Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down the PHWA mid-season awards results

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.

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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.]

Vezina Trophy

  • 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.]

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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.

Calder Trophy

  • 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.

Selke Trophy

  • 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.

Norris Trophy

  • 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.

Hart Trophy

  • 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:

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  • Manginasal

    I can’t argue with much on that list. Trotz has been amazing, and I think more people expected the flames to at least be a playoff team, unlike the Isles. 

    If anything you could debate Hart and whether both Kucherov and Gaudreau have too much of a great “supporting” cast. Johnny is getting passes from a Norris favorite and passing to a Byng candidate. 

    On the other hand, how is McDavid helping his team find success? I guess you could say they’d be a no brainer bottom feeder without him, but on that standard, look at what Gibson is doing.

    • cjc

      Hope Peters doesn’t win the Adams – it is like the kiss of death for a coach.

      McDavid is the MVP, because he is the best player in the league. Gibson is also a good choice, he may not have the highest sv%, but none ahead of him are even close in games started or shots faced. Kucherov and Gaudreau are both having MVP calibre seasons though – they drive offense on their lines, and particularly in Gaudreau’s case it’s debatable Calgary would be close to where they are without his contributions.

  • Albertabeef

    You Flames writers need to start pushing Lindholm for the selkie. His numbers are insane. Between his PK work and +/- he should be highly considered for the award.

  • Mc.Rib

    Now that Albertabeef has posted the trad sending prospects Valimaki and Dillon Dube to Carolina for Michael Ferland and a 2020 first rounder, I think we’re now in good shape going into the playoffs as long as the goaltending holds up.

  • Derzie

    First in the division, 2nd in the league, mid-season awards. Not sure what to do with this information. Doesn’t feel real at all. Is it? 🙂
    Wow. What a first half.

    • Pizanno

      Here’s what I like…say Calgary goes .500 the rest of way, finishing with 102 pts. SJ would need to go 19-11 to finish ahead of them. LV would need to go 20-9-1. Lofty records. Just for funsies, Edm would need a 27-5 record.

    • Skylardog

      I was looking at the 20 games over 500 record the Flames have and thinking about what it would take for SJ and Vegas to pass us given they are 13 and 10 over 500. You saved me from doing the math.

      Waiting to see who wants the last 2 wildcard spots. Minny has started to separate themselves from the pack in the central, but still has work to do. Who wants to play the Flames in round 1?

  • Hockeysense9393

    We are being spoiled here…are we not? Let us keep ourselves humbled a little…
    I went to the Oiler’s site (I’m sure many in the Albertan general area are), and it really brought me to earth!

    How good we have it…down South here, thinking we are all that. Us Flames fans should feel a little compassion for the less fortunate. This is why I am adding this little tidbit:


    This should convince “most” of us that Burke was truly the best President that the Flames could have hired.
    Some of us thought he may hire someone like Jim Benning, but he thought outside the box and hired a more secluded, but probably more knowledgeable hockey up and comer in the name of Brad Treviling.
    Kudos for Burke knowing when to step away and giving over full reign of the Calgary Flames.
    His signing acumen has been close to the best in the business, and helming one of the best pro scouting staffs of the league (in my opinion). Now he has shown that he can bring this team, yet to another level…?

    Nooo… Sometimes we must be humbled. So please watch that Bob Nicholson interview in it’s fullest.

    Just a Note on potential accolades for the season…as it shows with just over 1/3 of the season left to play.

    Brad Treviling – GM of the Year
    Bill Peters – Jack Adams
    Matthew “Byng” Tkachuk – Lady Byng
    Elias Lindholm – Selke
    Travis Hamonic – NHL Foundation
    Mike Giordano – James Norris, King Clancy, Mark Messier
    Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau – Art Ross, Ted Lindsay, Hart Memorial
    David “BSD” Rittich – “a few” votes for the Vezina

    Ok, so the Lady Byng is a joke…but an inside one lol.
    Other then that, all these awards look pretty legit for at least a mention.

    This team is just so fun to watch. Just glance up North and be happy!! 😉

  • Chucky

    It seems a little odd to me that there is no mention of Brodie for Comeback Player of the Year. Last year he was vilified and almost hated and that was justified. This year he is at the top of the league, on a pure meritocracy like Peters runs he is now getting power play and penalty killing time. He is a true goat to god story.

    • Albertabeef

      Gio’s Norris run is a true credit to Brodie as a partner. They were the top tandem in the league until GG decided Brodie should play on his shooting handed side ugh. So happy for Brods now.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    Ryan thanks for showing us your ballot. I greatly appreciate the transparency. In your first year of voting I’m sure you wanted to show principles and fairness, but in future years please know it is okay to be somewhat of a homer. We all know that happens outeast so we need some counter balancing here!!

  • #27Train.

    Manginasal and Albertabeef provided todays fan poll question.. Which Flames player is the best looking to you?? Results..
    Sean Monahan-55%
    Matthew Tkachuk- 24%
    Johnny Gaudreau- 21%

    • Albertabeef

      Careful troll, I could become rich and your next 20 Christmases would be ruined.

      Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed. Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    Nikita Kucherov is nowhere close to being an MVP. He literally scores 90% of his goals standing backdoor waiting for the puck to come to him. He’s a product of an elite offence. Stamkos draws double coverage, which opens up ice for Nikita Kucherov and Point isn’t a slouch at all either.