Sliding forward through time on slick ice is our standard move on NHL Saturday: It’s time for the 2007 season! It was a landmark season, for sure, as one of the more … ahem, amusing … teams won the Stanley Cup for the first time ever, upstaging two better franchises in the state, historically speaking. Crazy times!
Read on for our take on the awards winners in this interesting season …
2007 Hart: Sidney Crosby (original), Vincent Lecavalier (revised)
The top forwards in the league were Ottawa Senators left wing Dany Heatley (13.42 Point Shares), Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (13.40), and Pittsburgh Penguins C Sidney Crosby (13.34). The Hart vote went to Crosby, despite the trio being so very closely bunched together in sabermetric value. How did their respective teams fare?
Ottawa posted 105 points to secure a postseason spot by 14 points; Tampa Bay claimed the No. 7 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by just 2 points; Pittsburgh had the same record as the Sens. This means that it’s more clear that Lecavalier’s value was the highest, as Tampa Bay clearly would not have come close to the postseason without him.
Lecavalier led the NHL in total goals (52) and even-strength goals (31), while adding 56 assists and 44 PIMs. It is hard to believe his 5 short-handed goals didn’t top the league, too, or his 22:36 ATOI among forwards. Either way, he wins our nod for the Hart this time around, as Crosby was hyped aplenty by the media as the successor in Pittsburgh to Mario Lemieux.
2007 Norris: Nicklas Lidström (original, confirmed)
With 13.15 PS, Detroit Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidström was the only defenseman in the NHL Top 10 for value, and he won the Norris vote (again). This was the fourth vote win for him (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006) in this trophy chase, but we only have confirmed one of them (2003). That is usually because his team was loaded with All-Star players, so his real value took a hit up against the boards.
How about this time? Well, with 113 points, Detroit made the postseason with an 18-point cushion. Anyone else we can consider? Sure: Anaheim Ducks blueline teammates Scott Niedermayer (11.7 PS) and Chris Pronger (11.7) cancel each other out, however. So do Dallas Stars defensemen Philippe Boucher (10.5) and Sergei Zubov (10.4). Can we really dig any deeper?
We’re not going to, as Lidström was clearly heads and shoulders above the rest in value. We will confirm this award for the following statistics: 13G, 49A, plus-40, 46 PIMs, and 27:29 ATOI. It’s incredible to think he was 36 years old, too, and still performing at this high level. Did we mention his 7.9 Defensive Point Shares were also an NHL best? No one came within a point of him on defensive value, either.
2007 Vezina: Martin Brodeur (original), Miikka Kiprusoff (revised)
The top 6 overall players in the NHL for sabermetric value were goaltenders: New Jersey Devils genius Martin Brodeur (17.29 PS); Vancouver Canucks acquisition Roberto Luongo (17.08); Calgary Flames star Miikka Kiprusoff (16.32); New York Islanders phenom Rick DiPietro (14.55); New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist (14.28); and Atlanta Flames youngster Kari Lehtonen (14.19).
Clearly, there is an upper echelon here; Brodeur won the Vezina vote, for the third time in four seasons (2003, 2004, 2006). He is probably our favorite goalie ever, but we have not confirmed any of those vote wins. Will we this time? The Devils, with 107 points, made the postseason easily, but their 16-point cushion gives Brodeur serious value.
Meanwhile, the Canucks had a 20-point margin for error, and the Flames squeaked into the Western Conference playoffs by just 1 point—meaning Kipper had outstanding value, too. Obviously, Brodeur was a huge reason New Jersey made it to the postseason, but clearly Kiprusoff was the primary reason Calgary was able to fight for the Cup. We took this trophy away from him last year, but it all evens out.
Kipper’s stats: 40-24-9, 2.46 GAA, .917 S%, and 7 shutouts. His raw numbers were better last season, but he had more value to his team this year. Funny how that works out, huh? Remember, he was also our pick for the 2004 Conn Smythe as well. He’s a well-decorated guy at this point.
2007 Calder: Evgeni Malkin (original), Matt Carle (revised)
Three first-year players rose above the rest, with Penguins left wing Evgeni Malkin (9.4 PS) winning the Calder vote. The other two top rooks were San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Carle (8.2) and Colorado Avalanche C Paul Stastny (8.1)—son of Peter Stastny, our 1981 Calder winner. Remember, the Pens had a 14-point cushion for the postseason, so Malkin may not win this from us.
Meanwhile, the Sharks had a 12-point margin, and the Avs missed the postseason by 1 point. Generally, this means that Carle had the most value to his team, by a slim margin. But it is what it is. We guess the East Coast media bias was in full effect here, as Malkin rode Crosby’s coattails to an award.
Anyway, we digress; Carle posted solid numbers—11G, 31A, plus-9, and 30 PIMs—for San Jose on the blue line. He played in 77 games, and while his ATOI (18:08) wasn’t outstanding for a defenseman at all, his 4.4 DPS mark was pretty good. Perhaps the San Jose coaching staff should have played him more often, eh?
2007 Conn Smythe: Scott Niedermayer (original), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (revised)
The team that began as a Hollywood joke won the Stanley Cup in 5 games over the Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Anaheim Ducks somehow beat out the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks to be California’s first Stanley Cup winner. Niedermayer was voted the Conn Smythe winner for posting 11 points in 21 games—and not leading his team in anything, really. We’re not a fan of this vote.
Niedermayer was a veteran presence, etc., but he didn’t lead the Ducks in ATOI, PIMs, or anything, really, except total postseason minutes. Anaheim had a loaded roster, and even so, no skater topped more than a point per game. Pronger was a better blueliner than Niedermayer was in the playoffs, too, despite missing two games.
We like the goalie, in truth, for the Conn Smythe: Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who won this award in 2003, may have deserved it again, for posting a 13-4 record with a 1.97 GAA and a .922 S%. Overall, the Ducks went 16-5 to win the championship, as Giguere’s backup—Ilya Bryzgalov—also posted a .922 S% to go with a 2.25 GAA. That difference in GAA is big, though, so we’re going to give this nod to Jiggy, narrowly.
That’s kind of a unique player, really, winning the Conn Smythe twice: once as a player on the losing team and once as a player on the winning team. That’s sports history for you … it’s why we are here, in truth.