photo via: si.com
It’s a little past the half-way point of the NHL season, so over at BTI we figured why not take some time to let you know who we feel should be taking home some hardware at season’s end!
We figured you’re probably going to be highly critical of most of our picks, since we hate your favourite team, so we’ve done you the favour of attaching everyone’s twitter handles (and a link to their account!) right here:
We have host of the OT Podcast Josh Goodings (@Jgoodz97), writer Brayden Engel (@beauengs) as well as the three co-hosts of BTI Live Tyler Yaremchuk (@ty89yar), Liam Horrobin (@LiamHorrobin) and Devin Horne (@dudeits_devin)
Enjoy and let us know how you feel about our picks!
Tyler Yaremchuk: Connor McDavid
This was tough for me, I see guys like Crosby and Dubnyk having outstanding seasons. But when you look at the fact he is the league’s leading scorer on one of the most improved teams in the league. You can’t ignore that. McDavid gets my vote. He might get 100 points as well, which usually makes you a lock to bring home some hardware. He’s also turned Pat Maroon into an Edmonton legend, and making players around you better is what a true MVP does.
Devin Horne: Sidney Crosby
Another star returning from injury and Crosby has come out guns blazing. After missing the first six games due to another concussion, Crosby now leads the league in goals and is second in points behind Connor McDavid, but it’s a close race. This is still Crosby’s league and barring injury he’ll take home his third MVP award. Connor will have to wait another year. (runner up: Connor McDavid)
Brayden Engel: Connor McDavid
McDavid has a point on 39% of Edmonton’s goals this year. Those are ball hockey numbers. Despite an underperforming Lucic, Eberle, and RNH, Edmonton’s captain has them poised for a playoff spot for the first time since 2006. (runner up: Sidney Crosby)
Liam Horobin: Connor McDavid
McDavid is one of two reasons why the Oilers are in playoffs talks right now. Without McDavid, the Oilers would really struggle to even win games. If Pittsburgh didn’t have Crosby at least they have Malkin, Letang, and Kessel, but if the Oilers lose McDavid they’ve got Eberle who can’t hit a barn.
Josh Goodings: Connor McDavid
On the eve of his 20th birthday, McDavid got his league leading 50th point. He’s been in the #1 point spot for the majority of the season, and although Crosby has a better PPG (1.27 PPG to McDavid’s 1.11 PPG), McDavid doesn’t have 2 other teammates in the to 10 of scoring like Crosby does (Malkin and Kessel.) I still believe Crosby is the best player in the world, but McDavid is a close second and is simply more valuable to the Oilers than Sid is to the Penguins. (Runner Up: Sidney Crosby)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Devan Dubnyk
Wasn’t as tough of a decision as the Hart trophy. This is a two-horse race in my opinion. Dubnyk vs Bobrovsky. Dubnyk has all the better numbers and has been a huge reason why his team is in a playoff spot. But on the other hand Bobrovsky is close in all the basic goalie stats but has led this team on a historic run, and we’ve also seen how poor the Jackets are without Bobrovsky. In the end my scale tips slight towards Dubnyk, so he gets my vote.
Devin Horne: Carey Price
The obvious and unanimous choice is Devan Dubnyk. He’s leading nearly every goaltending statistic category and I’m happy to see him doing well, even if it’s with the Wild. However, Carey Price is showing us how truly vital goaltending is to your team. The Habs plummeted without Price in net last season, and I thought for sure his return alone wouldn’t bring them back to the top of the standings. I was way off; if the Habs continue like this you can expect a deep playoff run this year. (runner up: Devan Dubnyk)
Brayden Engel: Devan Dubnyk
He leads the league in GAA, SV%, high danger SV% and shutouts, and 2nd in wins. While sheltered with a great D corps, he is 8th in average distance of shots faced and the main reason Minnesota has the highest PTS% in the West. (runner up: Braden Holtby)
Liam Horobin: Carey Price
I’m with Devin on this one. If it wasn’t for Price who knows where the Canadians would be sitting right now with all the injuries they’ve had. I think the Habs goalie should be in consideration for the Hart which makes him the number one guy for the Vezina. (runner up: Devan Dubnyk or Sergei Bobrovsky)
Josh Goodings: Devan Dubnyk
I’m with Tyler on this one. Although Carey Price is the best goalie alive, Dubnyk and Bobrovsky have had outstanding seasons and are some of the biggest reasons for their team’s success. I gave Dubnyk the edge due to him leading the league in SV% (.940), GAA (1.77). Along with 22 wins (second behind only Bobrovsky) and 5 shutouts (second to Holtby). (Runner Up: Sergei Bobrovsky)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Victor Hedman
I demand that this is the year Victor Hedman gets some respect, I want that respect to come in the form of a Norris Trophy. Do you want to talk about an all-around defenseman? The 6’6 d-man is a prime example. He logs heavy minutes (24.29/per game) and averages close to 2 shots per game. He produces as well with 38 assists in 44 games on a Lightning team that hasn’t lived up to the hype. Burns is my runner up because he’s been sensational as well.
