With the midway point of the NHL season here, we decided to award the top NHL awards to players and coaches if the season were to end at the 41-game mark. Today we feature the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP and the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. Check back Wednesday when we reveal our selections for the Jack Adams and Norris tophies.
EB – Sid the Kid is by far the best player in the NHL right now. His ability to blend in and find open ice when needed mixed with his drive and determination, has been nothing but a success story this season. Currently the top point getter in the NHL with a good margin, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be the winner of the Hart Trophy this year.
Chris – When I think of the Hart Trophy, I think of the guy whose team would be nowhere near where they are without his efforts night in and night out. Love him or hate him, Sidney Crosby is that guy. With 32 goals on the season, Crosby accounts for nearly a quarter of all of the goals the Penguins have scored this year. He is one of the most lethal players in the NHL and he does so with little help on his wings. At least the Sedin twins have each other to pass the puck around. In terms of the player most valuable to his team, Sidney Crosby is that player.
Eddie- Right now at this point of the season, there’s no other player that has been most valuable to his team than Sidney Crosby. The way he led his team on the ice throughout his point streak and the Penguins long winning streak last month was pretty amazing to watch. Sure, he may be a pest to opposing players and fans. That’s what great players do. They find way to physically, mentally, and emotionally get into the heads of the opponent. But if he was on our hometown team we would love him just like the fans in Pittsburgh do.
Matt – I think it’s easy to say that Sidney Crosby is the player most valuable to his team so far this season. He already has 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points at the midway point of the season. Without a doubt, the Penguins would not be the same without Crosby leading the team. No other single player has made that big of an impact for their team this season, and that’s why Crosby gets the Hart.
EB – The San Jose Sharks are a deep roster team with veterans such as Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. It is a surprise to think though that the team’s top goal scorer is rookie Logan Couture. Couture has 27 points in 41 games played with 6 of them playing a pivotal player on the power-play. The second half is always the toughest with rookies, but expect Couture to continue his pace to reach the mid 50 point mark.
Chris – After winning the Stanley Cup last summer, the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to shed a lot of salary and a lot of key talent in order to become cap compliant and retain the services of their core group of skilled young stars. This also meant that Chicago didn’t have much money to spent on replacement parts, meaning that several rookies would get a shot with the big club. Bryan Bickell has been one such talent. Bickell currently sits 2nd overall in rookie scoring despite receiving less ice time on average per game than some of the other rookie scoring leaders. Bickell has 11 goals and 12 assists with a plus-8 rating and has been a steady contributor for the Blackhawks this year when they needed their young talent to step up to the plate and show that they belong in the NHL. Bickell has done just that this season.
Eddie- There are plenty of solid rookies in the league this year. It was hard to pick one specific player because how much a rookie produces depends on the team around him. You have the three rookies in Edmonton that are trying to revive a bad team. Those guys as a collection are solid and will be good for years to come, but don’t expect them to be a finalist unless one makes a surge in the second half. My Calder pick is someone I never heard of at the beginning of the season. He, like Jimmy Howard last season, stepped in goal for a good team and did nothing but make them better. Philadelphia’s Sergei Bobrovsky has a 15-6-3 record, with a 2.57 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He played so well for the Flyers, when Michael Leighton returned from injury, they chose the rookie over the goalie who led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals last season.
Matt– My Calder Trophy vote at the midway point of the season goes to Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. At only 18 years of age, the kid is making a pretty big impact for the Carolina Hurricanes. At times this season, he’s even seen playing time alongside Eric Staal. The fact is, while playing for a team that was projected to be mediocre this season, young Jeff Skinner is helping them battle for a playoff spot in the East.