Photo credit:Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Handicapping Calgary Flames awards contenders
By Ryan Pike2 years ago
The Calgary Flames 2021-22 season is roughly one-third of the way through, with the club having completed 27 games of their schedule. With that many games in the books, we can now get a sense of how the team is fairing (quite well) and how their individual players are beginning to stack up in regards to the league’s various awards races.
One-third of the way through, here’s a snapshot of who’s likely in contention for some year-end hardware.
Voted on by writers
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
What it’s for: perseverance and dedication.
The obvious Flames contender is Oliver Kylington. A year ago, Kylington cleared waivers and spent the majority of the year either on the taxi squad or as a healthy scratch. Now? He’s a top four defender, playing a ton, and someone the Flames are leaning on in key situations.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
What it’s for: the top defensive forward.
The traditional voting patterns are “guy who scores a lot but doesn’t get scored on much.” That means the most prominent candidates look to be Auston Matthews, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikko Rantanen, and maybe Joe Pavelski, Evan Rodrigues or Ryan O’Reilly.
According to Evolving Hockey, Tkachuk and Lindholm are among the league leaders in defensive goals above replacement, so they firmly belong here based on their underlying metrics.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
What it’s for: gentlemanly conduct.
The Lady Byng usually goes to somebody who plays a lot, plays a big role, and doesn’t take a ton of penalties. The top Flames contender is likely Lindholm, who has taken just a single minor penalty so far this season despite playing on the first line, and the top power play unit, and on the penalty kill.
Calder Memorial Trophy
What it’s for: the top rookie.
Backup goalie Dan Vladar is a dark horse here. He’s among the top rookie goalies in the league. However, he’s probably not going to play as often as (a) the other rookie goalies or (b) the Calder contenders that don’t play goal, so the voting public will likely have fewer viewings of him and therefore fewer chances to be impressed by him.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
What it’s for: the top defenceman.
Nominally, the Norris tends to go to the blueliner that scores the most. Kylington is the top scoring defender the Flames have, and he’s 28th in the league. (He’s tied for fourth at five-on-five scoring, though.) Both Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin have strong underlyings – they’re both top 20 in expected goals percentage among blueliners who’ve played at least 200 minutes of five-on-five – but they might not have the offensive stats to get traction with potential voters.
Hart Memorial Trophy
What it’s for: the league’s MVP.
Johnny Gaudreau is among the top players in the league for average game score, which attempts to capture a player’s in-game impact. He might have the best chance for a Flames player to get Hart votes – he’s gotten Hart votes in the past – and Jacob Markström might be hampered a bit by the perception that Darryl Sutter’s checking system helps goalies, while Gaudreau is a smaller offensive player thriving within Sutter’s system, which may actually help his candidacy.
Voted on by general managers
What it’s for: the top goaltender.
Markström is one of the top statistical performers among goalies this season. He’s gotten Vezina votes previously (in 2018-19 and 2019-20, when he finished fourth) so he’s definitely on the voting body’s radar. (As noted earlier, he might be a victim to some extent of “it’s Sutter’s system!” skepticism, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers he’s put up so far.)
Voted on by broadcasters
Jack Adams Award
What it’s for: the top head coach.
The voting tends to be for coaches who lead turnaround teams. The Flames are a major turnaround team, so Sutter will get serious attention.
Determined by stats (and stats alone)
Art Ross Trophy
What it’s for: the player that scores the most points.
Gaudreau has 29 points, tied for 10th in the NHL. He’s 16 points behind both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the league lead.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
What it’s for: the player that scores the most goals.
Andrew Mangiapane has 17 goals, good for fourth in the NHL. He’s six goals behind league-leader Draisaitl.
William M. Jennings Trophy
What it’s for: the goalies on the team that allows the fewest goals.
Calgary’s goalies, Markström and Vladar, have combined for a 2.15 goals against average to lead the NHL in that category. Carolina is second with 2.20 and Toronto is a distant third at 2.50.
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