Two Colorado Avalanche players, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, are up for three of the remaining five NHL awards.
The Colorado Avalanche are finally getting some respect — some well-deserved respect. The team did very well in the regular season, and that caught attention. As a result, they’ve gotten the nod for NHL Awards.
In fact, an Avalanche player has already won an NHL award. Because of the pandemic, the NHL chose to announce some of their awards while the playoffs were taking place in the bubble. One of the awards was the Lady Byng Memorial Award. It goes to the player “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
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MacKinnon was en route to another career season when the NHL’s season went on pause in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though he couldn’t officially make his numbers, our superstar still played some of the best hockey in the NHL. As a result, he’s up for the Ted Lindsay Award.
The Ted Lindsay Award is for the NHL’s “most outstanding player in the regular season.” It’s notable because it’s awarded by the NHL Players’ Association. These are men who aren’t going to be influenced by flash or fancy stats — these are men who know the pain of having to line up against these players. Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers are also up for the Ted Lindsay Award.
MacKinnon is also a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy Award. We here in Avs Nation have our riot gear ready. That award has a history with us, and it’s still very fresh.
Two years ago, Nathan MacKinnon was a finalist for that very award. It was his 97-point season when he finally stepped into his superstar role. Here in Avs Nation, there was no one who questioned whether MacKinnon was our MVP — of course he was.
And he didn’t win. Instead, the award went to Taylor Hall, then of the New Jersey Devils. The general consensus was that MacKinnon didn’t win because his linemate, Mikko Rantanen, also had a career season of 87 points. MacKinnon got too much “help” from his linemate, then. Hall hadn’t had such help with then-rookie Nico Hischier 41 points behind him for second on the team.
Nathan MacKinnon finished this season with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists). The next closest player is rookie Cale Makar, who finished with 50 points. That’s a full 43 points fewer. And since Makar is a defenseman, it’s not like he was skating on a line with MacKinnon. Nathan didn’t have as much help this season.
The same two players who are up for the Ted Lindsay, Draisaitl and Panarin, are also up for the Hart. Panarin leads the team with 95 points, but he’s been well-supported by Mika Zibanejad and his 75 points.
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Draisaitl had a very impressive season of 110 points, which leads the team. But he’s been extremely well-supported by one of the very best players in the NHL, Connor McDavid, who put forth as many points as MacKinnon.
You see where I’m going here. If MacKinnon didn’t win the award two years ago because he had too much help, then he should be the only player qualified to win the Hart for MVP of his team this year.
Meanwhile, we have one more player up for an award. That man is rookie Cale Maker. He and his 50 points as a defenseman have made him a finalist for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Though Dominik Kubalik is also up for the award, the other main candidate is Quinn Hughes.
Acknowledged, Hughes, also a defenseman, recorded three more points than Makar. However, more of Makar’s points are goals (12 to Hughes’ 8). And he recorded those points in 11 fewer games, giving him a higher points-per-game total.
Hughes deserves the Calder Trophy. Period. No shade on Hughes, but it should be Makar.
The NHL will hold the 2020 Awards during a 30-minute TV show. The players, of course, will not be present. During the 30 minute show, they’ll reveal the above three awards as well as the James Norris Trophy (defenseman of the year — Makar will be up for that soon) and the Vezina for goalie of the year. The award show is at 4:30 PM MDT on September 21. NBCSN will air the show in the US, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will air it in Canada.