NHL: First-Half Awards

tyler seguin

The NHL All-Star break is here, and that’s usually a good time to kick the feet up and just enjoy some festivities. It’s also a good time for reflection on the first half of the season. I wrote about the first half of the fantasy hockey season, so here’s the first-half of the non-fantasy hockey season.

First Half MVP

Everyone has different opinions of what a most valuable player is. I always keep the words of my father in mind: Where would the team be if you took this player off the roster? With that understanding, there is one necessary condition for an MVP:

  1. The team has to be in, or somewhat close to, a playoff position. A player doesn’t have a lot of value if his production has kept his team in 25th place as opposed to 29th.

My pick for first half MVP is Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars.

At the break, Seguin is tied for the league lead in goals and is second in points. With him on the ice at five-on-five, the Stars score 54.8 percent of the total goals scored. With him off the ice, that drops to 50 percent even (from War On Ice). The Stars are just three points out of a playoff spot, and the biggest reason they’re anywhere close to a playoff spot is because of Seguin.

Honorable Mentions: Carey Price (MTL-G), Vladimir Tarasenko (STL-RW), Pekka Rinne (NSH-G)

First Half Vezina Trophy

It’s pretty fair to argue that the Nashville Predators wouldn’t be second in the Western Conference without the first half performance from Pekka Rinne. He leads all goalies in wins, is second in save percentage, and third in the team stat of goals against average. That’s enough to give him the Vezina Trophy for the first half of the season, and easily so. The Predators should just hope his injury doesn’t linger into March and beyond.

Honorable Mentions: Carey Price (MTL-G), Roberto Luongo (FLA-G)

First Half Norris Trophy

The Norris Trophy is always a bit of a bone of contention. Duncan Keith took the award last year even though he didn’t face top competition for the majority of the season. Does a defenceman who isn’t charged with shutting down the other teams’ best players truly the top defenceman?

This award will go to Calgary’s Mark Giordano. The man known as “Gio” leads all defensemen in points to start the year. There’s more to it than that, though.

The image below should show just how much Giordano has done for the Flames. The further to the left a player is, the fewer offensive zone starts they get. The further up a player is, the harder the competition they face. In that sense, guys in the top left are given the toughest assignments. The dark blue circles are guys who have high possession numbers relative to their teams; the red circles are the opposite. Here are Calgary, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and St. Louis defensemen sorted out. That would include Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk, among others. Take a look who’s in the top left:

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Defencemen with over 400 minutes played, via War On Ice, from St. Louis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Calgary.

It’s pretty easy to see that Giordano is a huge reason for the Flames’ success. There’s an argument to be made that he and T.J. Brodie just work exceptionally well together, but Giordano is the one with the points.

Honorable Mentions: Drew Doughty (LAK-D), Dougie Hamilton (BOS-D), Dustin Byfuglien (WPG-D)

First Half Selke Awards

It seems like the same names are recycled in this award every year. I’ll be continuing this recycling by selecting Patrice Bergeron.

Had the Bruins not suffered injuries to Zdeno Chara and David Krejci – and not been almost completely incapable of scoring – I would probably have gone elsewhere. In addition to Dougie Hamilton, though, Bergeron is a big reason the Bruins will be back in the playoffs this year.

Bergeron is tied for the fourth-most total defensive zone starts in the NHL at 275. Of the three names ahead of him, two of them play for Calgary and Philadelphia, teams not very good in the puck possession stats. Teams that are strong in this regard – Boston is seventh in the NHL – don’t have a lot of leaders in that regard. Even San Jose’s Joe Pavelski, who is tied with Bergeron, is on a team outside the top-10.

In short, Bergeron plays all the top competition of the other team, gets buried in defensive zone starts, has endured being without the team’s top defenceman and their number-2 centre, all the while Tuukka Rask is having arguably his worst year of his career. Despite this, Bergeron is plus-3 in five-on-five goal differential, and is third among NHL forwards in CorsiFor percentage.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Thornton (SJS-C), Anze Kopitar (LAK-C), Pavel Datsyuk (DET-C)

I’ll leave things like Coach of the Year and General Manager of the Year until the end of the season. Also, the Art Ross and Maurice Richard trophies are self-evident.

Anything you disagreed with? Let us know in the comments!

Some stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference, Behind The Net, and War On Ice.

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Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');