NHL 2018/19 mid-season awards


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Over the past weekend the mid-season point of the NHL came and past for every team. With that, we decided it was time for another awards ceremony. This one is the same as the last, except we've gathered up all of our hockey writers to help compile this list for you.


If you missed the last awards piece, we give out the regular awards, but added in a few more just to spice things up a little bit. We've also included a few team awards, and given our picks for the Eastern and Western Conference final, along with the Stanley Cup final. Without further ado, here's our choices.


Art Ross


Brant Dubeau


Mikko Rantanen


Nikita Kucherov is on an absolute tear right now, and just recently passed Rantanen. I question whether or not Kuch can be this hot for the rest of the season to keep himself in first. Rantanen however, has watched his team go ice cold as of late and should expect to bank a few more points per game when they come back up to where they should be.


Brandon Neild


Nikita Kucherov


This man is a bonafide weapon offensively. He has the oh so familiar Russian sniper attribute that he hasn't even fully showcased this year yet. He leads the league with 49 assists, becoming a dish master. What tips Kuch in favour of this award is the fact that Tampa has so many weapons to worry about it’s impossible to contain them all. He has proven his ability to play without Stammer as his line mate and still be an elite point producer. Being on the second line immediately makes him the best player on the ice when not playing against other top lines.


Mack Fleming


Connor McDavid


McDavid is the number one player in hockey. Period. He can take over a game in one shift with his speed and skill. He has found a way to consistently produce points over the course of the season and has always found a way to step up his game post all-star game. In his career he has 10% more points per game post all-star game. However, last season McDavid increased his points per game by 33%. So far this season, he has 1.525 points per game… carry this into the all-star break and he will be at about 75 points through 49 games. If he can increase his pace by 10% (his career increase post all-star) he will be on pace to record 129 pts through 81 games… 21 points higher than his career-high.


Nick Bowins


Nikita Kucherov


Kucherov is arguably the best player on the best team in hockey. 69 points in 42 games and no signs of slowing down from his most recent hot streak. Rantanen and McDavid are close, but not close enough to catch the skilled Russian who has the benefit of being on a powerplay that features Stamkos, Point, Hedman, and Palat.


Maurice Richard Trophy


Brant


Alex Ovechkin


I hate this. The guy is old, he’s a glorified one trick pony, and he thinks he’s too good for the all star game… But god damn can he put the puck in the net. At the rate he’s going, Ovi would have to get hurt in order to screw this up.


Brandon


Alex Ovechkin


You just cannot stop his shot from being rifled into the net. It’s almost relatable to Larry Bird from his hayday in the NBA, where he would tell the defender exactly what he was going to do and where he would score from. Every goalie knows where Ovi will shoot from. Every player knows where he will shoot from. Yet the shot always finds its way in the back of the net.


Mack


John Tavares


Tavares is sitting three goals back of Ovi, both are playing with some of the leagues top playmakers (Marner and Backstrom). However, one area that Tavares has been lacking (only a little bit) is in the powerplay goals category, with six. On one of the league’s top power play units, he is bound to pick up that pace as the net front presence.


Nick


Alex Ovechkin


Contrary to what Brant said, I love this. Ovi is the best goal scorer to ever play the game of hockey, and he has a good shot at winning his 1000th Rocket Richard Trophy this year. Over 10 years of blasting one-timers past opposing goalies on the powerplay, and he just keeps doing it.


Norris Trophy


Brant


Morgan Rielly


I will drive this train into the ground! Rielly has been unbelievable on both sides of the ice, putting up 45 points in 42 games putting him in the lead among defenceman, while continuing to carry the fossil of a partner that he has on the defensive end. Make this man an all star already


Brandon


Mark Giordano


I wanted to be a little different, and there’s a fair chance this pick changes down the road but Gio deserves to be in the conversation. The 35 year old is not only sitting top 5 in the league for points by a defenceman, but he’s also leading the league in plus/minus with a +30. Did i mention he’s 35?


Mack


Morgan Rielly


I had started to type out a different name… but it felt wrong. Rielly has gotten it done in every way this season. He has been lights out offensively (2nd in defence scoring), has excelled on one of the top PP units in the league and has a +26 rating to show for his defensive side of the game as well.


Nick


Morgan Rielly


A breakout season sees him second for defenceman in scoring, while also playing much better defensively than in past years. Imagine how good he’d be if he got to play with someone other than Ron Hainsey?


