Predicting the 2020 NHL Award Winners
(Photo from nhl.com)
A new NHL season is just around the corner, with fans and media alike quickly focusing the conversation on who the head turners will be this upcoming season. A lot has changed this past summer in the NHL, with big name stars preparing to suit up in their brand-new jerseys this October, the world of hockey is waiting eagerly to see which players take the league by the reigns and run with it.
I’ve put together a list of players I think will have the most impact this season and translate that success into an NHL award come June, 2020.
Calder Trophy (best rookie)
(Photo from lastwordonhockey.com)
Nominees: Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, Cale Makar
Winner: Kaapo Kakko
Although Jack Hughes may have stolen the spotlight this June by going first overall, it’ll be the second overall pick in Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers to be the proud owner of the 2020 Calder Trophy.
Both Hughes and Kaako are spectacular players, whom are both projected to have successful careers as the next wave of NHL superstars, but for this particular year the edge goes to the Finnish Phenom. Kaako is the benefactor of playing on a significantly stronger team that possesses more leaders to lean on, compared to the New Jersey Devils. Kaako will most likely have the luxury of playing with the likes of Zibenajad and Panarin this season, which will help him to play a safer game with less fear of costly turnovers.
Similar to what Patrick Kane did for Panarin in his rookie season, expect to see the same happen for Kakko with Panarin.
Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
(Photo from arcticicehockey.com)
Nominees: Connor Hellebuyck, Sergei Bobrovsky, Frederik Andersen
Winner: Connor Hellebuyck
After yet another disappointing early outing in the playoffs, and loss of a few key players this summer, the Winnipeg Jets are looking for a little revenge, and so is goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck.
Hellebuyck seemed to struggle near the end of the season last year, and that struggle seemed to bleed into the playoffs. Don’t expect much of the same this season, however. With the immense number of injuries on the back end last season, the Jets are hoping for some better luck with their defence. But, if that doesn't pan out, expect Hellebuyck to have a bounce back season helping the Jets to a division title, cementing his name in the Vezina category and ultimately winning it come June.
Norris Trophy (best defenceman)
(Photo from nsnews.com)
Nominees: Morgan Rielly, Thomas Chabot, Seth Jones
Winner: Morgan Rielly
It’s crazy to think about how fast time is going by. What seemed like yesterday, where each year, the Norris trophy was a tossup between the likes of Chara, Keith, Karlsson, Subban or Doughty, is now far in the past, with a new generation of defenceman looking to claim the prize each year.
This season will see the Norris conversation revolve around the younger, more dynamic defence, with the winner being Morgan Rielly. After being snubbed last season for a nod at the Norris, Morgan Rielly will find himself outdoing his last season with even more success in the offensive and defensive ends.
With the addition of Tyson Barrie on the Maple Leafs' blue line, Morgan Rielly now has a suitable partner to play off of and take more chances offensively and also play more comfortably in his own end. Morgan Rielly will be this year's Norris winner and most likely the new captain of the franchise shortly after. This is the year of Morgan.
Art Ross Trophy (most points during the regular season):
(Photo from nhl.com)
Runners-up: Mitch Marner, Nathan MacKinnon
Winner: Connor McDavid
I think it’s safe to say that for the foreseeable future, Connor McDavid will be leading the league in points almost every single season, including this upcoming one.
Finishing second in points last season, falling just behind Nikita Kucherov who had a season for the ages (becoming the first to score over 120 points in a single season since Sidney Crosby did it back in 2006/07). McDavid has scored 100 or more points in 3 of his 4 seasons (scored 48 in 45 games during his rookie season, after his season came to an end thanks to a broken collar bone), so don't expect that trajectory to go down. McDavid is a generational player in the same category as Gretzky, Lemieux, and Orr, so don't be surprised when he wins the Art Ross season after season after season.
Here’s to everyone lucky enough to draft him in their fantasy pools!
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (most goals scored)
(Photo from chicago.suntimes.com)
Runners-up: Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin
Winner: Alex Debrincat
This one may come as a surprise to some of you, especially to those who may not even know who Alex Debrincat is.
For those that don’t know, he's the guy who finished with 41 goals (10 less than the winner, Alex Ovechkin) on a Chicago Blackhawks team that finished 20th in the league, yet 8th in the league in scoring.
The Blackhawks are a high-scoring team the had bad goaltending and rapidly aging defence. Debrincat is one of the reasons for their high scoring. Debrincat (in my opinion) will look to have a breakout season (as if a 41 goal season isn't a breakout enough) and look to join the ranks of some of the best goal scorers in the NHL.
Having the opportunity to play with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the ever-improving Dylan Strome will definitely play as an advantage to Debrincat in his quest to earn himself a scoring title (and become the first American-born player to do so).
Hart Trophy (league MVP)
(Photo from nhl.com)
Nominees: Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner, Nathan MacKinnon
Winner: Nathan MacKinnon
Similar to the Norris Trophy, we will be seeing a transition to the new wave of NHL talent commanding the MVP narrative. This season, watch to see Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon to do just that.
After having an incredible season in 2017/18 followed by an equally great 2018/2019, Nathan MacKinnon has become one of the most underrated superstars in the NHL. He isn't nearly talked about enough by fans and media, however, this season, that will all change.
The success MacKinnon found with linemates Landeskog and Rantanen, he will put forth again this season. With the addition of Kadri to the Avalanche and Cale Makar finding a permanent spot on the team back end, the Avalanche are poised to make a splash among the top tier teams in the league, with MacKinnon leading that charge as the team leader in both points and play on the ice.
The league is about to take notice of a new Cole Harbour kid.