Trophies are true representatives of success, whether earned via scoring the most points or by being voted by league members to be the most valuable player. Trophies can also represent a truer team stat, though some goalies deserve nods for being the reason behind their teams’ success.
Below is another installment of updates tracking various accolades throughout the NHL, requiring revisiting of discussion for the Norris, Vezina, Jack Adams, and Selke Trophy. Previous articles within this series analyzed the following trophies: Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Hart, and the Calder Trophy. This article diversifies from total point awards to more voter-driven nominations, delving into possible trophy selections for the following categories: James Norris (best defenceman), Vezina (top goaltender), Jack Adams (best coach), and the Selke (best two-way/defensive forward).
Karlsson is still the James Norris frontrunner
|Rk||Prv R||New Rk||G||A||P||PS||5V5 G-A-P||5V5P%||C%||GF%||XGF%||HDCF%|
|1||Erik Karlsson||Erik Karlsson||18||55||73||9.7||11-36-47||64.4%||54.8%||56.2%||56.7%||59.1%|
|2||Rasmus Dahlin||Adam Fox||14||42||56||8.7||6-21-27||48.2%||56.5%||64.4%||56.4%||57.2%|
|3||Adam Fox||Rasmus Dahlin||10||40||50||8.5||9-16-25||50.0%||54.3%||56.8%||52.8%||50.1%|
|4||Josh Morrisey||Dougie Hamilton||15||37||52||8.6||7-17-24||46.2%||54.9%||60.4%||55.6%||57.8%|
|5||Cale Makar||Josh Morrisey||11||44||55||8.5||8-16-24||43.6%||48.8%||56.3%||48.1%||48.2%|
The James Norris Trophy is awarded to the best all-around defenceman. Compared to the previous writing, there has been shifting in the ranking of the likely candidates. Like the most recent winners, the award has generally been given to the defenceman who nets the most points, such as Cale Makar. This year appears no different due to Erik Karlsson’s resurgence.
Karlsson is too essential to San Jose’s success. Not only does Karlsson expand his earlier ten-point lead into a nearly impossible twenty-point gap, but nearly two-thirds of the points come at 5v5, indicating that Karlsson’s production is independent of the power play. Karlsson has also posted above-league-average underlying statistics and is generally found within the top 25 of most offensive and defensive categories, and significantly controls the number of high-danger chances for and against at even strength.
Next to Karlsson, the following top two in the Norris race remain the same, though the ranking of Adam Fox and Rasmus Dahlin has switched. Though the race between Fox and Dahlin is reasonably competitive, and both have pushed Karlsson for the award, Karlsson’s career resurgence and dominating play nominate him as the favourite. Fox and Dahlin hold slight edges against Karlsson in puck possession and on-ice results. Still, Karlsson dominates in other supporting metrics, including shot quality control and high-danger chance opportunity and mitigation.
Rising through the ranks is Dougie Hamilton, who, alongside Josh Morrissey, round out the top five of the candidate. Hamilton is proving his contract’s value, including holding slightly better margins than Karlsson’s on-ice performance and puck possession. Though Josh Morrissey, or “Norrisey” as he has been proclaimed, is having a breakout season, the recent play and subpar underlying metrics do not strongly support Morrissey’s argument. Although Morrissey has sustained success with above-average goal production at even strength, other statistics reveal he needs to control the quality and quantity of shots better to receive more significant consideration than his current standing.
Vezina Trophy race led by Ullmark
|Ranking||Prv Rk||New Rk||GP||Record||GAA||SV%||GSAA||GSAX||SO||GPS|
|1||Linus Ullmark||Linus Ullmark||33||26-4-1||1.90||.937%||29.83||29.5||2||8.4|
|2||Connor Hellebuyck||Connor Hellebuyck||41||25-15-1||2.41||.924%||24.09||23.9||3||9.7|
|3||Ilya Sorokin||Jake Oettinger||40||23-7-7||2.22||.926%||23.06||18.5||5||8.8|
|4||Jake Oettinger||Ilya Sorokin||40||17-17-4||2.41||.923%||20.36||25.5||4||8.7|
|5||Jusse Saros||Jusse Saros||39||20-14-5||2.73||.919%||17.37||23.9||1||9.0|
Discussed to a degree in the previous month, the Vezina Trophy race for the league’s top goaltender has mainly remained unaltered. Although Jusse Saros and Ilya Sorokin maintain their grasp within the top five, the top three of Linus Ullmark, Connor Hellebuyck, and Jake Oettinger have strengthened their hold on the candidacy. Since the last writing, Oettinger has continued his strong performance in conventional and underlying metrics, exalting himself into the top or near the best in each category.
