NHL Awards: PHBA Edition

Travis Hrubeniuk
May 01 2014 11:37AM

The-PHBA

It's time for something new. 

I’m sure you guys have heard of the PHWA before, right? The Pro Hockey Writers Association? You know, those guys who gave Ovechkin an award for a position he didn’t really play last year? Yeah. Those guys. Well as great as some of them are, a few of us in the blogging world have lost some faith in their abilities.

Thus, the fine gentlemen over at The Royal Half developed the PHBA. That’s right folks, the Professional Hockey Bloggers Association.  As part of their duties, they decided all members would include a vote in this year’s NHL Awards (or at least our version of them), and were kind enough to include us at Jets Nation in the voting process.

I completed the ballot on behalf of us here at Jets Nation, so here are my picks in comparison to the rest of the PHBA.

Hart Trophy

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Travis

PHBA

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby

Jonathan Toews

Ryan Getzlaf

Corey Perry

Claude Giroux

Joe Thornton

Semyon Varlamov

Tyler Seguin

Tyler Seguin

 

Almost everybody agreed that Sidney Crosby was the league MVP this season.  That really isn’t too surprising considering his season.  Crosby led the league in assists and points while playing some of the harder minutes in Pittsburgh, and is a pretty damn good possession player in doing so.  He’s the best player from Canada, the best player in the NHL, and quite possibly the best player in the world. Not getting the MVP would just be silly.

I guess I got Team Canada syndrome a little bit with Claude Giroux.  Nothing against the guy, he’s definitely the man in Philadelphia and one of the best players in the league, but I just decided to go in another direction.  Maybe it was my Winnipeg bias towards Toews acting up a little bit.  

I’m kind of surprised that Joe Thornton wasn’t on more people’s ballots.  He was the best possession forward (by a large margin) on one of the league’s best possession teams, and was firmly planted right behind Crosby in assists.  Sure he didn’t put the puck in the net much himself, but when you only score 11 goals and still find yourself 13th in league scoring, you’re doing something right.

Lady Byng

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PHBA

Anze Kopitar

Ryan O’Reilly

Ryan O’Reilly

Tyler Seguin

Michael Frolik

Martin St. Louis

Teemu Selanne

Marcus Johansson

Alex Pietrangelo

Frans Nielson

 

This was far and away the hardest choice for me.  I really don’t know how to judge how much of a “gentlemanly conduct” in a bunch of guys I’ve never had a chance to talk to, so I guess you have to rely pretty heavily on the “sportsmanship” side of things.  This leaves me relying pretty heavily on penalty minute numbers, explaining why Ryan O’Reilly ended up winning (and will likely win the award from the PHWA as well). 

But wait, I didn’t vote him first overall myself…

Well, I took my personal perception of guys into account for my votes.  (Shut up, I can do what I want to.) This led to me bumping “Mr. Sign an offer sheet and force the Avs to pay me lots” down to second for the badass Anze Kopitar (70 points, 24PIMs), and completely leaving Marty St. Louis off of my list.

In all honesty it didn’t really matter where else my picks went, as this was Ryan O’Reilly’s award regardless.  You can tell a lot of us felt this way, as there was a pretty wide variety of selections on the final list.  I decided to toss Michael Frolik in there for his 42 point, 12 PIM season, and the always classy Teemu Selanne because I’m from Winnipeg and will always love the guy.

Vezina

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PHBA

Semyon Varlamov

Tukka Rask

Jonathan Bernier

Semyon Varlamov

Carey Price

Ben Bishop

Tukka Rask

Carey Price

Ben Bishop

Sergei Bobrovsky

 

As wide open and exhaustive the list of Lady Byng candidates was, the Vezina was pretty damn short.  As it should be, considering the real factors are pretty easily displayed with numbers.  For my picks, I took into consideration how dominant possession wise each respective goaltenders team was, and shifted guys a few spots accordingly. 

Varlamov was a huge reason as to why the Avalanche were able to make the playoffs, and despite his off-ice issues he is well deserving of a Vezina win.  He finished the season  a mere 0.003% behind Rask in save percentage despite facing 300+ more shots in five more games.  Not to mention he didn’t get the privilege of playing behind Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins defense.  I see Rask as a hell of a goaltender and worthy of a nomination, but there are some other goalies who performed pretty damn well for it as well.

If you watched the Leafs at all this season, you know how terrible defensively they were.  Bernier was forced to stand on his head almost every game, and still managed to put together a .923 Sv%.  I love me some James Reimer and Phil Kessel, but Bernier is without question the Leafs MVP this season, and is more than worthy of a Vezina nod. 

Selke

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PHBA

Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron

Jonathan Toews

Anze Kopitar

David Backes

Jonathan Toews

Joe Thornton

David Backes

Bryan Little

David Krejci

 

Patrice Bergeron is an animal.  Just a complete animal.  You see it when you watch him play, but his numbers are absolutely staggering to look at.  The guy has a Relative Corsi Percetnage of 9.7% on the Boston Bruins for goodness sake.  While playing the hardest minutes on the team.  He was on the ice for 1157 shot attempts for, and a mere 733 shot attempts against.  I probably should have included Anze Kopitar on my list, but when your entire team finished the season with above 50% O-Zone starts it’s hard to pick out one guy (although he did play the toughest minutes of the bunch).

