Every other week, we’ll bring you an updated look at the candidates for the major awards around the NHL… Tracker archive: Nov. 17 Dec. 2
HART TROPHY 1. Claude Giroux, PHI
Stats: 28 GP, 16 G, 23 A, 39 Pts, +7
Giroux may be sidelined with a concussion right now, but at this point season no player has meant more to his team than Giroux to the Flyers. The 23-year-old budding star is Mr. Everything for the Flyers and is elite in many facets of the game. Giroux, the NHL’s leading point-getter, has been clutch for his team all year. The Flyers have won six straight, and Giroux has three game-winning goals in that stretch. 2. Phil Kessel, TOR
Stats: 30 GP, 18 G, 18 A, 34 Pts, +2
It seems like Kessel and Giroux alternate spots every week or two. Kessel, who ranks second in the NHL in goals and points, has obviously been a valuable cog in the Leafs lineup this season. He’s come through in the clutch all year, but we haven’t seen as much of that of late. His production has ‘dropped off’, if you will, with just six points in the last eight games. Still, Kessel is right in the thick of the MVP race. 3. Jonathan Toews, CHI
Stats: 31 GP, 18 G, 16 A, 34 Pts, +12
I don’t know where the Blackhawks this season would be without Toews. Whenever the ‘Hawks need a big play or a spark, Toews always seems to be there. Since Nov. 25, the captain has 15 points in nine games. Aside from the production, Toews does it all on both ends of the ice for the ‘Hawks.
VEZINA TROPHY 1. Tim Thomas, BOS
Stats: 14-5-0, 1.93 GAA, .940 SV%, 3 SO
Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner didn’t lose a game in November and, somehow at his age, is getting better. With a .940 save percentage and 1.93 GAA, Thomas actually has better peripheral numbers than last season. Thomas has made 40-plus saves in three of his last four wins, showing the game-changing features from last year. 2. Jimmy Howard, DET
Stats: 18-7-1, 1.90 GAA, .929 SV%, 3 SO
Howard always gets the glass-half-empty treatment from hockey fans, who believe his success is based purely on the team in front of him. This season, though, Howard has had to be on his A-game more nights than not. He leads the NHL in wins and, whether you like it or not, Howard is a Vezina candidate. 3. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
Stats: 12-7-4, 2.07 GAA, .932 SV%, 2 SO
The rest of the Vezina race is wide open, but Lundqvist continues to be a stalwart in the Rangers’ net. He’s a big reason why the Blueshirts are playing their best hockey of the year and contending for the division. If he continues to put up these numbers, he’ll certainly be in this discussion all year.
NORRIS TROPHY 1. Shea Weber, NSH
Stats: 31 GP, 8 G, 15 A, 23 Pts, +14
Weber means everything to the Preds and is unquestionably among the elite on the blue line. On Thursday he had a Norris-like performance against Detroit, scoring twice in the final five minutes to lift the Preds to a comeback win. Weber is tied for the team lead in points on the power play, a unit that is ranked second in the NHL. He also trails the team lead in points by one. Weber is an all-around dominant defenseman, especially on his own end of the ice. 2. Zdeno Chara, BOS
Stats: 28 GP, 6 G, 13 A, 19 Pts, +18
Chara was dominant last month, racking up 14 points and a plus-14 rating in 13 games. In December he has one goal and a plus-3 rating. ‘Big Z’ is hovering around 25 minutes of ice time per game. Though he is currently banged up with a lower-body injury, Chara is always in the Norris discussion. This year will be no different. 3. Erik Karlsson, OTT
Stats: 32 GP, 2 G, 24 A, 26 Pts, -7
Ottawa is hanging around the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite low expectations, and Karlsson is a big reason. There isn’t much offensive depth for the Senators up front, so Karlsson’s league-leading production from the back end has been valuable. He has averaged over 25 minutes of ice time and is producing more at even strength than last year. Karlsson is one of many defensemen who could have been in this slot.
CALDER TROPHY 1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM
Stats: 31 GP, 13 G, 20 A, 33 Pts, +1
This is a no-brainer. The top overall pick from this past summer has exceeded expectations through the first quarter-plus. In 31 games, he has looked better than other recent No. 1 picks in their rookie seasons and leads the Oilers in points. ‘RNH’ has been a catalyst for the Oilers, who are trying to hold on in the West’s playoff picture. 2. Craig Smith, NSH
Stats: 31 GP, 8 G, 16 A, 24 Pts, +1
Smith has impressed many with his instant success as a rookie. He leads the Predators in points and has contributed in every facet of the game. Barry Trotz’s gang hasn’t had a special talent like Smith since the Alexander Radulov days, and he’s been an important part in the Preds raising their offensive game. 3. Adam Henrique, NJ
Stats: 27 GP, 7 G, 16 A, 23 Pts, +3
With Travis Zajac healthy again, we’ll see how Henrique’s role changes (if at all) in New Jersey. The former third round pick has centered the team’s top line almost since the moment he put on that Devils sweater this season. Henrique is tied for second in points on the Devils and has 12 points in his last 10 games.
JACK ADAMS AWARD 1. Kevin Dineen, FLA
Record: 16-9-6, 3rd Eastern Conference
Dineen is one of many rookie head coaches that are turning heads in the first half. Remarkably, the Panthers lead the Southeast Division. Combined with the front office work of GM Dale Tallon, Dineen is doing a great job getting a team full of new faces to buy in and compete every night. If the Panthers make their first playoff appearance since 2000, Dineen should win the Jack Adams unanimously. 2. Mike Yeo, MIN
Record: 20-8-4, 1st Western Conference
Like Florida, the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild have been one of many surprises this year. The goaltending – no matter whether it’s Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, or Matt Hackett – has been a catalyst for a team that doesn’t have much depth. Yeo has been a breath of fresh air for the Wild, who have had more downs than ups in recent years. 3. Ken Hitchcock, STL
Record: 18-9-3, 5th Western Conference
The before and after of Hitchcock’s arrival in St. Louis is staggering. When Davis Payne was fired, the Blues were 6-7-0; since Hitchcock stepped behind the bench they are 12-2-3. Hitchcock has given the Blues the proper wake-up call, and they are now fulfilling their potential. If this success keeps up, how can ‘Hitch’ not be in the Jack Adams discussion?
*Stats through Thursday, December 15 Photo credit: Getty Images
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