Though Oettinger and Hellebuyck have had a strong season, Ullmark is and still should be considered the favourite to win this award at this point of the season. Like Karlsson’s timely career resurgence, Ullmark has posted the NHL best in several categories, including GAA, SV%, GSAX, and GSAA. Additionally, Ullmark has won an unheard of 84% of his starts. However, detractors will quickly point out that Ullmark does not retain the most goalie win shares or the most starts, as both accolades belong to Hellebuyck. Still, Ullmark’s level of play has exceeded that of his counterparts, proving he should be the award winner.
Hellebuyck and Oettinger do pressure Ullmark’s claim and should be strongly considered as secondary options. Hellebuyck’s argument lies within the workhorse load he shoulder’s for his respective team and leading the NHL in goalie point shares. Oettinger’s claim for top netminder stems from placing within the top three of most categories, including SV%, GSAx, and GSAA, similar to Hellebuyck’s play.
Sorokin’s play on a sudden all-in New York Islander team exhibits his case due to his NHL-best shutout number and top five placement within most categories. However, his record reduces the strength of his argument.
Saros, on the other hand, is willing the Nashville Predators to the playoffs through his play. Although his SV% is low considered to the rest of the field, Saros’ goalie point share measuring the number of wins generated through individual play, is a top-three mark in the league. Honourable mention of the replacement of Saros can be attributed to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s seasonal solid play. If Vasilevskiy continues to regain last season’s form and his record continues to pile up wins, by the subsequent writing of this article, Saros may find himself on the outside looking in.
Bergeron still in the lead for Selke
|Rk||Prev Rk||New Rk||GP||+/-||TK||CF% (FWD LGE RK)||SCF% (FWD LGE RK)||DPS|
|1||Patrice Bergeron||Patrice Bergeron||52||21||30||60.3% (6)||64.2% (1)||1.7|
|2||Mark Stone||Mikael Backlund||53||15||39||61.5% (1)||59.3% (14)||1.6|
|3||Mikael Backlund||Nico Hischier||51||22||37||54.6% (43)||57.0% (30)||1.8|
|4||Roope Hintz||Jordan Staal||51||8||25||60.5% (4)||58.9% (13)||1.3|
|5||Tomas Tatar||Mitch Marner||54||6||66||53.3% (64)||55.6% (41)||1.6|
Like the last writing in this series, finding viable candidates to quantify Selke nominations for the best defensive/two-way forward has proved more difficult than initially thought. Though not known as the strongest two-way player whose defensive game is continuously underrated, Jordan Staal and Mitch Marner should receive acknowledgment for their strong defensive play this season. However, their cases are less substantial than Patrice Bergeron, Mikael Backlund, and Nico Hischier.
Bergeron is a five-time Selker winner and still justifies being one of the league’s best two-way centremen. Alongside Jonathan Toews, Bergeron has won 61.4% of his draws, indicating the Boston Bruins immediately gain puck possession well above the average league rate regardless of the zone.
Furthermore, Bergeron’s argument for the award strengthens due to ranking sixth among forwards in his ability to control puck possession, first in generating scoring chances for/mitigating scoring chances against and still ranks sixth among forwards in plus-minus. Statistics that have remained unchanged since the last writing provide superior strength to his argument when facing opposing teams’ top players.
Backlund is underrated, and I state this as a lifelong Oilers fan. Though Backlund lacks a high plus-minus, he ranks highly in forward defensive point shares, a measurement of the number of points/wins contributed by their defensive play. Furthermore, Backlund is first among forwards in controlling puck possession and within the top 15 at controlling scoring chances for an against. Nico Hischer is a likewise underrated candidate, as although he is only within the top 50 of the underlying metrics, he ranks in the top five of the plus-minus for NHL forwards.