Vezina Trophy


Brant


John Gibson


Barring an enormous crash, or an injury, this answer won’t change for me all year. At the time of me writing this, the Ducks are holding on to the last wild card spot in the Western Conference. Gibson meanwhile, has faced 1138 shots this season, and still sports a .923 save percentage. The Ducks as a whole, rank second last in the entire NHL in goals per game with 2.4. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Gibson is the best goalie in the league.


Brandon


Frederik Andersen


Why does the league (and apparently the Eh team) keep overlooking how elite this goaltender really is and how important Freddie is to the team. He holds a 2.50 GAA which trails Fleury by a measly .03. Has 20 wins on the season already (second in the league) and is keeping pace with a .923 save percentage. Those stats put him top ten across those three categories. He checks all the boxes for me as a Vezina candidate.


Mack


Marc-Andre Fleury


As Nick just said, he leads the league in the two biggest goalie categories. Vegas wouldn’t be in a playoff spot if it weren’t for the Flower. The biggest rival to Fleury’s trophy chance is John Gibson, who has been playing through a bit of an upper-body issue lately, and has not looked like his normal self.


Nick


Marc-Andre Fleury


Leads the league in Wins and Shutouts, despite Vegas not being as strong as they were in their inaugural season. Still getting the job done night in and night out, and without the usual suspects like Price, Quick, and Holtby having stellar years, the Vezina could be Flowers to lose.


Hart


Brant


John Gibson


Think I’m joking about John Gibson? Think again. He already has this team on his back, and is clawing his way into the playoffs. If he stays healthy, I don’t see any one player that should beat him. Most teams today are relying on two or more stars to carry their team, and it diminishes each individual players value.


Brandon


Connor McDavid


The entire fate of Edmonton’s season rest on the shoulders of this man-boy. They live and die by number 97. If he were to get injured, the whole city would abandon all ships for the season. They have no other proven point producers, as Draisaitl struggles when seperated from McDavid. He is the only reason they even stay somewhat competitive in the Pacific.


Mack


Connor McDavid


A big topic of discussion last year, was if a player on a team not in the playoffs, would be able to win the Hart. Well, the Oilers are sitting four points out of a playoff position and as I wrote earlier, McDavid steps his game up in the second half of the season. Watch for Edmonton to sneak into the playoffs, guaranteeing McDavid the Hart Trophy for the second time in his young career.


Nick


Johnny Gaudreau


The Flames have been scorching hot lately, thanks to Johnny Hockey. 62 points in 43 games for Gaudreau has Calgary sitting near the top of the standings, despite a clear lack of scoring talent upfront. Without him, I don’t think Calgary is a playoff team, while the rest of the point leaders are all on stronger offensive teams. He is arguably the most VALUABLE to his team, not saying he is the best player.



Calder Trophy


Brant


Elias Pettersson


Thank you, next.


Brandon


Elias Pettersson


What he said.


Mack


Elias Pettersson


Pettersson has not only been the best rookie this season, but he has been the best player on the Canucks. PLUS, he has brought Canucks fans to the rink with his exceptional talent and game changing abilities.


Nick


Miro Heiskanen


Devil’s advocate… if Pettersson misses a significant amount of time with this lower-body injury, it has to go to Heiskanen. 19 points in 42 games as a rookie defenceman says it all. He plays the tough minutes, makes unreal breakout passes, and is Dallas’ all-star representative. Impressive year that is getting overlooked since Pettersson has been so impressive, but this injury could change things.


Wayne Gretzky Award (most assists)


Brant


Mikko Rantanen


I would love to be a homer and say Mitch Marner for this category, but apparently Marner thinks he’s alex Ovechkin out there and is starting to shoot the puck. I think the rise in goals for Marner will slow his assist pace, leaving the door wide open for the rest of the field. As for Rantanen, he has assisted on all but four of Nathan Mackinnon’s 25 goals this season. Couple that with the scoring prowess from Gabriel Landeskog, and Rantanen will clean up down the stretch.


Brandon


Mitch Marner


Old habits will die hard for Marner. He’s a set-up man, a sauce king if you will. He can find any one, any time, any place. You can see him fighting the urge to pass less/shoot more and eventually he will stray away from that for the better of the team. His head is always up looking for someone open to feed the puck to. When the playoff push comes, he is the best option to move the puck around to the open man. Marner should be rewarded for his unselfishness by winning his first award.


Mack


Mikko Rantanen


Currently sitting three back of Kucherov for the assist lead. This is where I think Rantanen will take over. Tampa has all but punched their ticket to be the Eastern Conference leaders, if not the league leaders. They will start to rest their top players heading into the last month of the year. Meanwhile, Rantanen and the Avalanche will be fighting for a Divisional or Wild Card spot in the playoffs… giving them more reason to lean on their top line even more than they have had to already.


