We’re now over a quarter of the way through the 2019-20 season, and we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of who will be in the running for some of the NHL’s major awards.
We recently ran a poll asking readers to pick the players they believe will win the Calder (best rookie), the Hart (league MVP), the Norris (best defenseman), the Vezina (best goalie) and the Jack Adams (best coach). Unsurprisingly, no one is expecting any Minnesota Wild players to contend for these awards — after their awful start to the season, some fans may not be aware of Minnesota’s much improved play over the last month.
However, that doesn’t mean no one on the Wild should get some consideration.
It feels like a near guarantee that the Jack Adams will be awarded to either Barry Trotz (New York Islanders), Dave Tippett (Edmonton Oilers) or Rick Tocchet (Arizona Coyotes). Their teams have been fantastic through the first quarter of the season, and there’s no reason to assume they can’t keep the momentum going.
However, if the Wild continue to play as well as they have been, should Bruce Boudreau be in the conversation? After the circus act that was Minnesota’s 2019 offseason, the fact that Boudreau has his team playing competitive hockey is a small miracle. Assuming Minnesota manages to keep up the good play (the jury’s still out on whether that’s a realistic expectation), it would be surprising if Boudreau didn’t get a few votes.
The Wild player most likely to be in the Calder conversation would probably be defenseman Carson Soucy, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he doesn’t even get a vote. While Soucy has played well after earning a roster spot in training camp, he’s a 25-year-old rookie with just five points in 26 games. He would have to have a mesmerizing finish to the season in order to get much recognition.
Also, he likely won’t win the Calder because the award is almost definitely going to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. The things Makar is doing as a rookie are unprecedented, and he could very well break the record for points by a rookie in a single season. The award is his to lose.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is the clear favorite to win the Norris. Through 31 games, the 29-year-old blueliner has collected 11 goals and 43 points, which leads all defensemen by a country mile.
If any Wild player were to be in the running for the Norris, it would probably be Jared Spurgeon, who has been one of the league’s most underrated defensemen for years. However, he will be out of action for a couple weeks as he recovers from an upper-body injury, and his game just doesn’t get the recognition it deserves from those outside of the Minnesota market.
No one on the Wild will be be winning this award, but a former Wild player might! Darcy Kuemper has been downright spectacular for the Coyotes this season, and it would be pretty cool to see him take home some hardware. As for right now, though, Tuukka Rask is getting the lion’s share of the votes. Of course, with over half of the season remaining, that could certainly change.
The race for the Hart could wind up being an intense battle between Connor McDavid and David Pastrnak down the stretch. On one hand, McDavid currently ranks second in the NHL (behind teammate Leon Draisaitl) with 52 points in 31 games. Pastrnak, though, is averaging nearly a goal per game and has 43 points in 29 games. Both players are certainly deserving of MVP honors, and it should be a blast watching the two attempt to outduel one another as the season progresses.
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