After taking a weekend off, we return with another entry on NHL Saturday: the 2020 Covid-interrupted season with the strange Stanley Cup in September. Most teams got in about 70 regular-season games, and the playoffs were a little odd—24 teams were a part of it, with an extra round to start things off after months of shutdown. Either way, a champion was still crowned, and that’s all that matters in the end.
It already seems like it was a long time ago, but here is our analysis!
2020 Hart: Leon Draisaitl (original), Artemi Panarin (revised)
Forwards dominated the league, especially these seven: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (13.19), Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (12.80), New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (11.43), Oilers C Connor McDavid (10.92), Toronto Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews (10.85), Colorado Avalanche C Nathan MacKinnon (10.82), and Tampa Bay Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov (10.46).
Draisaitl won the Hart vote; MacKinnon won our nod in 2018, and Kucherov won it in 2019. Matthews won the Calder in 2017, while Panarin won that vote in 2016. McDavid won the Hart vote in 2017, too, by the way. This is a very crowded field of high flyers, so can we eliminate anyone right away? The two Oilers teammates, of course. Every other player got his team to the expanded playoffs as well, so … here we go.
Boston had a 32-point cushion for the postseason, while the Rangers only had 11 points to spare. The Leafs had 13 points to play with, and the Avs had a 25-point margin for error. Finally, the Lightning were safe with 24 points in their back pocket. That makes this Panarin’s award in our eyes, as the Rangers may not have qualified for the expanded Stanley Cup tournament without his efforts.
His numbers: 32G, 63A, plus-36 rating, and 20:36 ATOI. New York only outscored its opponents by 12 goals on the season, so that rating is insane, not to mention the ice time in a weird season. He sure carried a heavy burden for the Rangers, and it paid off with a playoff berth.
2020 Norris: Roman Josi (original, confirmed)
The top 5 defensemen were Nashville Predators veteran Roman Josi (10.9 PS), Washington Capitals stalwart John Carlson (10.7), Tampa Bay star Victor Hedman (9.5), St. Louis Blues legend Alex Pietrangelo (9.1), and Columbus Blue Jackets phenom Zach Werenski (9.1). Josi won the vote, while Hedman won the vote in 2018. What happens this year?
Well, here’s the breakdown on playoff margins: Nashville (11), Washington (22), Tampa Bay (24), St. Louis (27), and Columbus (13). So it looks like the voters got it right with Josi, who posted 16G, 49A, a plus-22 rating, 41 PIMs, and 25:47 ATOI. The Preds were actually outscored on the season by 2 goals, but you cannot pin that on Josi, obviously. He was 7th in the NHL with 4.8 DPS, too, by the way.
2020 Vezina: Connor Hellebuyck (original, confirmed)
Only two backstops reached double digits in Point Shares: Winnipeg Jets veteran Connor Hellebuyck (12.5) and Lightning legend Andrei Vasilevskiy (10.4). The former won the vote this season, while the latter took the vote in 2019. Which one will get the nod here from us? Well … Winnipeg only had a 13-point cushion for the postseason, so we can confirm Hellebuyck’s award right now.
We know Vasilevskiy is very good, of course, but he seemingly is always playing on loaded rosters. Meanwhile, the Jets star posted a 31-21-5 record for a team that went 6-7-1 without him in the net. His 2.57 GAA is solid, although his .922 S% is quite stellar. He also led the NHL in shutouts (6), and you know every one of them mattered to Winnipeg, which finished only plus-13 in scoring differential.
2020 Calder: Cale Makar (original), Dominik Kubalík (revised)
Six rookies finished with at least 6 PS in this shortened season: New Jersey Devils G Mackenzie Blackwood (9.0), Colorado D Cale Makar (7.7), Rangers D Adam Fox (7.4), Vancouver Canucks D Quinn Hughes (6.5), Columbus G Elvis Merzlikins (6.5), and Chicago Blackhawks LW Dominik Kubalík (6.1). Makar won the vote; the Devils missed the expanded postseason. So where does that leave us?
Here: Colorado (25), New York (11), Vancouver (11), Columbus (13), and Chicago (5). With Blackwood out of the picture, it’s easier to give this award to Kubalík; it would have been harder to overlook that PS gap, of course. His numbers: 30G, 16A, and a plus-2 rating for a team that was outscored by 6 goals on the season as a whole. The Blackhawks weren’t good, but Kubalík was a difference maker for them.
2020 Conn Smythe: Victor Hedman (original), Brayden Point (revised)
Tampa Bay topped the Dallas Stars in 6 games to win their second Stanley Cup, the first coming in 2004. One year after getting swept out of the first round despite winning Presidents’ Trophy, the Lightning recovered gloriously under strange circumstances to win it all, and Hedman was named the Conn Smythe vote winner (22 points in 25 games in 26:28 ATOI).
However, two other Tampa Bay players deserve consideration: C Brayden Point (33P in 23G) and Vasilevskiy (18-7, 1.90 GAA, .927 S%). Hedman was actually minus-6 in the Finals, so we just have to toss him out of the convo. Overall, we see Point being the best player in the Finals, as he posted 8 points in 6 games and converted 35.7 percent of his shots to lead the team with 5 goals.
Vasilevskiy’s save percentage in the Finals was only .911—so we’re giving our nod here to Point, for stepping up all postseason and maintaining a high quality of play in the Stanley Cup championship round.