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My 2022-2023 NHL Awards ballot and the methodology
I am ready to be roasted even if it's just for laughs
The NHL Awards were handed out Monday night in Nashville and while there weren’t really any surprises whatsoever, there was a little controversy, particularly around Connor McDavid winning the Hart Trophy as the MVP of the league.
McDavid was nearly unanimous in the votes apart from one voter placing him fifth on their ballot while David Pastrnak brings a lot at the wing with all the goals he can score.
Enough of the blathering on though. You’re all here to see how I voted so let’s get to it. I’m leaving this one unlocked because it’s more to share the important yet trivial moments in our lives.
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Let’s start at the top.
Winner: Connor McDavid — Edmonton Oilers
Of the votes I had, I thought this one was mostly easy to put together. McDavid had an all-universe season. Some apt, yet inconsequential, mistakes surfaced by digging through the numbers, but it was important to recognize that offense powered the NHL and McDavid was the superior offensive producer on a team that also excelled at scoring.
Tkachuk was a lock from the last couple months leading the Panthers into and through the playoffs to the Stanley Cup Final. Voting ended before the playoffs began so Tkachuk’s other-worldly performance had no effect on how anyone voted there. Robertson was on his bandwagon last season and he was even better this year. Brilliant player.
Perhaps voting Rantanen is worth a head-scratch here and I’ll own that, but it was just a monster season for him and I felt it was well worth recognition, especially considering how well Colorado turned out after all the injuries piled up.
Pastrnak was an easy person to get on my ballot, only question was where he’d end up.
Winner: Erik Karlsson - San Jose Sharks
Had it not been for Karlsson’s ridiculous season on an awful Sharks team, Fox was my No. 1 choice. A wonderful season all-around and he continues to get better. What a player.
My Makar vote will get me yelled at. Yes, he played 60 games thanks to injury and missing time compared to guys who didn’t and also had brilliant seasons should give the nod to players who were able to stay on the ice. Totally agree there. This was a moment where I got caught up in how great the player was and also just totally looking at and past the games played. I could dance around this and throw out points per game as a stat that means anything to tell you, “SEE! I’m right! Take that!”
Toss Makar and insert Josh Morrissey, for instance, and it’s not changing much in the results at all.
Mea culpa to a slight degree on voting Makar, but I stick by the choice because he was great…just he wasn’t out there as much as the Avs wanted.
Lindholm was beyond solid for Boston and playing that well for a team that did that well. He was their anchor all season long and showed Anaheim goofed up by dealing yet another top-4 defenseman.
Dahlin getting my vote was easy because I watched him all season and saw how huge his improvements were and how he was the lynchpin in the Sabres offense. An incredible season and this won’t be the last time we see him top-5 and beyond. Some Buffalo fans are deeply annoyed he finished 8th in voting, but goodness, there were so many great defensemen this season and we only get to vote for five. Besides, if you look at the vote totals breakdown, he was on more voters’ ballots than a few of the players ahead of him.
Winner: Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins
I don’t feel as if this ballot is terribly controversial, but I’ll explain how I go about this. I’ll look at almost exclusively 5-on-5 defensive metrics (CorsiFor%, xGF%, goals for/against) and see which players stand out. If someone sticks out to me, I’ll dig into their numbers with and without their most common teammates and see if there are wide variances in how they look. This is where the basis for my ballot mostly comes in. All five players I voted for grabbed my attention there and it stuck with me.
That process will sometimes lead me to someone else who may (or may not, I suppose) have greater impacts on those outcomes. It’s this process that led me to voting for Tatar where I did. I was one of two people who had him on my ballot.
I went in expecting Nico Hischier would jump out and be the guy who had the greatest effects there and found that it was Tatar who was improving virtually every teammate’s defensive metrics when they played with him. Fascinating.
Never is a ballot made with any sort of malice or “screw that guy” mentality in mind. Sometimes I just miss a guy. Maybe that’s what happened for me with Marner or Jordan Staal this year. I combed through Carolina’s numbers looking for one player who jumped out in a big way, particularly given how strong Carolina’s team defensive numbers were, but I didn’t see a player that jumped out enough to unseat the players I had in mind already. I was one of three voters to have Robertson to go with my Tatar rarity.
You never want to be the guy with too rogue of a ballot, but it’s not like I didn’t vote for Bergeron.
Winner: Matty Beniers — Seattle Kraken
All right, bring out the “homer” calls here, I’m ready. But let’s get into it.
This was an area I differed with Micah Blake McCurdy quite a bit although he’s got a lot of statistical evidence supporting his stance on Power not being all that great this season. I understand that and I’m not about to get defensive about that. I will admit my selection of him first comes with a lot of anecdotal evidence.
Watching Power this season showed me a guy who is well on his way to being one of the best in the league on defense. What didn’t help his case was the fact he wasn’t getting the most difficult assignments or the top line work on special teams because of Dahlin’s presence. Maybe that would’ve shown more people how well he played…or maybe it would’ve shown me that I’ve got him too high on my ballot.
That said, I viewed Power as being “held back” a little by his partner Henri Jokiharju this season. Power, in my view, spent many shifts needing to cover for Jokiharju so his unit wasn’t handing over scoring chances constantly. Power needing to mind the defensive end plays against what will help him stand out among the best defensemen in the league.
Playing defense in the NHL is as difficult as it gets and I tend to give a lot more leeway to rookie defensemen who stand out in their first seasons. And none of this is said to diminish what Beniers did being the best rookie scorer in the league. But this is also how Jake Sanderson wound up third on my ballot as well. After all, Power and Sanderson’s impacts were very similar and if I’m voting for one highly I’m voting for the other high up as well.
On the whole, my Calder ballot is really normal, although being one of nine to vote Power first certainly makes mine stick out.
Lady Byng Trophy
Winner: Anze Kopitar — Los Angeles Kings
I do not have anything resembling a science when it comes to deciding how to vote on this award. I don’t like to do something as lazy as sorting by PIMs and compare it to minutes played, but how else can you judge “gentlemanly” play? A player could take no penalties and still be kind of a dick out there and we’d never know it. It feels almost like it’s an award for those who don’t take penalties and who are nice enough guys off the ice dealing with us. Hey, sometimes that’s good enough.
Anyway, if this is the award you want to really get on my ass about, I suggest taking a walk and thinking about something else. I was the only person who voted Bratt first place. I was the only person to vote for Suter, period. A total of 55 players received votes for the award. Congrats to Anze Kopitar for the new hardware.