With the NHL regular season quickly winding down and heading into its final month, the fields for the major NHL awards are beginning to thin out. This season has seen some players breakout into stardom, and others finally take the final step into their place among NHL’s elite. Here are the front runners for every major NHL award this season:
Hart Trophy: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane has been the NHL’s best player in the from the very start of the season, and he’s hardly slowed down. He’s already set a career high for goals and points, and the Hawks have only played 67 games. He’s already eclipsed the point total of last season’s leading scorer Jamie Benn, who had 87 in 2014-15, and is on pace to finish with an incredible 108 points. His season was highlighted by a 26-point game streak early on in October, November and December, during which he posted a mind boggling 40 points. He may not be the Blackhawks most important player – that title belongs to goalie Corey Crawford – but he has been the best player in the NHL this season, and should be a shoe-in for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.
Other finalists: Erik Karlsson, OTT; Cory Schneider, NJ
Vezina Trophy: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
This pick may take a bit of defending, and will probably end up being wrong. However, Crawford has been the NHL’s best all-around goaltender this season. He ranks first in the NHL in shutouts (7), second in save percentage (.929) and wins (35), and ninth in goals against average (2.22). Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, widely considered the favorite for the Vezina, ranks below Crawford in all of those statistics but wins, which are a team stat. Crawford often gets knocked as only being good because he plays behind the NHL’s best team, but as Chicago captain Jonathan Toews has said, it’s actually the other way around. Crawford has consistently been the Hawks’ best and most important player this season, and he is deserving of the Vezina Trophy.
Other finalists: Braden Holtby, WSH; Cory Schneider, NJ
Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
No NHL defenseman has been as good or as dominant this year as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. He has produced at an incredible rate, ranking first in the NHL in assists and fourth in points. He’s on pace to finish this season with 83 points as a defenseman, which would be an incredible accomplishment. The biggest knock on the 25-year old Swede is that he isn’t good in his own zone, but Yahoo!’s Ryan Lambert dispelled that argument last month. Karlsson has already won a Norris Trophy in his career, and he will be adding another to his list of accomplishments this June.
Other finalists: P.K. Subban, MTL; Brent Burns, SJ
Calder Trophy: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
One of the most hyped up draft prospects in NHL history heading into the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid’s other worldly talents have been on display from the very start of the season. He suffered a broken collarbone in November that caused him to miss 37 games, but he has hardly missed a beat since his return. He led all NHL rookies with 17 points in 14 games during the month of February. He also ranks second in the NHL in points per game, only trailing Kane. If he can continue to perform at the pace he’s played at this year, he’ll finish with 49 points in 45 games, which projects to 89 points over a full 82 game season. If McDavid can finish with same production rate, while it may not be a popular selection, he should win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.
Other finalists: Artemi Panarin, CHI; Shayne Ghostisbehere, PHI
Jack Adams Award: Lindy Ruff, Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars are one of the best stories of this NHL season. After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two years ago and missing the post season altogether last year, the Stars have risen to a spot among the NHL’s elite teams this season. They’re fast, and they score goals better than anyone. Ruff’s system and coaching has helped the Stars cover a lot of holes on the blue line and in the crease, as well. General manager Jim Nill deserves a lot of credit for putting this team together, but Ruff’s system and coaching has helped cement the Stars in their place as one of the NHL’s best teams. He should be rewarded for that with the Jack Adams Award for best coach.
Other finalists: Gerard Gallant, FLA; Barry Trotz, WSH
Adam Hess is the Lead NHL Writer at No Coast Bias. Follow him on Twitter at @_adamhess.