Nick


Mitch Marner


40 assists already and he has been shooting more as of late. Once teams start playing him for the shot on the powerplay, he will go back to finding Tavares for back-door tap-ins, and will give Kucherov a fight for the most assists. I give him my vote over Kuch and Rantanen simply because he is a better passer, even if they have more apples right now.


Most Surprising Team


Brant


Calgary Flames


The Flames started last season in a good spot, but completely collapsed down the stretch. There were a lot of questions on how this team would perform under the influence of Bill Peters. They also made a big splash in the offseason by trading Dougie Hamilton for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, and adding veteran free agent James Neal. They stumbled out of the gate, but the emergence of David Rittich as a bonafide number one goalie (.921 save percentage, 2.40 GAA) has this team sitting comfortably at the top of the West.


Brandon


New York Islanders


I seem to recall a lot of folks saying that the Islanders would be dead in the water (frozen pond in this case) once Tavares left. Yet here we are, Islanders with 50 points on the season. Barzal producing just shy of a point per game, Lee and Bailey are showing they’re still able to put up respectable numbers, and somehow the even playing time of Lehner and Griess seems to be helping not only the team win, but is helping Robin Lehner look like a legitimate goaltender with a lowly 2.18 GAA over 21 games.


Mack


Calgary Flames


I believe many people knew that Calgary was going to be a good team this season. However, I doubt many pegged them to be sitting first in the Western Conference heading into the second half of the season. They have had unexpected goaltending success from David Rittich, while Mike Smith seems to have found his game again heading into the all-star break.


Nick


Buffalo Sabres


I thought they would start trending upwards this year, I didn’t think they’d be this good. Skinner, Eichel and Reinhart is one of the sneaky best lines in hockey, Hutton has been unreal between the pipes, and they are getting big wins against solid teams. Great year thus far!


Most Underwhelming Team


Brant


St. Louis Blues


How have things gone so wrong for St. Louis? They made some great offseason moves, bringing in Ryan O’Rielly, Tyler Bozak, and Patrick Maroon, complimenting an already great lineup. They have done absolutely nothing with it turning their once bright hope for this season into hope for phenom Jack Hughes.


Brandon


St. Louis Blues


Since we all selected the same team here, it would be extremely hard not to repeat the same reasons why they’ve struggled so mightily. I’ll do my darndest not to do that, but no promises. The off season additions made them so much slower in a game where speed rules all. Vladdy T is MIA on the offensive side. And Jake Allen, you’re my favourite goalie right now. You’re so terrible that my beloved Blackhawks are struggling to be worse in the “#LoseforHughes” season.


Mack


St.Louis Blues


Last place in the Western Conference. Many hockey experts had these guys in line for sole possession of third place in the Central Division behind Nashville and Winnipeg. Not much has gone right for the Blues this season, is it time for a rebuild in the Gateway City?


Nick


St. Louis Blues


What a disappointing season so far. On paper, they look like a playoff contender. In reality, they are a Jack Hughes contender. Goalie struggles for the 10th season in a row, along with a lack of scoring, and they have been very underwhelming thus far.


Most Surprising Player


Brant


Mikko Rantanen


I know he was pretty good last year, but did anyone actually expect him to be competing for basically every trophy this season? I know I sure didn’t. Currently on pace to shatter the career highs he set last season, Rantanen has been one of the cooler stories that you rarely hear about in the NHL (I’m sorry you’re in Colorado Mikko).


Brandon


Matthew Tkachuk


Tkachuk is certainly reaping a lot of benefits from this newly structured Calgary squad. He has already surpassed his total points from last year with 50 on the season. He’s no longer the player of 105 PIMs and has learned he’s most effective when helping his team offensively. On the powerplay he is keeping stride with Gaudreau and is actually leading the team in PPP (power play points) with 19.


Mack


Jeff Skinner


He has been a big surprise to me, not only because he is on pace for 56 goals (career high is 37) but also because his defensive game has been improved. A career -96 player heading into the season, is a +15 through 42 games this season. This is a 47 +/- point improvement to go along with his goal scoring abilities.


Nick


Thomas Chabot


Guy has been a point machine on the blueline this year for a team that was expected to be horrible. Everyone knew he was good, especially after his World Junior showing a few years back, but nobody knew he was this good. 38 points in 38 games is absurd for a young d-man, and he is starting to get more and more ice time.


Most Underwhelming Player


Brant


Nikolaj Ehlers


Ehlers was brought up a fair amount when it came to the William Nylander contract due to his similar role and six million dollar cap hit. Ehlers hasn’t even come close to living up to that cap hit, netting just 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points on one of the best offences in the game. You don’t hear about it too much because of Winnipeg’s success, but Ehlers has definitely been disappointing this year.


