It’s been a month since our last entry in our NHL Saturday series, but we wanted the 2022 season to end properly first—obviously! And that happened, so here we are. The Colorado Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup since the 2001 postseason, and they prevented the Tampa Bay Lightning from a rare three-peat achievement in the process.
We are not sure where we will go next on this column; perhaps we can revisit some Original Six stuff, but we’ll be on hiatus until the fall and the start of the new 2022-2023 hockey season. In the meantime, enjoy … don’t be afraid to re-visit some of your favorite seasons in the Expansion Era. This column’s archive is awesome!
2022 Hart: Auston Matthews (original, confirmed)
A whopping 13 teams (!) posted 100-plus points as the league returned to a full schedule after two shortened seasons, due to Covid. The top forwards were Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (14.56 PS), Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (13.82), Toronto Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews (13.70), Flames LW Matthew Tkachuk (13.54), and Edmonton C Leon Draisaitl (13.19).
Matthews won the vote, and it’s weird to see multiple teammates playing the same position (on different lines). No surprise that 2 of the teams over 100 points were Calgary and Edmonton. Either way, it leaves Matthews as an easy confirmation for the Hart here. He topped the NHL in goals (60), even-strength goals (44), and shots on goal (348).
His other numbers? Career-high marks in assists (46), points (106), PIMs (18), power-play goals (16), and face-off percentage (56.2). Matthews, at age 24, also set personal bests for blocks (62), hits (67), takeaways (92), and giveaways (48). He is the primary reason the Maples Leafs had their most successful regular season in franchise history, dating back to 1918.
2022 Norris: Cale Makar (original), Roman Josi (revised)
Colorado defenseman Cale Makar (15.22) topped the league in PS, so he easily could have won three trophy votes here (see below). Somehow, though, he was just eighth in the Hart vote. Anyway, his prime competition for keeping his Norris vote win this season comes from Nashville veteran Roman Josi (13.91) and Tampa Bay legend Victor Hedman (13.52). Josi won this award in 2020, by the way.
We also took the trophy away from Hedman in 2018, so there is drama here. But, of course, it comes down to value: While Colorado and Tampa Bay easily made the postseason, the Preds claimed the final postseason spot in the Western Conference by just 3 points—making this award Josi’s once again, in our eyes.
His stats: 23G, 73A, plus-13, 46 PIMs, 25:33 ATOI, and 133 blocks. At age 31, he also sets career highs in shots on goal (281) and shot percentage (8.2). He finished second in the vote, so we feel confident in choosing him for our winner.
2022 Vezina: Igor Shesterkin (original), Juuse Saros (revised)
Eight goaltenders posted at least 12 PS on the year, and among them, these were the guys who got their teams to the playoffs: Nashville stalwart Juuse Saros (13.85 PS), New York Rangers starter Igor Shesterkin (13.40), Flames journeyman Jacob Markstrom (12.24), Colorado veteran Darcy Kuemper (12.14), and Tampa Bay legend Andrei Vasilevskiy (12.01). Shesterkin won the vote, by the way.
Saros won this award from us last year, and he’s going to win it again, because of that slim playoff margin for error the Predators had to constantly skate the edge on all spring. The other four guys all played for teams that cracked 100-point barrier, readily, and cruised into the playoffs with very large cushions. Saros had no such good fortune.
The statistical line—league-high 67 starts, a 38-25-3 record, a 2.64 GAA, a .918 S%, and 4 shutouts—don’t really overwhelm us, but consider that Nashville posted a 7-5-4 record without him, and you see the team would have missed the postseason without Saros in net. He did set a personal best, too, for quality-start percentage (64.2) over a full season. That means a lot, to counterbalance his bad outings.
2022 Calder: Moritz Seider (original), Alexandre Carrier (revised)
Five rookies posted at least 6.0 PS for the season: Detroit Red Wings G Alex Nedeljkovic (8.8 PS), Toronto LW Michael Bunting (6.9), Boston Bruins G Jeremy Swayman (6.9), Red Wings D Moritz Seider (6.7), and Predators D Alexandre Carrier (6.4). The Red Wings missed the postseason, so even though Seider won the vote, he won’t get our hardware today.
Once again, the Nashville player wins an award due to the narrow postseason margin; both Toronto and Boston cruised into the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Predators edged out the Vegas Golden Knights by those mere 3 points out in the Western Conference. Without him, like Josi and Saros, the Nashville squad is hitting the golf course in May.
His numbers—3G, 27A, plus-26, 50 PIMs, and 20:59 ATOI—are solid for an age-25 rookie. He finished tenth in the Calder vote, though, which is surprising. He clearly didn’t get a lot of credit for his 5.2 DPS, which was the strength of his game, obviously.
2022 Conn Smythe: Makar (original, confirmed)
The Avs conquered the Lightning in six games to win the Cup, and Makar won the Conn Smythe vote for leading the Colorado squad in scoring (29 points in 20 games). But three other skaters also posted at least a point a game for the champions; yet, they didn’t come close to his 27:04 ATOI. With two different goalies splitting time in net the Avs, Makar is clearly our leader for this award.
He led the team in assists (21), and Makar also was the only one of the top scorers to post double digits in PIMs, so his game had teeth. This is a pretty open-and-shut case, so there’s not much more to say. He was the best player in the NHL during the regular season (albeit not the most valuable), and he was the best player in the postseason, too.