Prior to Wednesday’s NHL Awards the voting breakdown for each trophy was a mystery. The only thing hockey fans only knew were the finalists, meaning the players that finished top three in votes in their respective categories.
However, once the hardware was handed out we began to learn more about how the votes for each award were broken down. Also, for the first time in 50 years, the Professional Hockey Writers Association decided to make each individual voter ballot publicly available in the interest of full transparency.
While there were no major surprises at the awards ceremony in Las Vegas, there were some tight ballots, a few interesting tidbits to digest as well as some head-scratchers.
Despite winning the Ted Lindsay Award for a second consecutive season for being the most outstanding player as voted on by the NHLPA, Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid only finished fifth in Hart voting behind winner Taylor Hall, finalists Nathan MacKinnon and Anze Kopitar, plus Claude Giroux of the Flyers.
Kopitar had one more first place vote and one more second place vote than Giroux and that was the difference between the Kings centre being the third finalist and Giroux being a finalist for the second time in his career—Giroux finished third in Hart voting in 2014.
Clearly the fact the Oilers were an unmitigated disaster in 2017-18 was the main reason why McDavid didn’t receive more Hart votes but it’s still somewhat of an anomaly compared to previous years.
Evgeni Malkin finished the season with nine more points than Sidney Crosby and he had 96 more voting points than his Penguins teammate. Malkin finished seventh in voting while Crosby was one of four players to receive just one fifth-place vote—Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal and Norris winner Victor Hedman were the others.
Hedman and Drew Doughty were the only two defencemen to receive any Hart votes with Doughty having one fourth-place vote and Hedman garnering a single fifth-place vote. Pekka Rinne, Connor Hellebuyck and Sergei Bobrovsky were the lone goalies to receive votes. Bobrovsky, however, was not a finalist for the Vezina; his countryman Andrei Vasilevskiy got a Vezina nod but nothing in the Hart category.
Thirty-one players received Selke consideration. Kopitar won the award for the second time in three years after earning nearly twice as many first-place votes as runner-up Sean Couturier. Four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron finished third, which crazily enough is his worst finish in the Selke race since 2011. Offensive superstars like Crosby, McDavid, Hall, Giroux, John Tavares, Mark Scheilele and Vladimir Tarasenko also received votes for the defensive forward award, as did oft-unheralded role players like Colton Sissons and Zach Hyman.
A whopping 56 players received votes for the Lady Byng. Of note, McDavid and Austin Matthews both finished in the top 10, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin finished 19th and 20th, respectively, proving they were pure class right up until the conclusion of their NHL careers. Roberto Luongo, who finished the season with zero penalty minutes for the sixth time in his career, was the lone goalie to earn any Lady Byng consideration.
The Calder was a far simpler vote with only 12 rookies getting any shine. Mathew Barzal was the runaway winner with 160 first-place votes. Brock Boeser, whose season was cut short due to a back injury, was the only other player with multiple first-place votes with two. Clayton Keller and Yanni Gourde each had one.
The Norris ultimately came down to Doughty or Hedman and the Tampa Bay stalwart walked away with his first major NHL award. A few surprise blueliners to receive votes included Josh Manson of the Ducks and Hurricanes standout Jaccob Slavin.
NHL general managers vote on the Vezina Trophy, the NHLPA votes on the Ted Lindsay Award and the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association votes on the Jack Adams Award so the voting breakdown for those awards were not made public.