In January Bob McKenzie polled 20 NHL coaches to get their perspective on who the top players were in various categories. He gave coaches a new set of criteria and polled 20 coaches again, this time including three major awards races. Did the coaches votes make any more sense this time around? They did, even if there are still some gaps in their voting.
Carey Price swept the first place votes because he has been that good for the Montreal Canadiens. The other players in consideration based on the coaches votes are:
1. Alexander Ovechkin
2. John Taveres
3. Sidney Crosby
4. Ryan Getzlaf
Including Price, the coaches would not have Crosby top three in Hart Trophy voting. This is an interesting development has he is currently in the lead for the Art Ross Trophy. Crosby's lower on-ice shooting percentage has been written about a bit, but it is fair to point out that his on-ice shooting percentage is the lowest of the four forwards mentioned in McKenzie's poll about the Hart Trophy.
The y-axis is the on-ice shooting percentage and as previously mentioned Crosby has the lowest in the group. Crosby takes the second toughest relative zone starts, along with Ovechkin. Only Getzlaf has tougher zone starts that Crosby and Ovechkin relative to his teammates. What is most interesting is how much better at possession Crosby is compared to his team, a stat called CorsiRel. His circle is the darkest blue by a lot, meaning he drives possession on his team more than his peers he is currently being compared to.
Taking nothing away from Ovechkin, what Crosby does for the Pittsburgh Penguins night in night out from a possession driving perspective makes him more valuable to his team when not scoring.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
The Norris is an odd trophy because it is a trophy that has a bunch of players that many say "deserve" to win it. The only way one deserves to win a trophy unless their current season lends to them being deserving of winning the trophy. No defenceman deserves it because they were good in seasons past.
While all of Mark Giordano, P.K. Subban, and Erik Karlsson have higher on-ice shooting percentages than their peers, the three of them have a a larger impact on their respective teams possession numbers than any other defencemen that the coaches named. Although both Subban and Karlsson start more shifts in the offensive zone than the defensive zone, they still have a more positive impact on their respective teams possession wise than someone like Drew Doughty, who plays on the vaunted Los Angeles Kings possession machine. Subban and Karlsson should both be Norris finalists, even if the coaches are largely ignoring Subban's fine season.
If neither of Karlsson or Subban win the Norris, it is not a travesty, but is does point to the idea that the best players not getting rewarded fairly rewarded for their seasons because someone else has never won an award. The NHL is not kindergarten; not everyone has to win at the end of the day. That does not mean that Weber for example is a bad player, it just means that he is not top 3 in his position. He is still good, just not that good.
The coaches had Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames winning the Clader Trophy, but it should go to Aaron Ekblad based on how good Ekblad has been this year. As good as Gaudreau has been, what Ekblad did on defence for the Florida Panthers as a teenager is insane. In any other year, Gaudreau would be a very worthy winner, but one cannot ignore the season that Ekblad has had this year.
The more interesting debate may be between Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators. Forsberg has faired better possession wise. Both players would make worthy candidate, but the coaches error in who they awarded the Calder Trophy to. No worries, they do not actually vote on this award anyways.