It's NHL awards season, and we at The Hockey News want to join the party…with a twist.
We've voted on similar honors to what the NHL hands out, from the most valuable player to the best goaltender. We've renamed the (virtual) hardware, though, and we've expanded the trophy case. Hate it when offensive defensemen win the Norris despite mediocre shutdown skills? No problem. We've given defensive D-men their own category. Same goes for the MVP-versus-best-player debate. All that and a few other custom categories highlight the 2015 THN awards.
Our system gives five points for a first-place vote, three for second place and one for third place. We only factor in regular-season play. Enjoy, and share your agreements and disagreements in the comment section.
WAYNE GRETZKY AWARD (Most Valuable Player)
1. Carey Price, Montreal (33 points)
2. John Tavares, New York Islanders (8 points)
3. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota (7 points)
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington (6 points)
5. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim (3 points)
In our mind the MVP winner should inspire the question, "Where would _______ have been without this guy?" Hence the landslide victory for Price. He carried the offensively challenged Montreal Canadiens to an Atlantic Division title and led the NHL in point shares. The Islanders and Wild wouldn't have been nearly as dangerous without Tavares and Dubnyk, respectively.
Also receiving votes: Andrew Hammond, Braden Holtby
MARIO LEMIEUX AWARD (Best Player)
1. Carey Price, Montreal (28 points)
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington (15 points)
3. John Tavares, New York Islanders (12 points)
4. Jamie Benn, Dallas (3 points)
T5. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh (2 points)
T5. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis (2 points)
Best, most valuable, it was Price's year any way you slice it. He paced the league in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96), and save percentage (.933). His home and road splits were very similar. He had a .920 SP or better in every month save for April, which had a tiny sample size. Price was the most dominant hockey player on Earth over the past year.
Also receiving votes: P.K. Subban
TEEMU SELANNE AWARD (Best Rookie)
1. Aaron Ekblad, Florida (19 points)
2. Mark Stone, Ottawa (18 points)
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary (13 points)
4. Andrew Hammond, Ottawa (12 points)
5. Filip Forsberg, Nashville (1 point)
Ekblad blew us away because he was such an effective workhorse blueliner at a ridiculously young age. His 39 points were the third-most ever for a D-man who started a season at 18 years old, behind only Phil Housley and Bobby Orr. Stone's amazing second half almost won him the award. Note that Calder-ineligible Hammond cracks our list. We did away with any restrictions and Makarov'd him. Hammond had 11 minutes of NHL experience entering this season, dammit.
BOBBY ORR AWARD (Best Defenseman)
1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa (17 points)
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles (16 points)
3. Duncan Keith, Chicago (10 points)
4. Mark Giordano, Calgary (6 points)
5. P.K. Subban, Montreal (5 points)
Isn't the best defense a strong offense? Karlsson remains worlds above every other blueliner in his ability to generate scoring chances. He can control a game on any given night. He notched his second straight 20-goal campaign and topped 65 points for the third time. His 292 shots ranked fourth in the NHL and were 28 more than the next-best defenseman had.
Also receiving votes: Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, Shea Weber
PATRICK ROY AWARD (Best Goalie)
1. Carey Price, Montreal (35 points)
T2. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota (9 points)
T2. Braden Holtby, Washington (9 points)
T2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville (9 points)
Yawn. Another one for Price, and the vote is unanimous for first place. The consistent and tireless Holtby, who appeared in a league-high 73 games, ties Vezina Trophy finalists Dubnyk and Rinne. It's our thinking Holtby narrowly missed out on a real-life nod and was just as deserving as those two.
Also receiving votes: Corey Schneider, New Jersey
SAKU KOIVU AWARD (Comeback Player)
1. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota (23 points)
2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville (10 points)
3. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (9 points)
T4. Tyler Myers, Buffalo/Winnipeg (5 points)
T5. Rick Nash, New York Rangers (5 points)
This category sparked a philosophical debate. Is it more impressive to come back from poor play or from adversity, as in injuries or off-ice problems? The former won out, as Dubnyk went from AHL washout to one of the league's best netminders in less than a year. Rinne, who bounced back from 2013-14 hip problems, got some first-place votes.
Also receiving votes: Mike Ribeiro, Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Nick Foligno
ROD LANGWAY AWARD (Best Defensive Defenseman)
1. Duncan Keith, Chicago (10 points)
2. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers (8 points)
3. Shea Weber, Nashville (7 points)
4. Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay (6 points)
5. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota (5 points)
The room was quite divided here, but it's tough to argue the top pick. Keith is such an impressive defensive rearguard because, in theory, teams have every opportunity to expose him. He plays so much of every game. Yet he continues to post exemplary puck-possession numbers.
