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2021-2022 NHL Awards Predictions

With the 2021-22 NHL season starting tomorrow night, there seems like no better time to release predictions for this year’s individual awards.

Who will be taking home some hardware after the season?

Art Ross Trophy (Most Points)- Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. With all due respect to the many great players in the NHL, McDavid has given fans no reason to expect anything less than him leading the league in points, and potentially by a wide margin. He is the best player in the world; there’s no reason to overthink this one.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (Most Goals)- David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins)

This award could create an intriguing three-horse race throughout the season between two of the game’s young stars in Pastrnak and Auston Matthews, and one of the greatest players in history in Alex Ovechkin. Matthews paced the league last season, but its hard to judge how that will translate this year with a return to a normal schedule. Counting out Ovechkin is never a smart play, but Pastrnak gets the nod here, if for no other reason than a simple hunch.

Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)- Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers)

Many people who follow prospects, college hockey, and the World Junior Championships knew Knight was going to be good, but even they were likely surprised with just how good he was at the end of last season (albeit a limited sample size). Knight played well enough for the Panthers to let Chris Driedger head to Seattle despite the ongoing struggles of the high-paid Sergei Bobrovsky. Knight has a great chance to start a significant number of games this season for a Florida team that has a chance to make some noise in the Atlantic division.

Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year)- Joel Quenneville (Florida Panthers)

The Panthers have a chance to have a massive season, in part due to their netminder mentioned above and having one of the most successful coaches in history. Usually, winning this award comes from a team being highly successful in the regular season, or a team overachieving significantly. For Quenneville to win, Florida likely would need to win the Atlantic division, and possibly compete for the President’s Trophy, given I am far from the only one expecting this to be a strong team this year. Outclassing Tampa Bay and Boston won’t be easy, but it is certainly possible given the depth of their roster.

Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)- Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)

This is a tougher award to predict, given the subjectivity in the voting. Some people view this award for best defensive forward more in terms of best two-way forward. Knowing some people could, essentially, be voting based on different criteria, there could be any number of preseason favorites for the award. With so much unknown, the best bet for this award is Bergeron as he has collected the trophy four times in his career and has been a finalist for the honor seemingly every year for a decade.

Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)- Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets)

I suspect a vast majority of preseason predictions for this award will point to Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is widely considered the best goaltender in the league. Some may even look to Darcy Kuemper of the Colorado Avalanche, a highly talented netminder on arguably the best team, on paper, heading into the season. Those predictions are more than justified, but I am bullish on the Jets as a team and Hellebuyck as an elite player at his position. If both he and his team play to their potential this season, he has as good a shot as any to win this award.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (Best Defenseman)- Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

It would be really hard to avoid taking the chalk selection here, as Makar has given no reason to expect much less than a season worthy of consideration for the award. Despite battling injuries last season that limited him to 44 of his team’s 56 games, he still finished third in the Norris Trophy voting. With a full, healthy season, Makar should be the favorite to take home this award for the first time.

Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)- Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)

There is a great likelihood that if Connor McDavid has a typical Connor McDavid season, team success won’t have much to do with the voting for this award because of how great of a player he is. However, if MacKinnon can put up numbers in the ballpark of McDavid, which he is certainly capable of, health permitting, he has a great shot at winning this award. If the Avalanche are as good as many people expect them to be, their best player will likely be in consideration for MVP.

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