Back for NHL Saturday today, and it’s time for 2014! The league changed its format from six divisions back to four, for starters. This decade also was proving itself as one for repeat champs, as the Los Angeles Kings became the second team to claim multiple Stanley Cups in just a five-year span (so far). What does that mean for our trophy show below? Only one way to find out …
Read on and enjoy!
2014 Hart: Sidney Crosby (original), Tyler Seguin (revised)
Only two skaters finished in the league Top 10 for Point Shares: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (13.54 PS) and Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (12.26). Crosby won the Hart vote at the time, even though the Pens cruised into the postseason with a 19-point cushion. As for the Ducks, they had a 27-point margin for error. Is there anyone else within shouting distance to consider here?
Dallas Stars C Tyler Seguin (11.6) and San Jose Sharks C Joe Pavelski (11.5) are about it: The Stars claimed the final Western Conference postseason slot by a mere 2 points, while the Sharks pretty much slid in easily with a 22-point cushion. That means we should be looking at Seguin here as the Hart winner: He posted 84 points in 80 games (37G, 47A), in addition to adding a plus-16 rating.
With his team only outscoring opponents by 7 goals overall, Seguin clearly brought a lot of value to the Stars. His 2.2 DPS mark was extremely solid as well, despite his accruing just 47 hits, 26 PIMs, and 24 blocked shots. He was sixth in the Hart voting at the time, so we’re good with this choice. We know Crosby was the better player, but value is value. This is the second time we’ve stripped Crosby, too.
2014 Norris: Duncan Keith (original), Shea Weber (revised)
Five blueliners cracked double digits in PS: Pittsburgh veteran Matt Niskanen (11.1 PS), Nashville Predators star Shea Weber (10.8), St. Louis Blues youngster Alex Pietrangelo (10.4), Ottawa Senators stalwart Erik Karlsson (10.3), and Chicago Blackhawks legend Duncan Keith (10.0). The vote winner? Keith, probably because the Blackhawks had won two Cups in the four prior seasons.
We took away his Norris in 2010; will we do it again? We know Pittsburgh cruised into the postseason, while Nashville missed out by 3 points. The Blues had a 22-point margin of error, while the Sens were 5 points short of the playoffs. The Blackhawks? They had 18 points to spare. That doesn’t solve anything for us, really, other than perhaps showing Weber had the most true value—but not quite enough.
But it’s enough for us: Weber posted a minus-2 rating for a team that coughed up 26 more goals than it scored, and his 26:54 ATOI is crazy. With 56 points (23G, 33A) and 52 PIMs, he finished third in the Norris vote, and that is good enough for us to grant him his first piece of hardware.
2014 Vezina: Tuukka Rask (original), Kari Lehtonen (revised)
The contender list is huge, even in pre-screened form: Colorado Avalanche veteran Semyon Varlamov (15.5 PS), Montréal Canadiens stalwart Carey Price (13.9), Boston Bruins rising star Tuukka Rask (13.1), Tampa Bay Lightning journeyman Ben Bishop (12.9), Dallas Stars regular Kari Lehtonen (12.6), Blues midseason acquisition Ryan Miller (12.4), and New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist (12.4).
Colorado made the postseason by 23 points; Montréal made it by 10 points. Boston made the playoffs by 23 points; Tampa Bay made it by 11 points. We know the Stars made it by 2 points, while the Blues had 22 points to work with. The Rangers made it by 6 points. All signs here, then point to Lehtonen, who was the difference between the postseason and the offseason for Dallas. Rask won the vote, but …
Lehtonen’s numbers: a league-high 65 games played and a 33-20-10 record supported by a 2.41 GAA and a .919 save percentage. The other Dallas goalies combined for a 7-11-1 mark, and that kind of gap between starter and backups is meaningful when the team claims the final postseason berth in an NHL conference.
2014 Calder: Nathan MacKinnon (original), Ondrej Palat (revised)
Our top-3 rookies here were Boston defenseman Torey Krug (8.1 PS), Tampa Bay left wing Ondrej Palat (7.9), and Colorado C Nathan MacKinnon (7.7). The latter took the vote as his team won the Central Division with 112 points to cruise into the postseason. Meanwhile, we know the playoff cushions for all three teams here, and the Lightning had the thinnest margin for error (11 points).
With all other rookies at least 1 PS below MacKinnon, we will give this nod to Palat: 59 points, plus-32 rating, and 18:02 ATOI for a team that only posted a 25-goal scoring margin on the season. With 146 hits and 64 blocks, he was a two-way player that made a significant difference in his team’s postseason seeding.
2014 Conn Smythe: Justin Williams (original), Drew Doughty (revised)
The Kings were the No. 6 seed this time, and they fought hard in winning three straight 7-games series in the Western Conference playoffs, only to “cruise” to a 4-1 series win in the Stanley Cup Finals over the Rangers. RW Justin Williams was the named the Conn Smythe winner at the time, but the Kings had four prolific scorers: any one of them could have been voted the MVP, really.
If Lundqvist had managed to force a 7-game series in the Finals, we’d have considered him, too, but that’s not the case. And Kings G Jonathan Quick was middling during this playoff run, in truth. So, it’s down to the Kings skaters: C Anze Kopitar (26 points in 26 games and 21:13 ATOI), Williams (25 points, plus-13 rating, 35 PIMs), or D Drew Doughty (18 points, 30 PIMs, 28:45 ATOI).
This team had to score to win, as the goaltending wasn’t sharp (2.49 GAA). We see Doughty’s ice time, and we’re stunned, really. He scored; he played defense; he was on the ice a lot. Williams only managed 16:49 ATOI, and while he did a lot of two-way damage, that’s not a lot of ice time. Why didn’t he play more? If Williams had posted Kopitar’s ATOI, then he could keep this award. We’re going with Doughty.
As a result, this makes 2014 just the third time since we started this miniseries that we have re-assigned all five major awards (1968, 2006). That’s pretty infrequent, even if it is twice now in the last 9 years. We will see if a pattern develops more significantly in the few seasons ahead here.