The NHL ended its regular season last week and handed out some of its end-of-season awards.

Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak shared the the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top goal scorer, with 48 goals. It was the ninth win for the Capitals captain and first for the Bruins forward. This is the third time the award will be shared and first since Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby tied with 51 goals in 2009-10.

Leon Draisaitl easily won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points, and Boston goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak earn the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (167 goals in 70 games played, 2.39 goals allowed per game). Along with those individual awards, the Boston Bruins get the Presidents’ Trophy for leading the league standings with 100 points.

The rest of the major end-of-season awards are subject to vote. What follows is a look at the most deserving players for those awards.

Hart Trophy — most valuable player

Most deserving: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

This award is given to “the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team,” with every voter left to decide what the term valuable means for themselves. To be valuable a player must contribute to wins and that’s been proven in the voting record. Every Hart winner since 2005-06 has ranked in the top three for point shares, a modification of Bill James’s wins shares used in Major League Baseball, with the NHL version determining how many standings points a player contributed. This year that short list includes David Pastrnak, Draisaitl and Artemi Panarin.

Draisaitl won his first Art Ross Trophy with 110 points, making him the only player to reach the 100-point plateau this season. The 24-year-old also finished 13 points ahead of teammate Connor McDavid, a former Hart Trophy winner himself, who was second. If we adjust Draisaitl’s point tally to an 82-game schedule with other caveats to make an apples-to-apples comparison to players from different eras he projects to 128 adjusted points, good enough for 38th on the all-time adjusted points list and the same as the reigning Hart winner Nikita Kucherov had last season.

Plus, Draisaitl also led the league in goals created, another metric illustrating his importance to his club.

One more thing. Before you try and argue Draisaitl had a phenomenal season because he and McDavid skate together often, consider Draisaitl skated 610 minutes at even strength without McDavid on the ice this season and the Oilers outscored opponents 35 to 26 during that time.

“I think I’ve always been more of the pass-first type of guy, but I knew early on in my career in the NHL that I have to be a threat to shoot once in a while, too, otherwise I’m too predictable,” Draisaitl said. “It’s just something I’ve worked on constantly during the summer, in season, whenever it was, so it’s something I had to put into my game.”

Norris Trophy — best defenseman

Most deserving: John Carlson, Washington Capitals

John Carlson scored a career-high 75 points (15 goals, 60 assists) in 69 games, 10 more points than any other defenseman this season. His 1.09 points-per-game average is the best scoring season by a defenseman since 1993-94 and the highest since a lockout claimed the 2004-05 campaign. He was on track for 90 points, which would be the highest point total for a defenseman since Seregi Zubov in 1993-94.

Plus, he skated almost 25 minutes a night, the 10th most ice time for a blueliner in 2019-20. That includes a league-high four minutes per game on the power play unit and 1 minute and 30 seconds per contest with the penalty kill. His defense with the latter special teams could be challenged, yet opponents had a relatively low quality of shot when he was on the ice (6.4 expected goals against per 60 minutes, 37th out of 104 qualified defensemen).

Vezina Trophy — best goalie

Most deserving: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Goaltenders have to make saves and two netminders stood above the rest, Rask of the Boston Bruins and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Those two were virtually even in goals saved compared to what you would expect from an average netminder facing a similar rate of shots against, too. However, Rask was much better than Hellebuyck on the penalty kill.

For example, Rask posted a save percentage of .939 at even strength this season, stopping 10 more goals than you would expect from high-danger areas such as the slot or crease, per data from Natural Stat Trick. Hellebuyck posted a .927 save rate with nine more high-danger goals saved than average. On the penalty kill, Rask not only had a higher save percentage than Hellebuyck, .886 to .872, he saved his team two high-danger goals over average whereas Hellebuyck allowed six more than expected.

Calder Memorial Trophy — rookie of the year

Most deserving: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks led all rookies with 53 points in 68 games. Makar has 50 points in 57 games. Hughes got slightly more ice time (21 minutes and 53 seconds) than Makar (21 minutes a night) but Hughes was more sheltered, starting 275 of his 660 faceoffs in the attacking zone (42%) compared to 202 of 521 face offs (39%) for Makar.

Makar had more primary points at even strength (eight goals and 13 primary assists) than Hughes (five goals plus 11 primary assists) and also generated more primary points per 60 minutes (1.3 compared to 0.8 for Hughes), making him more valuable. Secondary assists can be assigned arbitrarily and power play time is at the coach’s discretion, making primary points at even strength the better evaluator of production. Makar also led all rookies in point shares, putting another result in his favor.

Jack Adams Award — coach of the year

Most deserving: Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia Flyers

The Jack Adams Award is bestowed by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association to “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” It can be hard to evaluate how much a team’s performance is due to the players or the coach, but I think we can all agree expectations are important. After all, if you coach a team that is expected to make a run at the Presidents’ Trophy you shouldn’t get extra credit for winning the Presidents’ Trophy.

To determine expectations, we will look at the preseason point percentage set by the oddsmakers and compare that to a team’s actual point percentage earned during the regular season. If a team exceeds those expectations then their coach deserves some praise. This method isn’t a fail-safe way to establish expectations but it is a decent enough proxy. We will also use the odds for each team to make the playoffs. For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets had an implied playoff probability of 70% in the preseason but an actual playoff probability of 34% per Hockey Reference at the time of the season’s end (not including the change to a 24-team format), hardly living up to expectations in this case.

Alain Vigneault, on the other hand, guided his Philadelphia Flyers to 89 points (41-21-7) and a second-place finish in the Metropolitan division, earning the club a bye week through the play-in round. They were expected to earn 90 or 91 points over a full season, which equates to 76 points over their 69-game shortened season, exceeding expectations by 13 points. They were also only given a 50-50 chance to make the playoffs before the puck dropped on the regular season.


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