The NHL has passed the halfway point of the 2019-20 season and is steadily moving toward the postseason. Although there are many months of hockey still left to play, the top skaters and goaltenders have already elevated their franchises and are separating themselves from the field for the annual NHL awards.
Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player): David Pastrnak
Through the first half of the season, Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has narrowly etched out other Hart contenders such as Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid. The Czech product has led the Bruins to the top of the Atlantic Division and tied for the most team points. Pastrnak currently leads the league with an astounding 35 goals and sits fourth in points with 65. Pastrnak is known for strong postseason performances, and if he continues on his tear throughout this campaign, he could bring home both the Hart and the Stanley Cup.
Norris Memorial Trophy (Top Defencemen): John Carlson
The Washington Capitals sit atop the Metropolitan Division with a league-best 30 wins, led defensively by 11-year veteran John Carlson. Carlson currently leads all defencemen with 55 points, nine more than any other blue-liner. The Stanley Cup Champion will look to continue his dominant start and add to an already fantastic career, while helping the Capitals go on another deep playoff run and avoid yet another early postseason exit.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Cole Makar
Many first-year players have been instrumental parts of their teams throughout this year, but the most impressive rookie thus far has certainly been Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cole Makar. Makar, the fourth overall pick from 2017, has exhibited tremendous poise on the back end and excellent skating, creating an abundance of chances for Colorado. The 21-year-old Calagrian’s valuable contribution to the Avalanche is demonstrated further by his 33 points, only two behind the lead for all rookies, and 0.89 points per game. Makar appears to be the star defenceman Colorado needs, and with Hart candidate Nathan MacKinnon leading on offence, the future looks bright in Denver with these young playmakers.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie): Jordan Binnington
Amidst several contenders for the Vezina Trophy, one goalie has taken the league by storm: Jordan Binnington. The St. Louis netminder, who has yet to play a full season, has already led the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, proving yet again that goaltending in postseason hockey is absolutely essential. This season, the Canadian has led St. Louis to first place in the Western Conference, while posting a league leading 22 goalie wins. Though his save percentage of 0.917 and his 2.47 goals against average are not numbers that immediately jump out, Binnington has simply done what it takes to win; it is undeniable that in the last year, Binnington has been the most valuable player on the league’s best team. A Vezina Trophy would etch Binnington’s name in hockey history.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) : Mike Sullivan
When first glancing at the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ second position in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference is not particularly impressive. Yet, this is a huge accomplishment, as a majority of Pittsburgh’s best players have missed extended time on the ice this season. Future Hall of Famers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have dealt with injuries, and many other important players like Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, and Patric Hornqvist have also been sidelined this season. To make matters worse, their Stanley Cup winning goaltender Matt Murray has played poorly. Mike Sullivan’s decision to start Tristan Jarry was an excellent move and an example of his superb decision making in this difficult time. With all these difficult situations, the man who has led the Penguins to two Stanley Cup victories in the last half decade is proving to be effective yet again and looks good to lead his team another playoff run when his entire core returns.