I through Jonathan Toews number two on my list, but after a recent discussion I’ve had with Garret Hohl of Arctic Ice Hockey, I would probably bump him down a couple spots.  While Toews plays against some tougher competition for the Blackhawks, he gets extremely beneficial zone starts, which tend to be more indicative of the actual difficulty of a player’s TOI.  He still dominated possession wise, and is a solid two way guy, but not to the extreme of many others.

I felt it pretty necessary to give Bryan Little a nod here.  He actually received a few other 4th and 5th place votes, which left me feeling quite pleased that people might actually be taking note of the guy.  He plays some of the toughest minutes for the Jets, is one of the best possession players, and scores a lot of points while doing so.  He is well deserving of some recognition in this league.

Overall, I find both my and the PHBA choices as pretty darn telling of the league right now.  A bunch of players from the Western Conference, and a couple Boston Bruins.

Calder

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Travis

PHBA

Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon

Jacob Trouba

Ondrej Palat

Ondrej Palat

Tyler Johnson

Torey Krug

Torey Krug

Tyler Johnson

Olli Matta

 

Nathan MacKinnon is pretty good at hockeying.  If there was any question before, his performance in the first round secured it (these picks were in before that time by the way).  Sixty-three points in your rookie season will go a pretty far way in making Avs fans forget about the disaster of a season they had last year.  I expected the kid to do well this season, but he dominated.  It’s going to be fun having him in the Central for the next 15-20 years.

I was honestly pretty disappointed that Trouba finished 7th in voting.  At minimum I thought the guy would be top five, and likely ahead of Olli Matta.  In my opinion, coming into the NHL as a rookie defenseman is extremely difficult.  Yet Trouba came in, put up 29 points in 65 games, was arguably the Jets second best defenseman this year (while being tied to Stuart), and played some pretty tough minutes.  Nothing against Nathan MacKinnon (or any of the other nominees), he deserves his recognition and this award, but it bothers me how often it goes to forwards.

I was glad to see Torey Krug get a bit of attention.  Despite playing on the Bruins (that’s why I snuck him below Trouba), he was a monster on the power play all season.  The kid has a cannon from the point, and will likely be a Norris candidate in the future.

Norris

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PHBA

Mark Giordano

Duncan Keith

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Shea Weber

Alex Pietrangelo

Alex Pietrangelo

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Erik Karlsson

 

I get it. People like handing this award out to high scoring defensemen. Doesn’t mean I have to agree or like it.  Personally, I feel like the Norris needs to start shifting back to defensemen that play tough minutes, and excel in those minutes.  Points are clearly something to consider, but I don’t see them as the end-all-be-all. 

Take a look at these usage charts:

Player usage chart - My Choices

Player usage chart - PHBA

My point is this. Clearly these are all pretty deserving defensemen. They are almost all great possession wise (Weber slipped up a bit, but he plays some of the toughest minutes).  But if you are giving out an award for the best of the best, I think it should be going to the guy who keeps the puck in the opponent’s end of the ice while playing against their best guys. Mark Giordano is that guy (his 47 points don’t hurt either).  He had a hell of a season, and deserves recognition for it.  

Adams

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PHBA

Mike Babcock

Patrick Roy

Jon Cooper

Mike Babcock

Todd McLellan

Jon Cooper

Darryl Sutter

Claude Julien

Todd Richards

Bruce Boudreau

 

I partially understand why Patrick Roy was taken.  I mean, the Avs had a huge turn around in the standings this year.  But I just can’t ignore the fact that they were one of the worst possession teams in the league, and rode very high shooting percentages and a spectacular goaltender the entire way.  I’m sure folks who watch the Avalanche on a regular basis could talk more to the effects he had in regards to systems play, but I still question how good this team will be next year.  Can they sustain the success?  Will they change their ways? Or will they become another loaded with talent flub like the Edmonton Oilers?

Mike Babcock on the other hand, had a team that was decimated with injuries all year long.  Far too often finding themselves without the likes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk and icing a lineup that reflected the Grand Rapids Griffins on a regular basis.  People were certain that this would be the year that the Red Wings missed the playoffs in over 20 years.  Instead, you found a top half of the league possession team, who managed to pull themselves into the playoffs. AGAIN.

It’s a travesty that Babcock doesn’t already have an Adams. This year is as good as any to give him one. He deserves it.

What do you think?

So, am I completely wrong here?  Do you agree with me completely? (You should, I’m a smrt dude). Let me know in the comments section! 

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I write things, you read them. Then tend to yell at me for them. It's okay though, I'm from Winnipeg. I can take it. If you actually do like what I write, give me a twitter follow here (@thrubeniuk): https://twitter.com/thrubeniuk
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