he hasn't been a top coach of the year nominee in the recent past.  Detroit jumped to the easier conference and nevertheless fell in the standings with injuries to key players.  That doesn't mean Babcock is not a good coach, but it doesn't make him coach of the most improved team.  I had Bruce Boudreau and Ken Hitchcock as my top two choices.  They are proven good coaches who were behind teams that did very well this year.  I see them as better candidates this year than any of the coaches actually nominated.

Masterton Trophy:  Jaromir Jagr New Jersey Devils, Manny Malhotra Carolina Hurricanes, Dominic Moore New York Rangers.  I hope Malhotra wins.  The fact he is in the NHL at all after a serious eye injury that hampered him for years and having to work his way back through the AHL is the kind of story that should win this award.  I think Dominic Moore may win.  Being in a larger media market will help his case.  He overcame the emotional issue of losing his wife, but there was no physical issue associated with it as Malhotra had.  I think Jaromir Jagr will be a distant third.  He is basically nominated for having a long career.

Lady Byng Trophy:  Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks, Ryan O'Reilly Colorado Avalanche, Martin St Louis New York Rangers.  I think O'Reilly wins because of his absurdly low two penalty minutes this season even though he isn't as good a player as either other finalist.  An issue was raised over the St Louis nomination by those who argued that his asking for a trade from Tampa Bay was not gentlemanly.  I would argue that is not the intent of the award.  It is intended to award on ice play and our modern era of increased access to players has allowed us to see aspects of players that we never used to see.  That was never intended to be included in the criteria for this award.  St Louis is definitely a talented and gentlemanly hockey player.  I think Tyler Seguin deserved a nomination in place of Patrick Marleau.  He was roughly equal in terms of gentlemanly play and had a better seasn than any of the nominees.

Norris Trophy:  Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins, Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks, Shea Weber Nashville Predators.   I think Keith should win handily.  I think that there were a wide range of candidates worthy of some mention behind him.  I think Chara is beginning to show his age and is not as good as he once was.  I didn't have him in my top six.  I think he gets the benefit of the doubt because his team finished first overall.  I had Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan Suter as my other nominees.  I think it is interesting that they were the top three players by ice time in the playoffs first round along with Keith.  that shows their value to their respective teams - though it can't be taken as a knock against Shea Weber since Nashville missed the playoffs.  Pietrangelo and Suter have not built their reputation as top defencemen on the level that Chara and Weber have and were overlooked more for reputation than their play on the ice.

Vezina Trophy:  Ben Bishop Tampa Bay Lightning, Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins, Semyon Varlamov Colorado Avalanche.  I think Bishop secured his nomination in the general managers' minds by February and despite the fact his play suffered beyond that point, they never had second thoughts.  Carey Price is a far better nominee who had a better season.  Tuukka Rask should win he has the best reputation of any of these goalies and had the best season.

Hart Trophy:  Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf Anaheim Ducks, Claude Giroux Philadelphia Flyers.  These are the top three scorers in the NHL.  Sidney Crosby should win easily.  He could be a unamimous choice.  I had Duncan Keith as my second pick.  He was the best defenceman in the NHL by a significant margin.  Giroux shouldn't be nominated.  He had a good offensive season in the weaker conference where scoring was easier.  He doesn't have any above average defensive ability or puck possession numbers.  The point totals will likely mirror their finish in the voting.

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Comments

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You mean a defenseman (Krug) played more minutes than forwards? WHAT. IS. THIS. MONSTROSITY.

P.S. its pretty easy to go check a player usage chart to see Krug played against crap competition and had very sheltered zone starts.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/06/14 at 11:44 PM ET

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I think it is hilarious to look at (once again) usage charts to see that Duncan Keith wasn’t even in the defensive pair that was most relied on for defensive purposes.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/06/14 at 11:50 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Because Chara played against top competition, Krug didn’t.  It is a knock against him, but not as big a knock as you imagine.  You can’t hide a player from opposition and also play him 17:30 a game as Krug did.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/06/14 at 11:50 PM ET

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Well, when you start 66% of your shifts in the O-Zone…and you consider that his 2:30 average PP time per game actually inflates his TOI (he was 8th on the Bruins in ES TOI per game)....It’s pretty easy to hide him from good competition. And when he’s up against good competition, it’s with a man advantage or in a favorable zone.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/06/14 at 11:56 PM ET

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8th among defensemen…so like a 4th pair d-man. less than kevan miller, and seidenberg only played 37 games. hell, Meszaros was a healhy scratch for a while in Philly, and he came in and played better minutes than Krug.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/06/14 at 11:57 PM ET

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And the dude averaged 15 seconds of shorthanded ice time per game….really? I mean, it’s not much his fault but….really?