Devin Horne: Shea Weber
The Weber/Subban trade deal is still puzzling to me, but I’m really hoping P.K. puts out a tell-all autobiography one day so we can finally hear the nitty gritty details. Too bad he’s been lackluster so far in Nashville, Shea Weber, on the other hand, is on pace for a career year. I think he’s just as aware of his advancing age and albatross of a contract as we all are. Shea Weber will be looking to make the most of his remaining good years and if the Habs continue deep into the postseason you can be sure Weber will earn his first Norris trophy. Playing under the spotlight in Montreal only helps his case. (runner up: Brent Burns)
Brayden Engel: Brent Burns
The Barrie, Ont. native is 6th in league scoring and shares the shocking 39% stat with McDavid, doing so more impressively because of his blue line duties. While not particularly blowing the defensive stats out of the water, what Burns is doing from the backend deserves recognition. (runner up: Shea Weber)
Liam Horrobin: Brent Burns
He’s a point per game player in a season where only two other defensemen even rank in the top 50. Much like what Brayden said, Burns may not be having the must eye-catching defensive year but what’s doing for his team offensively is truly magical. It’s time that Burns was rewarded with some hardware. (runner up: Victor Hedman)
Josh Goodings: Brent Burns
As Liam and Brayden put it, Burns is having an outstanding season. 6th in the NHL with 44 points, on pace for 84 points. Of his 44 points, 31 of the are 5v5 pts. He’s also rocking a decent CF% at 52.6%. He’s simply been the best defensemen up until this point in the season. (Runner Up: Erik Karlsson)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Auston Matthews
He will likely win this award unanimously. He’s that good, you knew that. But what if he breaks his collarbone and can’t finish the season? That’s when the award should go to my guy Zach Werenski. He’s been an absolute stud on the blueline. He shoots, he limits the opposing team’s chances. He’s a dream blueliner, and he’s only a rookie. But ya, Matthews will win for reasons you already knew.
Devin Horne: Patrick Laine
Leading all rookies in scoring Patrick Laine is the obvious choice for rookie of the year. Yes, Auston Mathews is probably the better player to build your team around. The pure goal scoring of Laine is just beyond exciting, if he doesn’t miss too many games due to this concussion he’s a clear pick for the Calder trophy at year’s end. (runner up: Auston Matthews)
Brayden Engel: Auston Matthews
“The Matthiah” sits 2nd in goals/game in the NHL, despite a highly publicized 13 game goalless drought. He’s done it without the setup man that other guy in Winnipeg has been graced with. (runner up: Zach Werenski)
Liam Horobin: Auston Matthews
Matthews made a statement in his first NHL game and has continued to do so for the entire season. As long as he can maintain his good form and remain off the IR, Matthews shouldn’t have any problems winning this award. (runner up: Mitch Marner)
Josh Goodings: Auston Matthews
Despite blowing everyone away by scoring 4 goals in his NHL debut Auston Matthews took a backseat to Patrick Laine in the first quarter of the season. By the time each player hit their 19th NHL game Laine had 12 goals and Matthews was on a 13 game goalless drought. Mainstream media began pegging Laine as the superior player and an elite scorer. Matthews then broke that goal drought in Game 20 and since then has 15 goals and 9 assists for 24 points in 22 games. Matthews showed what he is truly capable of and now sits tied with Laine. Each player has 21G/16A/37PTs, Matthews in 41 games, Laine in 42. Both will be elite players for years to come but in my opinion, Matthews is clearly the superior player. (Runner Up: Patrick Laine)
Tyler Yaremchuk: John Tortorella
Not only were expectations low for John Tortorella coming off of the World Cup of Hockey, many just assumed he would be fired again by November. Not the case. The revitalized Torts has learned to balance his screaming with patience and that’s paid dividends with youngsters Zach Werenski, Josh Anderson and Alex Wennberg. He has a team playing very hard for him every night, and that makes him coach of the year to this point. (runner up: Bruce Boudreau)