Staal and Marner are strong defensive forwards who need to collect recognition for their defensive play. Staal excels at controlling the opposition’s shot quality and quantity, ranking very highly in goals against 60. Marner’s status as defensively reliable stems from leading the league in takeaways, a position usually reserved for Mark Stone, who has unfortunately lost his recognition for the award due to an extended injury timeline. Therefore, though the field does provide competitiveness, it is hard to dissuade the selection committee from selecting Bergeron again.
Is Brind’Amour still the Jack Adams leader?
|Ranking||Coach||Team||Record||W%||CF% Tm Rk||XGF% Tm Rk||SCF% Tm Rk|
|1||Rod Brind’Amour||Carolina Hurricanes||34-10-8||.731%||1||1||1|
|2||Lindy Ruff||New Jersey Devils||34-13-5||.702%||3||2||2|
|3||Jim Montgomery||Boston Bruins||39-8-5||.798%||13||5||9|
|4||Dave Hakstol||Seattle Kraken||30-18-5||.613||5||17||18|
|5||Jon Cooper||Tampa Bay Lightning||34-16-2||.673%||10||8||5|
|HM||Jay Woodcroft||Edmonton Oilers||30-19-5||.602%||17||12||10|
As stipulated earlier, the Jack Adams Trophy is awarded to the league’s best coach. The NHL and media love to perpetuate narratives built around specific NHL teams that have sustained unbelievable turnarounds, skewing arguments for why each coach is the most deserving of the league’s top coach.
For example, in the previous rendition of this article, the writing included the likes of Rick Bowness and Dave Hakstol due to the unbelievable turnarounds of their respective teams. Although the argument for Bowness has fallen off, Hakstol has turned around the expansion of last season’s NHL bottom three worst Seattle Kraken from a lottery pick team to contend for the top of the Pacific Division. Furthermore, Hakstol’s team has retained very lackluster goaltending performances, though that has not hampered either a winning record or placing top five in team puck possession.
Dissimilar to Hakstol, Jon Cooper has been a perennial candidate for the Jack Adams award numerous times. Though not to the strength of Jim Montgomery, Lindy Ruff, and Rod Brind’Amour, Cooper’s team ranks high or at least league average in most categories, including the NHL’s second best powerplay, fourth in wins, and top ten in puck possession, shot quality generation, and the ratio of scoring chances for compared to scoring chances against.
Like the last writing, Ruff, Montgomery, and Brind’Amour are still among the top three coaches in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers’ recent hot streak elicits that the team may finally be rounding into form, indicating Woodcroft may find himself a darkhorse candidate if Edmonton continues to push.
Montgomery does deserve a nod for the job he has done in his first year with the Bruins, leading the league with a .798 win percentage, though they have sustained their first multi-game win streak. Montgomery also falters when compared to Brind’Amour and Ruff in the argument of unconventional measurements, like underlying statistics.
The New Jersey Devils’ turnaround must be at Ruff’s feet. Ruff’s consideration stems from his team ranking either second or third in various categories: puck possession, shot quality generation, and scoring chances compared to scoring chances against.
Though Ruff and Mongromery provide solid supporting arguments, Brind’Amour maintains the status as the favourite. Not only did Brind’Amour lose his number one goalie early in the season, but he also leads the league in puck possession, shot quality generation, and scoring chances for compared to scoring chances against. Additionally, Carolina leads the league in shots per game, second in wins, second in points and win percentage, and eighth in penalty kill.
The league has shown tendencies in the past to award Jack Adams to the league’s winningest coach. However, Carolina’s team’s success in controlling the play and being the NHL’s best in several categories provide compelling arguments for Brind’Amour to receive the trophy.
This is the fourth installment within this series and the second article of its kind covering Norris, Selke, Vezina, and Jack Adams trophies. The following update will revise awards previously covered, including the Hart, Rocket Richard, Art Ross, and Calder. Further updates on the trophy races covered in this article will be reviewed in a month.
All stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com, MoneyPuck.com, and naturalstattrick.com