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/06/14 at 11:59 PM ET

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Ok we get it, you don’t like him. Give it a rest.

Who is your team by the way? Canadians maybe?

Posted by weswolverine on 05/07/14 at 12:01 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

You play a defenceman on the power play and give him offensive zone starts if you want to maximize his offensive ability.  Given the depth in Boston, the fact that he was the successful power play point man shows considerable success.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/07/14 at 12:02 AM ET

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Then maybe he should be a forward. But considering you want to give Keith the Norris for a guy who took a backseat to Oduya and Hjalmarsson in defensive responsibilities, this doesn’t surprise me.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/07/14 at 12:06 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

A point man is a different skill set than that of a forward.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/07/14 at 12:09 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

considering you want to give Keith the Norris for a guy who took a backseat to Oduya and Hjalmarsson in defensive responsibilities

Do I interpret this to mean you think Oduya or Hjalmarsson are better players than Keith?  If they were Canadian would they have replaced him on the Canadian Olympic Team in your world?

Or is this better explained by the fact that Keith has offensive and defensive ability and thus is played in offensive situations as well as defensive ones, while Oduya and Hjalmarsson have no offensive ability to speak of so they only play defensive situations?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/07/14 at 12:14 AM ET

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No shit sherlock, that was sarcasm. Fact is, you only provide one side of the puck to your story when he clearly has deficiencies on the defensive side of the puck.

Hell, Palat and Johnson each averaged over 2 minutes of SH TOI per game. Then Mackinnon got practically nothing, but Krug got more power play time per game.

Well, nice debate I guess. Maybe next time you could bring some facts to the game. :/

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/07/14 at 12:17 AM ET

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Never said he wasn’t good, but it’s time to put the defense back into the Norris. Compare usage charts for the three norris candidates. Weber and Chara still face the toughest competition. Everything included, I’m going with Weber and the crap team around him.

Next time bring a stronger game. You bore me with your crap writing.

Posted by redwingshomersLOL on 05/07/14 at 12:20 AM ET

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Next time bring a stronger game. You bore me with your crap writing.

Hahaha…yep you sir are a god among men in the debate ring. Well done! Never heard such eloquence spewed forth in defence of ones position. Nice work!

Posted by weswolverine on 05/07/14 at 12:44 AM ET

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Context matters!

Torey Krug had the cushiest job (limited even strength minutes with ridiculously easy 5-on-5 zone starts, tons of PP time—almost all of which with Krejci, Lucic, Iginla, and Chara on the ice—virtually no PK time) on by far the best team in by far the weaker conference.

Yes, I know, in order to get that kind of job you need to have legitimate offensive skills, and Torey Krug does. He’s a good player who had a good season. But you’d have to be crazy not to accept that his contextual situation played a big role in his scoring success. He had advantages no other rookie defenseman had.

To me, judging Torey Krug by taking his scoring numbers more or less at face value is like judging a goalie by his wins. A league average goaltender playing for a team that scores over 3 goals a game and only allows 25 shots against is going to win a truckload more games than a great goaltender on a team that scores 2 goals a game and allows 30+ shots.

For the vast majority of players, granted, that kind of argument probably wouldn’t hold too much water, but Krug’s deployment is such an extreme outlier that I think the comparison is fair. A guy who gets to take offensive zone draws at a 2-to-1 ratio over defensive zone draws at even strength alone, plus get tons of PP time with great teammates, is going to have a much easier time putting up points than someone without those advantages, even if the two players are equivalently talented and perform equally well.

Now, even when adjusting for context, I think Krug was probably still the best rookie offensive defenseman in the NHL last season. But I think the gap between him and a guy like Lindholm or Trouba narrows considerably on that side of the puck. Once you factor in the fact that Krug provides very little defensive value relative his peers, I think it becomes much more difficult to argue that Krug was even the best rookie defenseman overall last season, let alone a guy with a legitimate case at being the best rookie overall.

Like I said, context matters. Once you make an attempt to look at Krug’s accomplishments in isolation his case becomes much less clear cut.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 05/07/14 at 02:02 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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