With more than half of the 2021-2022 NHL season out of the way, and All-Star Weekend approaching, we have quite a sample size to look at in terms of predicting who will be taking home the biggest individual awards in the summer.
Even though every team has played roughly 40-45 games, the final three months of the season are gonna come thick and fast and there is still a lot of hockey to be played, which means it will be a race to the finish for these players to pick up some hardware.
Hart: Leon Draisaitl
While Leon Draisaitl may not be leading the league in points, or goals, or he may not be the most valuable player to his team, a cold spell throughout the months of December and January meant that the Oilers suffered heavily from the lack of production of their leading scorers.
The Oilers are winners of 5 of their last 6 games and look to be going back on another hot streak, and when the Oilers get hot, they burn teams. While it would’ve been easy to put McDavid as the winner of the Hart trophy this year, and while he may be the more skilled of the duo, Draisaitl is having a pretty decent season as well.
With 32 goals already this season, add that onto his 63 points he is on pace for a 64 goal, 124 point season, which would shatter his previous career high of 110 points.
While him and McDavid can put up all the points they can, Draisaitl has my vote simply for the fact that the Edmonton Oilers completely stink at assembling a cohesive team around these two talents.
When half of your defense is comprised of Tyson Barrie, who is a glorified winger, Cody Ceci, who is so bad at his job that it makes you kind of feel bad for him sometimes because you can tell he’s trying at least, and the mummified corpse of Duncan Keith making up 3/6 defenders, it really makes one ponder how tough it is to carry an entire franchise into the postseason by the scruff of their necks.
One wouldn’t need to ponder however when you can watch it happen right in front of your eyes every Oilers game. Simply for the fact that Draisaitl might have one of his best seasons in his career so far and potentially just be left on the outside of a playoff spot in the NHL’s weakest division, he just has to win the MVP award by default.
Norris: Cale Makar
Has any other defenceman been as electric as Cale Makar since his debut for the Avalanche during their 2019 playoff run? Has there been any defenceman who has been as electric as Cale Makar in the last 20 years? I think some shouts could be made about some players, but none are quite as talented as the young Av’s defender.
Makar ranks third in points by a defenceman with 44 , just three points behind Adam Fox and Victor Hedmen, but Makar’s 18 goals puts him on pace for 36 goals this year, which would give him the 8th highest goal record by a defenceman, just behind the likes of Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr. Only Mike Green in ‘08-’09 has put up a 30 goal season from a defenceman in the post 2005 lockout era.
While assists and points definitely count for something and Fox and Hedman are having fantastic seasons, putting the puck in the back of the net counts for more. Makar is only 23 years old and he could already be putting up Bobby Orr numbers.
It might not only just be the amount of goals that Makar has already put up, with more to surely come in the future, it is the quality of the goals that he scores, when he lights the lamp he makes it look effortless.
Vezina: Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin was put in one of the most uncomfortable positions that any goalie could be in before he even stepped foot in the crease for the New York Rangers. After Henrik Lunqdvist hung up his skates in 2020, the Rangers were left searching for a new goalie for the first time in 15 seasons. Luckily for them they had two prospects who were looking to make the jump.
While Alexandar Georgiev, received some plaudits during his first few NHL seasons, the past few have been a little lackluster, this left Shesterkin with a real opportunity to make his mark on the franchise and what a mark that has been.
In 29 games so far, Shesterkin has a 22-5-2 record so far, which leaves him in 6th for wins, but this also is compounded with the fact that all of the other goalies with more wins than Shesterkin have also played roughly 3-6 more games than him. Shesterkin is also currently 2nd in GAA with 2.10 and the best SV% with .937.
If Shesterkin is able to remain healthy and at his best for the rest of this season, he might just cement his spot as the next franchise goalie for the Rangers, hopefully he gets luckier in the playoffs than the previous one.
Calder: Trevor Zegras
While I asked above if any defenceman was as electric as Cale Makar has been this season, I made sure to distinguish between defencman and player because Trevor Zegras has made the Anaheim Ducks must see hockey for the foreseeable future, along with teammates Jamie Drysdale, Troy Terry and Sam Steel.
While Zegras currently sits second in rookie points with 32, and third for rookie goals with 12. He will end up finishing out the season strong. No one in the league has been able to score highlight reel goals with such a consistency as Zegras has, and for that reason alone he is getting the rookie of the year award this year.
I’m just going to leave this goal here, I could watch this Michigan goal on the Habs for hours, this might be one of the cleanest versions of the Michigan we have seen, and I am thankful for it.