A few weeks ago, I got an email letting me know that I was invited to take part in the inaugural Professional Hockey Bloggers Association vote for NHL Awards. I didn't know such an organization actually exists, but I would fit the bill for three of those four words. Anyway, the vote was for the major awards: the Hart, the Vezina, the Calder, the Adams, the Norris, the Selke, and the Lady Byng. I realized it was due soon and so I hastily put a ballot together and sent it in.
Today, the full results are up at The Royal Half and I'm kind of regretting some of my choices. On some awards, I was in line with most of my fellow bloggers. On others, I clearly went off the board. In total, I was responsible for most of the few votes that went to New Jersey Devils players. It's time to look - and laugh - at my choices side-by-side with where they ranked in the voting along with the winners chosen by the others.
Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)
|Rk||Hart - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Sidney Crosby||1st - 615||Sidney Crosby|
|2||Patrice Bergeon||6th - 71||Ryan Getzlaf|
|3||Anze Kopitar||14th - 19||Claude Giroux|
|4||Jaromir Jagr||26th - 3||Seymon Varlamov|
|5||Alexander Ovechkin||8th - 33||Tyler Seguin|
Sidney Crosby was fantastic again, a big reason why the Penguins finished where they were. Beyond him, my ballot didn't do so well. Patrice Bergeron was the best two-way forward in the NHL and was supreme in possession. Anze Kopitar was right behind him in my opinion, so he came third. I decided to throw in the first of three "homer" picks: Jaromir Jagr. We named him MVP of the Devils and I really do think the Devils would have been much, much worse without his play in 2013-14. Lastly, I threw a fifth place vote to the league's leading goal scorer for the same rationale: the Capitals would have been much, much worse if Ovechkin wasn't a goal scoring machine. Of course, the crowd followed with Anaheim's second best forward, Claude Giroux, the hotness of Seymon Varlamov, and Dallas' second best forward. Oh well.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I would have made Jagr fifth and made Joe Pavelski fourth. Sorry, your coach didn't know how to utilize you better, Ovechkin.
Lady Byng Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player)
|Rk||Byng - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Ryan O'Reilly||1st - 573||Ryan O'Reilly|
|2||Frans Neilsen||5th - 77||Tyler Seguin|
|3||Cam Fowler||30th - 6||Martin St. Louis|
|4||Nick Leddy||19th - 13||Marcus Johansson|
|5||Tyler Bozak||60th - 1||Frans Neilsen|
Ryan O'Reilly played under 20 minutes a night for 80 games and took one minor penalty. Deserved winner. I favored the significant-playing-and-producing-player with few penalty minutes. I gave some love to two defensemen: Cam Fowler and Nick Leddy. They played a lot and in their position, they can be prone to fouls and such based on the run of play. That they were so disciplined impressed me. Few agreed with me on that front. At I least I wasn't totally alone like I was for Tyler Bozak. I'm not sure how Martin St. Louis got so many votes given his public spat with Tampa Bay about a trade but whatever.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I probably would have put in Seguin over Bozak and Marcus "4 PIM" Johansson over Fowler.
Vezina Trophy (Most Outstanding Goaltender)
|Rk||Vezina - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Tuukka Rask||1st - 552||Tuukka Rask|
|2||Carey Price||4th - 256||Seymon Varlamov|
|3||Seymon Varlamov||2nd - 402||Ben Bishop|
|4||Ben Bishop||3rd - 292||Carey Price|
|5||Jonathan Bernier||6th - 41||Sergei Bobrovsky|
I did my ballot almost solely on the basis of even strength save percentage. Tuukka Rask ruled the world in this regard. The only exception was switching Ben Bishop and Jonathan Bernier. I flip-flopped them on the basis of Bishop's stronger penalty kill save percentage. I didn't deviate too much from the actual winners. Segei Bobrovsky was just on the outside based on my criteria so I don't think that's too bad. I still would have favored Bernier given the relatively defenseless team he played behind all season.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I would change nothing about this ballot.
Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)
|Rk||Selke - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Patrice Bergeon||1st - 576||Patrice Bergeon|
|2||Anze Kopitar||2nd - 373||Anze Kopitar|
|3||Jonathan Toews||3rd - 247||Jonathan Toews|
|4||Travis Zajac||23rd - 7||David Backes|
|5||Alexander Steen||6th - 29||David Krejci|
I favored Bergeron over Kopitar on the basis of Bergeron receiving tougher zone starts than Kopitar and Toews while maintaining a supreme possession percentage. The larger consensus agreed, though not necessarily for the same reason. I made my second "homer" pick in giving a vote to Travis Zajac. He's basically like Toews: great possession, plays significant tough minutes on a top defensive team at evens, significant minutes on a successful PK unit, and has to carry Jaromir Jagr and his idea of defense. I wasn't alone, but only Hockee Night felt similarly. I decided to give my fifth place vote for similar reasons to Alex Steen of St. Louis. I can understand Zajac not making the final five. But Backes over Steen? I don't know. And Krejci? Come on.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: Actually, I would change nothing about this ballot. I'm keeping my homer pick for New Jersey's Toews.
