Published On: Thu, Mar 1st, 2018

NHL Awards watch: Where things stand as we hit the home stretch

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We’re now just over three quarters of the way through the season, so it’s time once again to check in on the award races around the NHL. This edition was compiled by editors Josh Gold-Smith and Craig Hagerman. Our previous edition was assembled back in early January at the halfway point.

Hart Trophy – Nikita Kucherov

Previously: John Tavares

The Tampa Bay Lightning star is leading the Art Ross Trophy race with 82 points in 63 games, and he’s tied for fourth in the hunt for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with 33 goals.

Kucherov has been dominant virtually all season long, and along with Steven Stamkos, he’s helped the Lightning remain at or near the top of the league since the fall.

There are certainly others worthy of consideration, like Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrice Bergeron, and even Eric Staal, but considering the impact Kucherov’s tremendous production has had on his club’s unmatched success so far in the regular season, the Hart Trophy is his to lose. – Gold-Smith

Vezina Trophy – Andrei Vasilevskiy

Previously: Vasilevskiy

Several other netminders have made their case for goalie of the year, such as Pekka Rinne and Connor Hellebuyck, but Vasilevskiy still has the inside track.

The Lightning netminder paces the league in wins and shutouts, while rocking a .927 save percentage and a 2.34 GAA.

He’s faced the third-most rubber this season and turned away the second-most shots. He’s also been between the pipes for 37 of Tampa Bay’s 43 wins this season, and aside from Kucherov, could be considered the club’s 2017-18 MVP. – Hagerman

Norris Trophy – Victor Hedman

Previously: Drew Doughty

The Lightning are primed to win a bevy of individual honors, including the award for the NHL’s best defenseman, for which it’s hard to argue Hedman is undeserving.

John Klingberg has a legitimate case himself, leading all rearguards in assists and points for an improved Dallas Stars squad, and P.K. Subban‘s contributions with the best-in-the-West Nashville Predators deserve recognition, too. But Hedman has been both productive and instrumental to the Lightning’s success when healthy while averaging nearly 26 minutes of ice time.

Others, like Doughty and Erik Karlsson (regardless of the Ottawa Senators‘ record) will always be in the conversation as well, but Hedman should take home the Norris for the first time in his career if he continues to play at an elite level for arguably the NHL’s best team. – Gold-Smith

Calder Trophy – Mathew Barzal

Previously: Brock Boeser

With 18 games remaining, the New York Islanders phenom is just two points shy of matching Auston Matthews‘ 69-point output from his Calder Trophy-winning season last year.

Barzal sits 15th in league scoring, has outscored teammate John Tavares, and has put up 13 more points than his Vancouver Canucks rookie counterpart Boeser.

His vision and speed have been otherworldly, and with three five-point games this year, he’s proven he can seamlessly take over a game at just 20 years of age. – Hagerman

Selke Trophy – Patrice Bergeron

Previously: Bergeron

The four-time Selke winner is on pace to challenge career highs in goals and points despite being slowed by injuries, and while his offensive production has been impressive, his defensive prowess at the center position remains unparalleled.

No forward in the NHL is as sound in all three zones as Bergeron, and there’s no reason to bet against the Boston Bruins pivot being named the league’s best defensive forward for a fifth time – Gold-Smith

Jack Adams Award – Gerard Gallant

Previously: Gallant

What else can be said about Gallant and the Vegas Golden Knights that hasn’t already been said about their miraculous first season?

Vegas sits second in the NHL standings, just three points back of the Lightning, while holding a 10-point advantage and a game in hand on the San Jose Sharks, who sit second in the Pacific Division.

Gallant has his trail mix of players playing at an elite level and it’s likely for that reason that the team made very few moves to improve the roster at the deadline. – Hagerman

GM of the Year – David Poile

Previously: Poile

The Nashville Predators general manager will become the winningest GM in NHL history with his club’s next victory, and he won this award last year, but he’s done enough this season to justify claiming it once again.

Poile pulled off one of the sneakier depth moves at the trade deadline, landing 23-year-old forward Ryan Hartman from the Chicago Blackhawks, and it paid immediate dividends.

His work last summer and this season has been well documented, namely signing Nick Bonino and trading for Kyle Turris. Throw it all together and he’s put the Predators in position to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.

George McPhee has done impressive work with the Vegas Golden Knights, but he benefited from unprecedented expansion-draft rules. And while cases could be made for others such as Ray Shero of the New Jersey Devils and Kevin Cheveldayoff with the Winnipeg Jets, Poile is the NHL’s best GM until proven otherwise. – Gold-Smith

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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