Devin Horne: John Tortorella
I am no fan of Torts, it seems like wherever he goes the same pattern is sure to follow. The first season comes into a lowly team and starts screaming, the team response and things improve. This only lasts for two maybe three seasons and sure enough grown men are tired of being screamed at and they tune him out. Now this could still happen in Columbus, but if they continue to absolutely dominate Tortorella and the Jackets have a bright future. Here’s hoping it lasts. (runner up: Michel Therrien)
Brayden Engel: John Tortorella
The World Cup doesn’t count, right? Okay. A 16 game win streak and 1st in the NHL when almost no one had them even making the playoffs puts you on track to be the first coach to win multiple Jack Adams’ since Pat Burns did it in 1998. (runner up: Bruce Boudreau)
Liam Horobin: John Tortorella
I would love to be different but how can you be when you have a guy who’s just coached a team to 16 straight. Out of the 19 season prediction, I read on NHL.com only one of them believed the Jackets could make the playoffs. If those analysts did their predictions today I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of them had them to win it all. Tortorella has turned this team into a contender. (runner up: Todd McCellan)
Josh Goodings: Bruce Boudreau
Yea, I’ll be that guy. I honestly was planning on taking the layup and going with Torts, and I think what he and the Blue Jackets have done this season is amazing, but what Boudreau and the Wild are doing is right up there. To be honest, I didn’t have the Wild making the playoffs this season, maybe a wildcard spot at best, but here they are atop the Western Conference and 3rd in the NHL. They currently have 1 less point than CBJ in the same amount of games, but the reason I chose Boudreau is because unlike Tortorella, he’s brand new to his team. He started this year fresh with his new team, whereas Tortorella had the majority of last year to get to know his group. That puts Boudreau ahead for me. (Runner Up: Torts)
BOUNCE BACK PLAYER
Tyler Yaremchuk: Sam Gagner
From a highly touted junior player to assumed draft bust, to the AHL and now he’s an offensive threat on an elite NHL team. If that’s not a bounce back, then I don’t know what is. Players like Carey Price or Connor McDavid may have bounced back from injury, but Gagner has come from the brink of being gone from the league, that’s impressive. My runner up is Justin Schultz, who’s finally hit his stride in the league and may have found a home (and a proper role) in Pittsburgh.
Devin Horne: Carey Price
Carey Price looks incredibly after coming back from his MCL sprain last season. Montreal was a huge question mark for me this year if Price is healthy would they jump back to their competitive selves? Or would they continue to slump, revealing deeper problems than an injured netminder? Carey Price took no time at all to silence his doubters, becoming the first goalie to win 10 games this season. (runner up: Sam Gagner)
Brayden Engel: Tyler Seguin
Liam Horobin: Sam Gagner
The man’s NHL career seemed to be over until John Tortorella made potentially the signing of the off season. Gagner is on pace for 60 points which is more than the “all stars” Bo Horvat and Vincent Trocheck. The Blue Jackets forward has blown us all away this season with his performance, no doubt in my mind that he wins this award. (runner up: Justin Schultz)
Josh Goodings: Sam Gagner
As Tyler and Liam pointed out Gagner’s bounce back is not just having a bad year and coming back to his normal ways this year. Gagner’s NHL career was in jeopardy. After a decent run with the Oilers for 7 seasons and a year with the Coyotes, Gagner landed with the Flyers last season and it was the worst season of his career, resulting in him being sent down to the AHL and desperately looking for an NHL contract this past summer. Columbus picked him up on a 1 year 650K deal, which is looking like one of the best contracts in the league this year as Gagner is on pace for a career-high 60 points. (Runner Up: Justin Schultz)