*Oprah voice* You get a trophy! You get a trophy! And you get a trophy!
That’s right. Christmas may be in the rear view, but we’re still in a generous mood. So, we’re handing out 31 plaques and medals, ribbons and trophies in our NHL Power Rankings: Midseason Awards Edition.
Per tradition, all teams are ranked in descending order according to current impressiveness.
The write-ups, however, share details of the personalized award handed out to each hockey club (or member of each club) at a semiformal banquet held Thursday morning at an undisclosed town legion, hosted by Mickey Gervais. (Ricky was busy.)
Most Intriguing Backup Goalie. Rookie Ilya Samsonov is a sparkling 12-2-1 with a .921 save percentage and has been perfect on the road (8-0-0), gradually building a case that the Capitals might survive
when if they don’t re-sign Braden Holtby.
Best Championship Hangover Cure. Just keep winning, which the Blues have been doing at a clip better than any team in the West (.686). This despite losing their most dynamic sniper, Vladimir Tarasenko, right out of the gates; dressing a captain who’s playing under an uncertain future; and playing more hockey than anyone else last season.
Sleeping Giant Award. A scuffling start and a light schedule had folks forgetting about the Bolts like they forgot about Dre. Big mistake. The Lightning are now sixth in points percentage, fourth in goal differential, and their goaltending has been just OK. Attention, Boston and Toronto: Get nervous.
Most Resilient Award. Considering the Penguins’ colour scheme and top-of-the-line durability, they are the DeWalt of hockey teams. Despite the beating they’ve absorbed—Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz, Nick Bjugstad and Brian Dumoulin have all missed significant time—they keep drilling everything in their path.
Most Headlines (repeat champion). Never a dull moment in the centre of the hockey universe. A dramatic coaching change, a rash of injuries, some drastic hot and cold streaks, a 50-goal pursuit, and highlight-reel strikes for and against have given fans and media much to chew on. Feels like Auston Matthews’ little legal spat and Mitch Marner’s contract dispute took place 12 years ago.
Mid-term Calder Trophy. To 21-year-old defenceman Cale Makar, who has produced at nearly a point-per-game pace while playing big minutes and exhibiting an ice-veined approach to a critical position.
Sharpshooter Award. To David Pastrnak, who leads the Rocket Richard Trophy race (32 goals) despite seeing less ice time than the rest of the NHL’s top eight goal-getters.
Thief in the (K)Night Trophy. To Mark Stone for running away with the league’s most takeaways (60), again.
9. Dallas Stars
Tandem Trophy. Despite a dreadful start, the Stars are the stingiest hockey club in the NHL, thanks in large part to a last line of defence — goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin — that both pushes each other and spells each other off smoothly.
Low-Event Hockey Award. It’s incredible that the Islanders have risen to contender status in the Metropolitan when they fire the second-fewest shots (29.1 per game) and rank bottom 10 in goals.
11. Winnipeg Jets
Blue Line Perseverance Plaque. The Jets’ ability to not only hang in the hunt but look downright lethal at times in the first half is remarkable considering the litany of injuries and departures that have ravaged their back end.
Team You Least Want to Bet On Award. The highly entertaining Canucks are wildly inconsistent, riding long winning streaks and dipping for stretches too. They could top the Pacific or miss the post-season again. It’s anybody guess and nobody’s safe bet on the money line.
The Ingenuity Medal of Honour. To Andrei Svechnikov, who broke the NHL’s lacrosse-goal barrier then did it again for good measure.
14. Arizona Coyotes
Mortgage the Future Award (presented by Jarmo Kekalainen). The Coyotes boldly traded from the cupboard in order to secure the trade deadline’s biggest prize more than two months before the deadline. If Taylor Hall can help restore April hockey revenue to Glendale, it’ll be worth it.
15. Florida Panthers
Superstar No One Talks About Award. To Jonathan Huberdeau, who is quietly outproducing the likes of Patrick Kane, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Ovechkin.
16. Edmonton Oilers
The Goal Worth Waiting For Award. To Connor McDavid, who waited five seasons to score his first NHL goal in his hometown rink, but made certain to make it a memorable one.
WHAT A MOVE. WHAT A GOAL.
New year, same Connor McDavid. pic.twitter.com/mwNERgAx0X
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 7, 2020
Oskar Strong Award. We’re pulling for you, Mr. Lindblom.
18. Calgary Flames
Best Performance in a Drama. To David Rittich, the Flames’ new Number 1 goalie, for keeping the club afloat during controversy, trade rumours, inconsistency, and one of the most severe drop-offs in run support we can recall.
Sacrificial Lamb Award. To the recently disposed Peter Laviolette, given his walking papers after failing to get average goaltending or any notable offensive output from the Preds’ well-compensated forwards. (We’re not looking at you, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Bonino.) You can lead a franchise to its deepest playoff run ever, but if your message isn’t getting results….
Fan Initiative of the Year. To Amanda Myers, who has raised more than $10,800 toward paying coach John Tortorella’s $20,000 NHL-imposed fine for calling out poor clock management in a loss.
21. Minnesota Wild
Refuse to Tank Award. Even though it may be in the Wild’s best long-term interest to follow the Detroit model, Bruce Boudreau’s bunch can’t help themselves but try to win hockey games and fight hard for the bubble.
“Where Do They Go from Here?” Award. Chicago’s crumbling dynasty is nearly as intriguing as its rise. Do they keep Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner? How will they gracefully untangle themselves from the Brent Seabrook contract? Do any of the icons — Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith — finish their career in a different sweater?
23. Buffalo Sabres
Orator of the Winter. To new Sabres coach Ralph Krueger, whose press conferences become exercises of eloquence and who is the last to throw a player under the bus.
24. New York Rangers
Premium Trade Bait Award. To power forward Chris Kreider, a pending UFA whose hard-nosed game would look swell in April and who should be the most coveted rental piece in next month’s market.
Spaghetti on the Wall Award. To GM Marc Bergevin and coach Claude Julien, who keep throwing out (checks notes) a $700,000 Ilya Kovalchuk, hoping he sticks and praying anything can save this season.
26. San Jose Sharks
Head-Scratching Stat Award. The San Jose Sharks have somehow found a way to easily lead the league in penalty-kill percentage (88.5) while still surrendering more goals overall than anyone else in the West.
27. Anaheim Ducks
Can’t Buy a Goal Award. When you combine the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, no roster has had more difficulty putting the biscuit in the basket than the once-mighty Ducks, averaging just 2.44 goals per game over the past 18 months. Poor John Gibson.
Geographical Rivalry of the Year: Drew Doughty versus Western Canada (but Edmonton, you’re cool).
29. Ottawa Senators
Comeback Player of the Year. To Anthony Duclair, who jumped from having a respected coach (John Tortorella) wonder if he was NHL-worthy to a hard-earned All-Star Game invite, his first.
Maybe It Wasn’t the Coach Award. The New Jersey Devils have lost another 10 games since firing John Hynes last month. Meanwhile, Hynes was scooped right back up by Nashville.
Cringey PR Move Award. To Dylan Larkin. Hey, we love us some D-Boss, but publicly shirking the All-Star Game and saying you’d rather have days off when you’ve only attended once (2016) is not a good look.