Brandon


Mike Smith


For me this was the obvious choice. Mike Smith was brought into Calgary to finally be the sound goaltender that the Flames had been searching for since the glory days of Kipper. Now he struggles even as the backup to a talented squad. He currently is posting a .886 save percentage (a career worst) as well as a 3.09 GAA


Mack


Vladimir Tarasenko


In the past five seasons (13/14 to 17/18) his shooting percentage was the following: 15.4%, 14%, 13.7%, 13.6%, 10.8%. His shooting percentage this season: 7.8%. There are two meanings behind these numbers. One, he is getting unlucky this season, and is not getting the same quality of passes and opportunities as past seasons. Two, goalies are figuring out his shot and he is not the star player he once was.


Nick


Vladimir Tarasenko


Hasn’t had less than 33 goals in the last 4 years, and at the midway mark, he currently sits at 11. He has a brutal shooting percentage compared to his career average, so he’ll likely start to catch up with some puck luck eventually, but it has been a very underwhelming season for the St. Louis sniper, and he was even mentioned in some trade rumours to top it off.


Most Likely To Bounce Back


Brant


Tyler Seguin


Nick is almost on the right path with this one. Both Seguin and Benn were called out by Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites and it will light a fire under both of them, but before that even happened, I think Seguin was poised to bounce back anyways. The perennial all star has hit more posts than anyone in the league and still finds himself on the final vote ballot. Once some of those find the back of the net, Seguin will climb back up the scoring leaderboard.


Brandon


Vladimir Tarasenko


I refuse to believe that the Russian will continue to have such a disastrous season, especially with the talent that surrounds him. The league appears to have figured out his tendencies and neutralized his offence. But this may be a case of bringing in such a new haul of players that everyone is still getting used to playing styles. His trend this season is to produce in little bunches of three or four games. Let's hope he can find it in his gameplay to go on a bit of a point streak


Mack


Mathew Barzal


I wouldn’t say Barzal has looked lost without Tavares, but he has definitely had to adjust to being the centre of defensive attention from the other team. He is finally starting to shoot more, increasing his shot total from 59 to 97 since December 15, a stretch of 10 games.


Nick


Jamie Benn


32 points in 43 games is still pretty good, but those aren’t Jamie Benn numbers. After getting called out by CEO Jim Lites, him and Seguin have each responded strongly, despite Benn missing the last 2 games to injury. I expect him to lead by example and go on a tear in the second half here, and Dallas will be pushing for a playoff berth.


Most Likely To Regress


Brant


Thomas Chabot


Chabot has been incredible in the first half, good enough to be sitting fifth in defensive scoring. Heartbreak struck for him though, when it was announced that he will miss roughly three weeks with a concussion. Add that into the fact that the Senators look terrible again, and I doubt Chabot will be able to continue this hot start.


Brandon


David Rittich


For some reason Calgary has been a bit of a trend for me. So I may as well continue with it. I find it extremely difficult for Rittich to keep such a pace during his first season as the number one. Right now his GAA is 2.40, where last year he hovered around 3.00. His save percentage has seen a fair increase from the season prior now holding a .921. Where I see the biggest issue is when the team needs to rely on goaltending down the stretch to the playoffs. The Flames had a major crash and burn last year, which puts a huge weight on the goalies shoulders to not have history repeat for a second consecutive season.


Mack


Jeff Skinner


He is my biggest surprise player of the year and I believe he will be the player most likely to regress. I also believe the Sabres will be the team with the most regression… they have the lowest goal differential among playoff teams and have Montreal, Florida and Carolina hot on their tail for the final Wild Card spot.


Nick


Gabriel Landeskog


He’s a good player. He plays with 2 great linemates. I just personally don’t think Landeskog is as good as his numbers show. If his line slows a bit, I feel like he will feel the pain the most, as MacKinnon and Rantanen are both skilled enough to drive a line. Landeskog isn’t that type of player to me, as his numbers prior to a few years ago would show, and I don’t see him finishing the season top 10 in goals like he is right now.


Coach on the Hot Seat


Brant


Bob Boughner


Realistically, everyone that should be fired this season has already been fired. There’s a couple guys left that I think could be fired, but I think due to Florida’s disappointing season, Boughner might be at the top of the list. For a team with as many talented players like Florida, they should be able to put together a better record than 17-16-7


Brandon


Randy Carlyle


Why this move hasn’t already been made is because of one John Gibson and his ridiculous ability in net. As stated before the Ducks rank second last in goals per game (2.4) and have a goal differential of -23…. Not to mention their current 2-6-2 slide over the last 10 games.


