For the second consecutive season, the Professional Hockey Writers Association has engaged in mid-season awards balloting. They released their results early on Thursday morning, with several Calgary Flames representatives prominent within the results.
I’m a first-time voter in the PHWA’s mid-season awards, so I’ll provide my ballot and some commentary on the voting. For awards that PHWA members also decide, I’ll also compare last season’s mid-season balloting with the actual award finalists. Flames representatives are bolded.
Comeback Player of the Year
- Results: 1. Robin Lehner (NYI), 2. Jeff Skinner (BUF), 3. Zach Parise (MIN)
- My ballot: 1. Jaroslav Halak (BOS), 2. Lehner, 3. Skinner
Created for the mid-season PHWA awards, the Comeback Player Award is exactly what you think it is. I leaned slightly towards Halak over Lehner because Halak’s been so good for the Bruins, but it was a very close decision between those two for the top spot.
Rod Langway Award
- Results: 1. Mattias Ekholm (NSH), 2. Mark Giordano (CGY), 3. Victor Hedman (TBL)
- My ballot: 1. Ryan McDonagh (NYR), 2. Jake Muzzin (LAK), 3. Giordano
Another mid-season exclusive award designed to honour the best defensive blueliner, I can’t help but imagine the balloting for this was all over the place. I conceived it more towards two-way defenders while others probably had differing interpretations.
GM of the Year Award
- Results: 1. Brad Treliving (CGY), 2. Doug Wilson (SJS), 3. Lou Lamoriello (NYI)
- My ballot: 1. David Poile (NSH), 2. Wilson, 3. Jason Botterill (BUF)
Sorry for leaving you off my ballot, Brad. But the Predators are deep and good, the Sharks made that big Erik Karlsson trade that made them a really strong team, and Botterill’s summer tinkering transformed the Sabres. I can’t argue much with the final tally, though. [Awarded at the end of the season by a vote from a 41-member panel of general managers, executives and media.]
Jack Adams Award
- Results: 1. Barry Trotz (NYI), 2. Bill Peters (CGY), 3. Jon Cooper (TBL)
- My ballot: 1. Cooper, 2. Peters, 3. Travis Green (VAN)
All due respect to Trotz, who’s done a great job, but I leaned more towards an expected powerhouse (Tampa), an unexpected powerhouse (Calgary) and a team nobody thought would be competitive that’s somehow in a playoff spot (Vancouver). Trotz was fourth on my list, for similarly elevating a team I thought would be more towards the NHL’s mushy middle. [Awarded at the end of the season by a vote from the NHL Broadcasters Association.]
- Results: 1. John Gibson (ANA), 2. Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK), 3. Frederik Andersen (TOR)
- My ballot: 1. Pekka Rinne (NSH), 2. Andersen, 3. Gibson
Gibson’s held the Ducks in a lot of games this season. The Predators have also hung in there despite having a ton of defensive injuries, so I liked Rinne this season, too. Andersen’s just been very solid for the Leafs all season. [Awarded at the end of the season by a vote from the NHL’s general managers.]
Lady Byng Trophy
- Results: 1. Aleksander Barkov (FLA), 2. Morgan Rielly (TOR), 3. Sean Monahan (CGY)
- My ballot: 1. Jonathan Toews (CHI), 2. Barkov, 3. Monahan
- 2018 mid-season: 1. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), 2. Auston Matthews (TOR), 3. Ryan O’Reilly (BUF)
- 2018 finalists: 1. William Karlsson (VGK), 2. Barkov, 3. O’Reilly
This award usually boils down to “plays a lot, has a lot of points and, doesn’t take a lot of penalties.” That’s how I voted, and that’s seemingly how everyone voted. These mid-season awards barely predicted any finalists a year ago, probably due to some variation in scoring and penalty-taking among the mid-season finalists.
- Results: 1. Elias Pettersson (VAN), 2. Rasmus Dahlin (BUF), 3. Miro Heiskanen (DAL)
- My ballot: 1. Pettersson, 2. Dahlin, 3. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (MTL)
- 2018 mid-season: 1. Mathew Barzal (NYI), 2. Brock Boeser (VAN), 3. Charlie McAvoy (BOS)
- 2018 finalists: 1. Barzal, 2. Boeser, 3. Clayton Keller (ARZ)
Two out of three ain’t bad. Kotkaniemi’s a bit more dynamic than Heiskanen, but Heiskanen eats up more minutes, so I can see the justification for him being on most ballots. This vote was a strong predictor last season.
- Results: 1. Patrice Bergeron (BOS), 2. Aleksander Barkov (FLA), 3. Mark Stone (OTT)
- My ballot: 1. Bergeron, 2. Barkov, 3. Brayden Point (TBL)
- 2018 mid-season: 1. Bergeron, 2. Sean Couturier (PHI), 3. Anze Kopitar (LAK)
- 2018 finalists: 1. Kopitar, 2. Bergeron, 3. Couturier
The Selke is the toughest vote for me, in that it’s hard to quantify how well a defensive forward is performing. It generally tends to be a reputation award, which is somewhat unfair to up-and-comers but has tended to be how the PHWA has voted. I went with the supremely underrated Point as my third place vote, as he’s been extremely good for the Lightning. This vote was a strong predictor last season, though the order was a bit jumbled up.
- Results: 1. Mark Giordano (CGY), 2. Morgan Rielly (TOR), 3. Brent Burns (SJS)
- My ballot: 1. Giordano, 2. Rielly, 3. Burns
- 2018 mid-season: 1. Victor Hedman (TBL), 2. Drew Doughty (LAK), 3. John Klingberg (DAL)
- 2018 finalists: 1. Hedman, 2. Doughty, 3. P.K. Subban (NSH)
The Norris tends to be a combination of scoring a lot, playing a lot, and having underlying numbers that are pretty solid. You can’t really argue with the top three, though I’d imagine the order of the second and third place votes varied on a few ballots. This vote was a strong predictor last season.
- Results: 1. Nikita Kucherov (TBL), 2. Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), 3. Connor McDavid (EDM)
- My ballot: 1. Kucherov, 2. Gaudreau, 3. David Pastrnak (BOS)
- 2018 mid-season: 1. Kucherov, 2. Nathan MacKinnon (COL), 3. John Tavares (NYI)
- 2018 finalists: 1. Taylor Hall (NJD), 2. Anze Kopitar (LAK), 3. MacKinnon
Another vote that usually mirrors the scoring race to some degree, most members seem to go with the NHL’s leading scorer as the most valuable to his team (and the second place scorer in second place). Given Edmonton’s tenuous playoff status, I went with Pastrnak (Boston’s top gun) as my third place pick.
Colleague and friend of the site John Hoven provided some intel on the voting breakdown which might be welcome news for Flames fans:
UPDATE: In speaking w/ @ThePHWA brass, while there are no plans to release exact numbers, I was able to glean a few interesting nuggets – Kucherov vs Gaudreau for the Hart was pretty close & Giordano won in an absolute landslide; Rielly wasn't anywhere near him in Norris voting. https://t.co/XGdETmejqJ
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) January 24, 2019