What race for the 2022-23 NHL awards is still open?
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It’s been a strange year for NHL Awards races in that a few seem to be stalled so early. At the very least, it looks like the Hart Trophy is long since decided. If you don’t put Connor McDavid’s name first at this point, you’re thinking about the galaxy.
But not all votes are decided. So, Daily Faceoff Roundtable; What race for NHL awards is still wide open in your mind?
MAT LARKIN: For me it’s the Norris Trophy race. Erik Karlsson delivered a legendary season when it looked like his career was in decline, but only one defender has won the award on a non-playoff team – even if it was Adam Fox just two years ago. Speaking of Fox, his all-around game puts him in Norris’ discussion again this year. Meanwhile, Josh Morrissey had a career season, while Charlie McAvoy and Cale Makar were arguably the best all-around defenders but lost time through injuries. And what about the terrific seasons that Dougie Hamilton, Hampus Lindholm and Rasmus Dahlin have had? Look how many names I just listed. This race is always up for grabs.
MIKE MCKENNA: I can’t figure out the jack adams favorite. Before the season, I predicted Pete DeBoer would win in his first year as Dallas Stars coach. And I still think he deserves a ton of recognition. But is it possible that Bruins coach Jim Montgomery doesn’t deserve it? Boston already has 105 points. The only problem is that the Jack Adams rarely goes on the Presidents Trophy winning team. There was a time early this season when I thought Rick Bowness was a logical choice, but the Jets fell. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is still there. But what about Devils bench boss Lindy Ruff? New Jersey had a .384 point percentage in the 2021-22 season. This year it’s at .699 – and it’s not just because of a change in goaltending. Ruff and his staff — including former Florida Panthers head coach and 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy winner Andrew Brunette — should be given serious consideration.
NICK ALBERGA: I’m with Matt. For me it’s the Norris Trophy race. And even that, to be fair, I think it’s locked down at this point. That said, it’s probably a tighter race (if you want to call it that) than any of the other major awards. There’s no doubt that Erik Karlsson has been amazing this season. If it hits 100 points, you can call it a day by the way. Besides, I think Adam Fox is in on it. Josh Morrissey and Rasmus Dahlin also deserve some recognition. If I were to put money on it now, however, the prize would go to Karlsson or Fox.
STEVEN ELLIS: I’d like to deviate from the norm here, but the Norris is the one that screams at me the most. I know Karlsson racked up the points and deserves special attention for that alone. But I think there are just better, more comprehensive options, like Adam Fox or Hampus Lindholm. Both were exceptional for their respective teams and played real meaningful hockey on the Stanley Cup contenders. Rasmus Dahlin was also great. Heck, I think Brent Burns deserves outside consideration as well. Given the diversity of goaltenders, forward injuries, and more, Burns has been a consistent force this year.
FRANCK SERAVALLI: I’m going to step down from the board, put on my hat as president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and say that the Masterton Trophy. This prize is our baby. And most years we usually have a pretty good idea of the candidates – because it’s for perseverance and dedication to the game, but that had become the de facto price of returning from injury. There are 32 nominees, one from each team, and in most years more than 30 players receive votes. It’s also competitive. Without knowing who each chapter is going to nominate, it’s hard to handicap, but I have a few potential candidates: Buffalo’s Tagus Thompson for his rise to stardom after being counted as a prospect; that of San Jose Erik Karlsson for overcoming a multitude of injuries to return to an elite level; from Winnipeg Josh Morrissey recognized the difficulty of losing his father and his sportsmanship and leadership were special to watch; Los Angeles’ Phoenix Copley and his incredible journey to becoming an NHL starter at the age of 30 after being scrapped. There’s no shortage of great stories and I’m a sucker for a good one..