Mack


John Hynes


The Devils are eleven points out of a playoff position after breaking into the playoffs last season. I’m not sure if their goalie issues have been goalie issues or lack of depth on the blueline. Either way, they aren’t getting the offence to make up for their lack of defensive prowess.


Nick


Craig Berube


He’s only the interim head coach, so I don’t know if this counts, but he hasn’t been good. Often interim coaches get a chance to prove themselves for a future position, but I would certainly expect the Blues to look somewhere else given how this season has been playing out.


Most Likely to be Traded


Brant


Matt Duchene


Rumour has it that contract talks with Duchene have slowed to a stop. This comes at an interesting time given that Ottawa has been trash for the last few weeks. Duchene is the perfect rental option for many teams after the resurgence that he showed before getting injured. Don’t be surprised if the center is gone when the Sens clean house.


Brandon


Mark Stone


Brant was so close to being right, all he needed was the right player. Stone could provide a lot more return as he currently has 47 points this year. He also only has one year left on his deal. Both are strong possibilities to be shipped out before the deadline, but for me Stone is the more consistent player therefore making him less of a gamble for teams trying to make a cup run.


Mack


Alexander Edler


Edler is a pending UFA with playoff experience that could slot into a top four role. Multiple teams are looking for Defence, including Toronto, Colorado and Boston. He would slot in nicely beside an offensive defenseman of the likes of Morgan Rielly or Tyson Barrie.


Nick


Wayne Simmonds


The pending UFA is not the same elite power forward he was in years past, but is still a very serviceable option for a team looking to bolster up for a playoff run. Philly’s lack of success leads me to believe they will trade him, get a decent return, and give a more prominent role to one of their young guys up front. Not a great season from him so far, but he will still fetch a decent amount on the trade market, given his reputation and the physical style he plays.


Eastern Conference Final


Brant


Toronto vs Pittsburgh


“SHUT UP LEAFS FAN!” Yeah I know. But let’s be real, If Toronto doesn’t get Boston in the first round, then they have a nice path to the Eastern Conference finals. They can clearly beat Buffalo and Montreal, and they outplayed Tampa Bay in their only meeting this season despite a loss. If those are the only teams in their way, then I think they have a legitimate chance this season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is a wagon with a brick wall in their net come playoff time. If everyone stays healthy they should be able to cruise through the playoffs again.


Brandon


Tampa Bay vs Pittsburgh


Tampa has been sniffing around the cup for a couple seasons now, and this year should be no different. They’ve gained more chemistry since last season after keeping Miller and McDonaugh on the team for long term. As well as finding the best Louis Domingue you could ask for to play backup to Vasilevskiy. Pittsburgh finally was overthrown by eventual cup winning Capitals but I find that hard to repeat this season. The Penguins have such a deep and committed roster, and somehow are finding a way to help another young tendy to a stellar season. If that transfers to the playoffs than these teams are destined to meet in the conference finals.


Mack


Tampa Bay vs Washington


I believe that Tampa is on its way back to the Cup Final, the depth they have all the way through their lineup is outstanding and if they do not win this year, they might never win with this lineup. Washington will prove to outmuscle the rest of the Metro in the playoffs, with help from stellar goaltending from Holtby once again. However, I believe this is the year of the Lightning. Lightning win 4-2.


Nick


Tampa Bay vs Columbus


I think Tampa is better than Toronto, and will come out of that side, and that Columbus will add to their roster to try and make a push before the potential departures of Panarin and Bobrovsky. Pitt and Wash are both good but I like Columbus this year, and could see them squeaking by with their fast physical style of play.


Western Conference Final


Brant


Winnipeg vs Vegas


My pick is a bit out there, I know. I firmly believe Winnipeg has the offence to outscore just about anybody in the entire an NHL, along with a goalie who has Vezina potential. They shouldn’t have too much trouble in the playoffs. The only reason I’m saying Vegas is because last year I bet against them, and almost ended up with a horrible tattoo because of it. I’m not making that mistake again… Go Knights.


Brandon


Winnipeg vs Las Vegas


Apparently I’m standing out there just as far as Brant. But it makes absolute sense. Winnipeg now has the playoff experience to be serious contenders for the cup this year. The scoring on the team is be scary when firing on all cylinders. Vegas did an excellent job improving their roster with seasoned, skilled veterans like Stastny and Pacioretty. And the Flower, well he’s still being a beautiful flower between the pipes.