I was watching TV last night when I saw an ad for a candidate running for President in 2020. That got me thinking. We’re already a month into the NHL season, should we start the campaign for Golden Knights to win individual awards?
I was still lukewarm on the idea, seeing as Vegas has only played 13 games and the awards show is seven months away. But then, my mind was instantly changed.
A second ad for Tom Steyer!
I figured if Tom is already trying to get my vote in November of 2020, it’s fair for me to start talking/writing about Mark Stone winning the Hart, Cody Glass for Calder, or Valentin Zykov for Masterton (he’s got about as much a chance as Tom 2020, right?)
Hart Trophy – Most Valuable Player
VGK Candidate: Mark Stone
Stone currently sits in 9th place in both goals and points through the first month of the season. Of course, in order to win the Hart, he’ll need to jump into the top five at the very least, but a 100+ point effort from one of the league’s best defensive forwards would definitely warrant consideration. If Stone can keep on this pace, he’ll be pushing the century mark and he’ll likely be doing it for a team that’s running away with the Pacific Division by March. Honestly, it will probably take an injury or two to a few of the main candidates, but the longer Stone stays in the top 10 in points, the stronger the candidacy will get.
Vezina Trophy – Top Goaltender
VGK Candidate: Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury currently leads the league in wins, minutes, saves, and point shares for goalies. He’s posted a .928 save percentage and 2.30 goals against average, both of which are better than the numbers Andrei Vasilevskiy put up en route to his Vezina last year. Fleury has made a countless number of incredible saves and is the main reason the Golden Knights are 8-5-0 rather than 5-8-0. Vegas seems once again primed to run him out there 60+ times this season which means he should be at or near the top in every statistical category for goalies when the season is over. It’s literally the only thing he hasn’t done in his career. Hopefully this is the year.
Calder Trophy – Most Outstanding Rookie
VGK Candidate: Cody Glass
Glass was making a legitimate run at it to start the season when he posted four points in his first five games. But, he’s cooled off significantly playing on the wing of Cody Eakin which has his candidacy looking lackluster now. However, with the return of Alex Tuch and his continued excellence on the power play, Glass has a realistic shot of pushing 50 points this year. If he does that, his name belongs in the discussion. Put together a hat trick or two at the right time (meaning when people on the East coast are awake) and you never know.
Selke Trophy – Best Defensive Forward
VGK Candidates: Mark Stone & Reilly Smith
Oddly enough, this defensive award almost always starts with point production. Both Smith and Stone have done well in that category with seven goals a piece. Then it usually comes down to stats like takeaways (which VGK will dominate as long as they keep playing home games), shorthanded time, zone starts, Corsi, and whether or not you are Patrice Bergeron.
Smith has almost no reputation in Selke award race, so he’s fighting an uphill battle, but Stone made a run at the award last year so his candidacy may have some legs. Both Golden Knights have been excellent in the defensive advanced stats categories, and Smith actually leads in defensive point shares and takeaways over Stone. This one is going to take a lot of yapping on social media, but I saw a “Rick Perry 2012” sticker on a car the other day, which means people truly will latch on to anything if you annoy them enough.
Lady Byng Award – Outstanding Sportsmanship
Candidate: Nate Schmidt
Okay, hold up, just hear me out. Last year, Nate Schmidt would have had as good a chance as anyone to win the award, if not for that pesky “cheating” thing he had on his record at the start of the year. This year, he’s missed 12 games, but that could end up coming back to help him when all is said and done. The number one stat voters use for this award is PIM. Log lots of minutes, take very few penalties, and you’re in the running. Nate took just four minor penalties in 61 games last year while putting up nearly 22 minutes per game. If he can replicate that number and do it over 70 games, his name belongs in the discussion.
After PIM, it usually comes down to how much people like you, and Schmidt will pretty much win every voter with one conversation. Plus, how great a story is it that the winner of the Lady Byng got suspended for PED’s the previous year? The Awards Show is all about narratives, and this one would be a dandy.
Fact: Schmidt finished 22nd in Lady Byng voting last year receiving three votes. One of those votes was 1st place. Thank you Larry Brooks.