As we approach the halfway mark of the NHL season and into the new year, here is a look at from very own Wyatt Zieger and Ian Sheppard on who the midseason award winners are.
Bill Peters came into Calgary this season replacing Glen Gulatzen and has the Flames sitting atop the Pacific division at New Years. I’m not going to say Bill Peters turned Calgary around; they were already a good team, they were just sick of the message. It still takes a good coach to bring a good team into greatness, and that may be what we’re seeing in Calgary. Carolina let one hell of a coach go.
Runners-up: Jon Cooper (TBL), Phil Housley (BUF)
Phil Housley. No one predicted the Buffalo Sabres would be sitting in a playoff spot coming out of the Christmas break. In his second season as Head Coach of the Sabres Housley has his team in primed position to make a playoff run. The team finished all last year with 62 points and are already just 18 away from that mark with 47 through 38 games.
Runners-up: Bill Peters(CGY), Jon Cooper (TBL)
Without John Gibson starting for the Ducks, Anaheim would be a basement dwelling team this year. Despite Anaheim being 28th in goals for, Gibson has kept the Ducks in the playoff hunt into the new year. If Anaheim does make the playoffs, it will be on Gibson’s back which should also garner him some Hart votes as well.
Runners-up: Pekka Rinne (NSH), Jaroslav Halak (BOS)
John Gibson. Hands down. He’s been the backbone of the Ducks this year and is the only thing keeping them in the hunt for a playoff spot. He leads the league amongst starters in save percentage with a .927 SV% and is sporting a 2.53 GAA. He is dealing with a sore back right now with a day-to-day status, but should he recover from that and continue the same trend he’ll be the number one candidate for the Vezina.
Runner-ups: Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK), Frederick Anderson (TML)
Morgan Rielly has taken the league by storm this year. Well over a point-per-game and truly looking like that number one defensemen the Leafs have been missing for years. Without Rielly, Toronto’s D-core looks like Jake Gardiner and a handful of janitors. Did you know that no Leafs defensemen has ever won the Norris? History could be made.
Runners-up: Mark Giordano (CGY), Jon Carlson (WSH)
Morgan Reilly. Reilly leads all defensemen with 44 points (13G-31A). He’s also been the best defensemen on a Leafs team that was said to be weak at the position. He has a +26 through 38 games and averages just over 22 minutes of ice time a night. He’s holding a goal per 60 of .915 and points per 60 of 3.097.
Runners-up: Thomas Chabot (OTT), Mark Giordano (CGY)
Enough can’t be said about Vancouver Canucks rookie phenom, Elias Pettersson. He’s the only rookie over a point-per-game and also the only rookie leading his team in points. He has a laser of a shot and has a good chance of passing Auston Matthews 40 goal mark in his rookie campaign.
Runners-up: Rasmus Dahlin (BUF), Brady Tkachuk (OTT)
Elias Pettersson. This kid has been nothing but a playmaker for the Canucks through the first three months of the season. He’s totalled 38 points (18G-20A) and has already drawn comparisons to Connor McDavid and even The Great One. But without getting too far ahead with comparisons, this kid is elusive, explosive and one of the league’s best playmakers already.
Runners-up: Brady Tkachuk (OTT), Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)
This year Aleksander Barkov will finally get some of the recognition he truly deserves. Barkov is already one of the games most elite two way forwards, and this season he’s second in takeaways with 54 and has drawn 27 penalties while only taking one this season. Barkov should easily walk away with the Selke since the usual competition; Patrice Bergeron has missed time from injuries, as well as Anze Kopitar and the Kings who are having a down year defensively.
Runners-up: Mark Stone, Mark Scheiffle
Mark Stone. Stone currently leads the league amongst forwards with 59 takeaways to only 34 giveaways. He also holds a +11 and has 41 points (17G-24A) on the year. He also has 31 blocked shots and 33 hits on the year. He’s going to see some solid competition from Alex Barkov, but I’m giving Stone the edge.
Runners up: Aleksander Barkov, Dylan Larkin
After finishing second to Taylor Hall for the Hart last season, MacKinnon had something to prove. Mackinnon drives the play for Colorado with his explosive skating and is one of the most fun players to watch in the NHL. Av’s don’t sniff the playoffs without him and MacKinnon staying healthy could be the key to a deep playoff run.
Runners-up: John Gibson, Connor McDavid
Nathan MacKinnon. I mentioned this is a previous edition of The Friday Three. Over the last two seasons, MacKinnon has proved his name belongs to be thrown into the hat for the Hart Trophy. He Is currently third in the league in scoring and is a huge contribution to the Avalanche holding a top three spot in the Central with 44 points.
Runners-up: Connor McDavid, John Gibson