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My 2020-21 NHL Awards Ballot

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I was honored to be one of 100 PHWA writers selected to vote for this year’s NHL Awards.

We voted on six trophies (Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng, Selke, Masterton) and both the All-Star and All-Rookie Teams.

Here’s how I voted for the Hart, Norris, Calder, and All-Star and All-Rookie teams. I’ve talked about my Lady Byng, Selke, and Masterton votes here:

My 2021 Awards Ballot: Why Marleau for Masterton? Why Not Matthews for Lady Byng?

Hart Trophy

Connor McDavid was the winner. Here was my vote:

1. Connor McDavid
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy
3. Adam Fox
4. Nathan MacKinnon
5. Aleksander Barkov

Not surprisingly, Connor McDavid and his 105 points in 56 games takes it.

What might be interesting about my vote is the inclusion of a goaltender and a defenseman. That’s a shift in my MVP voting philosophy: Last year, I did vote Connor Hellebuyck as my Hart runner-up, but in my previous two seasons as a voter, I went with all forwards.

The Hart Trophy is traditionally forward territory: Since 1973, just one defenseman (Chris Pronger, 1999) and three goalies (Dominik Hasek 1997, 1998; Jose Theodore, 2002; Carey Price, 2015) have won the MVP. That’s five instances in the last 48 seasons.

Being that the Hart Trophy is for the most valuable PLAYER and not the most valuable forward, it’s time to push back on that trend. The forwards get their shine elsewhere — the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard, the Selke — and there isn’t an award that truly pits the positions against each other. And hey, why not add an award for the best forward a la the Norris for defensemen and the Vezina for goaltenders, call it the Gordie Howe or Wayne Gretzky Trophy?

So expect to see a lot of defensemen and goalies on my Hart ballot in the years to come.

For what it’s worth, my PHWA colleagues aren’t with my thinking: I was the only voter to give Fox a top-five vote and one of two voters to pick Vasilevskiy as my Hart runner-up.

Here’s the final PHWA vote:

Norris Trophy

Adam Fox was the winner. Here was my vote:

1. Adam Fox
2. Charlie McAvoy
3. Dougie Hamilton
4. Darnell Nurse
5. Cale Makar

Maybe the biggest surprise in my vote was leaving two finalists out of my top-four: I had Cale Makar fifth and Victor Hedman off my ballot entirely.

For Makar (22.63 DZF%), he faced a much softer percentage of Defensive Zone faceoffs at 5-on-5 than Fox (33.07), Charlie McAvoy (31.99), Dougie Hamilton (32.54), and Darnell Nurse (29.57). Unless the defenseman is overwhelmingly impactful on offense compared to his peers, I generally look for a better-balanced blueliner in my Norris vote. Also, Makar faced the easiest competition of this bunch — he was a little sheltered.

Meanwhile, Hedman suffered a self-acknowledged “lull” this season — at his best, he’s probably the best all-around defenseman in this group, but this wasn’t his finest campaign.

Calder Trophy

Kirill Kaprizov was the winner. Here was my vote:

1. Kirill Kaprizov
2. Jason Robertson
3. Alex Nedeljkovic
4. Igor Shesterkin
5. Yegor Sharangovich

So why Yegor Sharangovich over ex-San Jose Sharks prospect Josh Norris? Their production wasn’t far apart — Sharangovich had 30 points in 54 games, while Norris had 35 in 56 — but I always admire a rookie who’s depended on for hard minutes. Sharangovich averaged 1:47 a night on the PK, while Norris averaged seven seconds a night short-handed.

All-Star Team

These are your 2020-21 NHL First and Second All-Star Teams:

Here are my votes:

Center

1. Connor McDavid
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Auston Matthews

Right Wing

1. Mitch Marner
2. Mark Stone
3. Patrick Kane

It might be a surprise to see Mikko Rantanen off my ballot: Mitch Marner and Mark Stone are two-way guys with a ton of offense, that holds a lot of weight with me, while Patrick Kane, like Rantanen, is more one-dimensional. So between Kane and Rantanen, I think Kane is more valuable to his team and still a better player.

Left Wing

1. Brad Marchand
2. Artemi Panarin
3. Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin has slowed down, but he’s still the straw that stirs Washington’s drink. He did miss 11 games, but Panarin missed 14.

It was close between Jonathan Huberdeau and Ovechkin, but I do vote a little by team too as a tiebreaker, insofar as I try to reward all the playoff teams with a vote somewhere on my ballot. So I had Huberdeau’s Florida teammate Aleksander Barkov high on my Hart, Selke, and Lady Byng votes — but no Washington anywhere.

It wouldn’t have been outlandish to give San Jose Sharks Team MVP Evander Kane a vote here either, but it’s hard to say he was better than a pretty deep left wing class that also included Ovechkin, Huberdeau, Alex DeBrincat, and Kirill Kaprizov, not to mention Brad Marchand and Panarin.

Defense

1. Adam Fox
2. Charlie McAvoy
3. Dougie Hamilton
4. Darnell Nurse
5. Cale Makar
6. Kris Letang

Goaltender

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy
2. Marc-Andre Fleury
3. Connor Hellebuyck

Marc-Andre Fleury had a tremendous season, but Vasilevskiy deserved the Vezina this year. Feels like something of a lifetime achievement award for the very likable Fleury, who had never even been a Vezina finalist before this season. The Vezina is GM-voted, by the way.

I’m not saying that Fleury didn’t deserve his first Vezina nom — he’s my All-Star runner-up for a reason — but Vasilevskiy deserved the trophy nod, in my opinion.

All-Rookie Team

This is your 2020-21 NHL All-Rookie Team:

Here’s my vote:

Forward

1. Kirill Kaprizov
2. Jason Robertson
3. Yegor Sharangovich

Defense

1. Mikey Anderson
2. K’Andre Miller

Both Mikey Anderson and K’Andre Miller played over 20 minutes a night, a lot of PK time too. That’s always tough for a rookie defenseman and is the reason why I went with them over the more offensive Ty Smith, who tapered off after a hot start.

San Jose Sharks Rookie of the Year Nikolai Knyzhov could’ve merited a lower vote too.

Goaltender

1. Alex Nedeljkovic

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[…] My 2020-21 NHL Awards Ballot – Sheng Peng (San Jose Hockey Now) […]

[…] San Jose Hockey Now”s Sheng Peng was one of the writers who got to vote on the NHL Awards. Sheng published his ballot and his reasons why. You’ll like some…You’ll not like others¬† […]

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