Also receiving votes: Marco Scandella, Kris Russell, Marc Methot, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Zdeno Chara, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jacob Trouba, Dan Girardi, Tyler Myers, Johnny Oduya
CAM NEELY AWARD (Breakout Player)
1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis (18 points)
2. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota (13 points)
3. Braden Holtby, Washington (8 points)
T4. Nick Foligno, Columbus (5 points)
T4. Justin Faulk, Carolina (5 points)
Doesn't it feel like Tarasenko is here to stay as an elite NHL goal scorer for the next decade or so? It was only a matter of time before his talent, health and coach Ken Hitchcock's trust synchronized in one season. Given his electric shot and the highlight-reel nature of his goals, Tarasenko is only warming up. He sniped 37 goals in 77 games this season. Will it surprise anyone if he jumps into the 40s and challenges for the Rocket Richard Trophy next season?
Also receiving votes: Tyler Johnson, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Tyson Barrie
JOHN FERGUSON AWARD (Toughest Player)
1. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg (13 points)
2. Tom Wilson, Washington (12 points)
3. Zdeno Chara, Boston (8 points)
4. Shea Weber, Nashville (7 points)
5. Derek Dorsett, Vancouver (6 points)
It hurts when these guys hit you, and it hurts to hit them. 'Big Buff,' the NHL's heaviest player, scares opponents in so many ways. His shot is blistering, his bodychecks thunderous, and his lack of discipline constantly keeps him on the edge of a dirty play.
Also receiving votes: Kris Russell, Tyler Johnson, Andrew Ladd, Matt Martin, Cody McLeod, Mark Stuart, Milan Lucic
GUY CARBONNEAU AWARD (Top Penalty Killer)
1. Kyle Brodziak, Minnesota (13 points)
2. Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles (11 points)
T3. Patrice Bergeron, Boston (5 points)
T3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh (5 points)
T3. Luke Glendening, Detroit (5 points)
T3. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis (5 points)
Do you award the guy who played the most shorthanded minutes at forward, a-la Glendening? The shorthanded scoring demon, a-la Toffoli? The winner was the centerpiece of the league's top-rated penalty kill, Brodziak. What's with Fleury on the list? One of our voters took the "goalie is your best penalty killer" cliche too far. Woof.
Also receiving votes: Semyon Varlamov, John Carlson, Brandon Sutter, Rob Scuderi, Andrew Hammond, Rick Nash, Tomas Plekanec
BOB PROBERT AWARD (Best Fighter)
1. Ryan Reaves, St. Louis (19 points)
2. Tom Wilson, Washington (12 points)
T3. Jared Boll, Columbus (8 points)
T3. Derek Dorsett, Vancouver (8 points)
5. Brandon Bollig, Calgary (6 points)
The league's true champ must defend the belt against deadly competition. Reaves, whose fists are fast and heavy, threw down with beasts Wilson, Bollig, Shawn Thornton, B.J. Crombeen, Clayton Stoner and Anthony Peluso. Reaves fought less this season, but we think he just had trouble finding a willing opponent.
Also receiving votes: Matt Martin, Kyle Clifford, Mark Borowiecki, Zdeno Chara, B.J. Crombeen, Cody McLeod
PAVEL BURE AWARD (Best Shootout Shooter)
1. Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim (35 points)
T2. Gustav Nyquist, Detroit (11 points)
T3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado (11 points)
4. Patrick Kane, Chicago (6 points)
Hey, shootout enthusiasts (enthusiast?), enjoy this award while it still matters. The advent of 3-on-3 overtime should drastically reduce the number of breakaway bonanzas. This award is our most straightforward. We chose the player who scored the most. Silfverberg converted nine of 13 shots, which was the best efficiency of any player with more than one attempt. Wow.
GILLES VILLEMURE AWARD (Best Shootout Goalie)
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus (29 points)
2. Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo/Dallas (22 points)
3. Corey Crawford, Chicago (9 points)
T4. Viktor Fasth, Edmonton (1 point)
T4. Carey Price, Montreal (1 point)
T4. Antti Niemi, San Jose (1 point)
Tight race for the top two here. Enroth was near perfect, stopping 20 of 21 shots to go 5-0, which is pretty amazing given how small he is. Bobrovsky had the bigger sample size, however, blocking 32 of 36 shots and going 7-1.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin