On The Forecheck’s 2019-20 NHL Awards: Part 2

The conclusion of On The Forecheck’s awards.

The exciting conclusion...

...of On The Forecheck’s 2019-20 Awards voting.  This edition includes the Rod Langway award, currently only awarded at mid-season by the PWHA—but we at OTF will always appreciate good defense.  As a reminder, points were awarded based on ranking:

1st place: 10 points
2nd place: 7 points
3rd place: 5 points
4th place: 3 points
5th place: 1 point

Voting was a little more scattered for the non skill-based awards (so basically everything but the Langway), so vote totals may be limited.

Rod Langway Award

Awarded to the best defensive defender (PHWA mid-season award)

Jaccob Slavin | Carolina Hurricanes

The Pro Hockey Writers Association votes on this award unofficially at mid-season, with the aim to identify the best defensive defender—what a concept, right?  And even though the season came slamming to a halt with a dozen or so games remaining, the OTF staff agreed with the PHWA mid-season awards, giving the Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin the nod for this award.

Slavin finds himself in pretty elite company among our top vote-getters (except one, which I’ll expand on later).  The Carolina defender averaged a little over 18:00 per game at 5 on 5 and had the following on-ice percentages at even-strength (for defenders with minimum 500 minutes TOI per Evolving Hockey):

  • Goals For %: 57.7% (21st)
  • Shot Attempts For (Corsi) %:  55.7% (8th)
  • Expected Goals For %: 55.1% (17th)/

His impact isolate from HockeyViz shows a pretty good impact as well:

The “award” was created to separate the defensive effort from the much more offensively-minded Norris Trophy, and Slavin is definitely a solid choice to fill that role.

Langway Award Voting

Final RankPlayerPointsFirst Place Votes

Jack Adams Award

Awarded to the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success

Alain Vigneault | Philadelphia Flyers

In Alain Vigneault’s first season, the Philadelphia Flyers have turned into a new team—focusing on improving the defense while getting more aggressive offensively.  Even with the losses of players like Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, the Flyers surged in the second half the regular season, boasting a points percentage of 64.5%—up from 50% last season.

The Flyers improved statistically as well from 2018-19 to this season:

  • Goals For %: 46.0% (23rd) to 54.6% (4th) in 2019-20
  • Shot Attempts For (Corsi) %: 48.5% (21st) to 51.9% (8th)
  • Expected Goals For %: 49.5% (18th) to 51.2% (14th)/

There was a strong argument for Columbus’ John Tortorella, who entered the season’s pause with a roster resembling an AHL team more than the team it started the season, but the Flyers seemed destined for a special season this year, and so Vigneault earned the nod here.

Jack Adams Award Voting

Final RankPlayerPointsFirst Place Votes

Jim Gregory G.M. of the Year Award

Awarded to the top NHL general manager

Joe Sakic | Colorado Avalanche

The award for General Manager of the Year was one of the most lopsided votes on the ballots this season, and for good reason—what the legendary Joe Sakic has done with the Colorado Avalanche has made this award a no-brainer for not just this site, but many other media outlets as well.

After a disastrous 48-point season from the Avalanche in the 2016-17 season, Sakic’s team immediately turned around: the Avs surged to a 95 point season the next year (losing to the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs) and followed that with two more seasons of 90 points or more—including 92 this season with 12 games remaining to play.

The fingerprints of Sakic are all over this roster— a top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog led the Avs’ high-powered offensive attack, and the trade of the disgruntled Matt Duchene led to a return of a great defensive prospect in Samuel Girard.  Speaking of defensive prospects, there’s also the case of this season’s likely Calder Award-winner and former Hobey Baker winner Cale Makar.

Player acquisitions are only part of the equation, however, as Sakic was deft in his handling of the salary cap (moves like moving Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot)—which allowed the Avalanche to have this dangerous roster but still retain cap space to make moves if necessary. I can’t believe they weren’t bigger players at the trade deadline—I was CERTAIN they were going to make a huge splash.  Add in the fact that the team makes great use of their analytics department, spearheaded by Arik Parnass (who spoke recently at the CBJHAC Analytics Conference in Columbus) and Dawson Springings, and you have a formula for success.

Not many teams can weather an all-time bad season like the Avalanche did in 2016-17 and immediately turn around and have sustained success, but thanks to GM Joe Sakic, the Avalanche did just that.

Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award Voting

Final RankPlayerPointsFirst Place Votes

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey

Oskar Lindblom | Philadelphia Flyers

Personally, it’s incredibly difficult to come up with anybody else that deserves this award more than Oskar Lindblom.  On December 13th of last year, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and would be out for the season.

The outpouring of support across the league was immediate and heartwarming, to say the least.  But I’m not sure that anything I can write truly does justice to Lindblom’s journey and impact, so I’d like to direct you to these two pieces written by our sister site Broad Street Hockey:

We are—and continue to be—#OskarStrong.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the player who exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability

Pekka Rinne | Nashville Predators

Look—anybody that tells you they can accurately predict who is going to win the Lady Byng each year is probably lying.  Sure, it usually goes to a forward with low penalty minutes who had a great season on the ice.  But this is an award that usually pretty arbitrary, so you know what?  I’m going to go ahead and say that I have no issue with us awarding this to Nashville’s own Pekka Rinne.  Despite a rough season, Pekka deserves more accolades, and if you have an issue with it, take it to comments.

Plus, if you think that this is a bad pick, remember: the Lady Byng is an award for “gentlemanly conduct”, and just last season, Patrick Kane received four second-place votes, so I’m fine with this.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy Voting

Final RankPlayerPointsFirst Place Votes

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Are some of these awards completely arbitrary anyway? Let us know!

How well did these awards match your own?

Very well - you all are very smart and extremely good-looking4
For the most part pretty good - I disagree here and there, but you’re mostly spot on8
Hey, you got one right - blind squirrel, etc8
Seriously - what are you guys even watching?0