Calder Trophy (Most Outstanding Rookie)
|Rk||Calder - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Nathan MacKinnon||1st - 628||Nathan MacKinnon|
|2||Ondrej Palat||2nd - 360||Ondrej Palat|
|3||Torey Krug||4th - 134||Tyler Johnson|
|4||Sean Monahan||12th - 14||Torey Krug|
|5||Seth Jones||11th - 22||Olli Maatta|
It was the Nathan MacKinnon show among rookies. Any doubts about him going #1 last season are surely erased. Ondrej Palat was also really impressive. Torey Krug was given a more sheltered, attacking role and ran with it. Sean Monahan was quite productive on a crummy Calgary team. I liked how Seth Jones was doing on a top pairing, so I gave him a fifth place vote. Of course, looking back, I'm ashamed I forgot all about Tyler Johnson. Sorry, Tampa Bay fans.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I would have included Tyler Johnson. Probably in third, so move Krug, Monahan, and Jones down.
Norris Trophy (Most Outstanding Defenseman)
|Rk||Norris - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Drew Doughty||6th - 111||Duncan Keith|
|2||Erik Karlsson||5th - 124||Zdeno Chara|
|3||Marc-Edouard Vlasic||10th - 59||Shea Weber|
|4||Mark Giordano||7th - 108||Alex Pietrangelo|
|5||Andy Greene||23rd - 1||Erik Karlsson|
Oh, man, did I whiff big on this one. I honestly over-thought this one to not include Duncan Keith or Zdeno Chara. I thought better of guys who were better in possession and/or didn't get loads of offensive zone starts. Therefore, I favored Drew Doughty (2nd in CF%), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (3rd and with sub-50% zone starts), and gave a shoutout to Mark Giordano. He had a remarkable +10.6% CF Rel%. That's the best the NHL, better than Bergeron; Calgary could have used him all season but injuries denied that possibility. Scored a lot, too. Again, if only he wasn't injured. I gave a third "homer" pick to Andy Greene, the best defenseman on the stingiest team in the league. His analytics were also good but I can understand being alone on that. Anyway, I whiffed at the top. I only matched the offensive and not-at-all-bad-defensively Erik Karlsson in the top five. That said, I'm not sure how Shea Weber got so many votes for a guy who didn't finish in the top 50 in either CF% or CF% Rel. Yes, he got plenty of defensive zone starts but so did others who actually finished above 50%. Oh well.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I would've included Keith fourth, Giordano fifth, and then state here how Greene was my #6 or #7. I still stand by Vlasic having an awesome season.
Adams Trophy (Most Outstanding Coach)
|Rk||Adams - JF Vote||Finish||PHBA Winners|
|1||Darryl Sutter||10th - 33||Patrick Roy|
|2||Joel Quenneville||13th - 14||Mike Babcock|
|3||Todd McLellan||11th - 29||Jon Cooper|
|4||Claude Julien||4th - 137||Claude Julien|
|5||Ken Hitchcock||8th - 49||Bruce Boudreau|
Coaches are all about systems. You know what measures systems well? Possession. So I picked the top five teams in score-adjusted 5-on-5 Fenwick%. In order: Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, Boston, and St. Louis. Yes, Peter DeBoer would've been my #6 guy. I would stand by it. Clearly, others felt differently. The larger group preferred strong, "unexpected" seasons; hence the love for Roy, Cooper, and Boudreau. I know Boudreau can coach - and so do Caps fans - but the other two may find themselves in trouble if/when their goalies aren't super-good.
If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I like my way better by way of evidence. I keep this ballot I made.
As a final thought, my three "homer" picks were among the few for Devils among the entire group. Cory Schneider did get a fourth-place votes for the Vezina by Hockee Night and a fifth-place vote by Days of Y'Orr. I wish there was some other Devils getting some notice but I can't say I'm all that surprised. So it goes with a team that missed the playoffs with it's standout players not having big point totals.
In any case, this is how I voted for the PHBA. I thank the organizers for including me and apologize for some of my more bizarre selections. It was a good exercise. Who would you have voted for if it were your decision? Which ones did I screw up the worst on? (Probably the Norris.) Were my "homer" picks somewhat defensible? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the NHL Awards for 2013-14 in the comments. Thank you for reading.