NHL Season Awards Predictions by AP

NHL Season Awards Predictions by AP

Who will win the NHL’s top awards this season? Here are AP’s predictions.

Candidates for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP include Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and Toronto’s Auston Matthews.

MacKinnon has led the Avalanche to the playoffs, while Kucherov has contributed to half of the Lightning’s goals. McDavid helped the Oilers recover from a poor start, and Matthews set a near 30-year record with 69 goals in a season. Both McDavid and Kucherov joined an elite group, becoming the fourth and fifth players to achieve 100 assists in a season.

“These numbers haven’t been seen in a long time… It’s going to be a tight race, but you know who I support,” said Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman.

AP’s hockey writers predict the winners of these regular-season awards, set to be announced in June.

NHL Awards Predictions


  • Lage: MacKinnon. It’s time for the superstar to win the award. He has been in the top six five times and has surpassed his career highs in goals, assists, and points for one of the NHL’s top teams.
  • Wawrow: Matthews. There have only been 14 instances of a player scoring 70 goals in a season, the last being Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne with 76 each in 1992-93. Matthews’ proximity to this figure and his contribution to 23.1% of his team’s goals make him a standout candidate.
  • Whyno: Kucherov. While MacKinnon winning would be a significant accolade, Kucherov leads with 54 more points than the next closest teammate and has contributed to half of Tampa Bay’s 288 goals, the highest in the league.

NORRIS (Best Defenseman)

  • Lage: Quinn Hughes. Vancouver’s remarkable turnaround owes much to the 24-year-old. Hughes’ reliability and record-breaking goal tally have been key to the Canucks’ success.
  • Wawrow: Hughes. Although the Predators would likely miss the playoffs without Roman Josi, Hughes’ impact is critical to the Canucks not just making the playoffs but also winning the Pacific Division after missing out by 12 points last year.
  • Whyno: Roman Josi. Nashville’s impressive late-season run of 16-0-2 reflects Josi’s exceptional performance, averaging a point per game. Additionally, as the team’s captain, he leads all defensemen with 23 goals.

NHL Rookie and Defensive Standouts

CALDER (Top Rookie)

  • Lage: Connor Bedard. The number one overall draft pick, Connor Bedard, has lived up to the expectations, averaging about a point per game despite being heavily targeted by opponents while playing for Chicago, one of the league’s weakest teams.
  • Wawrow: Bedard. Standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 185 pounds, the 18-year-old forward silenced any doubts about him by leading all rookies in points, even after missing six weeks due to a broken jaw.
  • Whyno: Brock Faber. Although Bedard has not yet played in a significant game as the Blackhawks are far from being competitive, Faber played 25 minutes per game for Minnesota as the Wild pushed for a playoff spot. His 47 points and rank as sixth in average ice time among all players stand out.

SELKE (Best Defensive Forward)

  • Lage: Aleksander Barkov. The 2021 Selke Trophy winner, Barkov, has been among the top eight in Selke voting six times. The two-way player was a leader in plus-minus and averaged more than a point per game for Florida, playing in 73 out of 82 games.
  • Wawrow: Jordan Staal. Despite a spate of injuries among goaltenders, Staal’s defensive play helped Carolina rank among the top five NHL teams in goals against.
  • Whyno: Staal. The captain of the Hurricanes, who has not yet won the Selke Trophy, finds no better time than now to claim it. His pivotal role in anchoring Carolina’s defensive efforts is highlighted by winning 58.1% of his faceoffs, making him fifth-best in the league.

NHL Awards: Standout Players and Their Exceptional Seasons

VEZINA (Best Goalie)

  • Lage: Connor Hellebuyck. The 2020 winner has been outstanding this season. Hellebuyck surrendered only 2.39 goals per game, propelling Winnipeg to their first 100-point season since 2018 when the Jets reached the conference final for the first time in franchise history.
  • Wawrow: Hellebuyck. At 30 years old, the Michigan native is preferred over Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky for several reasons, including 36 starts in which he allowed two or fewer goals. Bobrovsky achieved this in 32 starts with the defensively strong Panthers.
  • Whyno: Hellebuyck. With a .921 save percentage, he leads the NHL among goalies with 30 or more starts, and his goals-against average is second only to Bobrovsky. Just give him the trophy.

JACK ADAMS (Best Coach)

  • Lage: Rick Tocchet. Taking the helm in Vancouver after Bruce Boudreau’s mid-season departure, Tocchet maximized the opportunity. The Canucks, initially seen as average, ended the season with their highest points tally in over a decade.
  • Wawrow: Tocchet. The 60-year-old demonstrated his potential by making the Arizona Coyotes competitive during his four years in Arizona. This success has continued in the Pacific Northwest, where he has optimized the performance of a talented but previously underachieving team.
  • Whyno: Spencer Carbery. Despite Washington’s minus-37 goal differential — the worst for any playoff team since 1991 when 16 of 21 teams qualified — Carbery led them to the postseason. He adeptly managed the team from beginning to end.

LADY BYNG (Sportsmanship)

  • Lage: Patrick Kane. At 35, the winger rejuvenated his career with Detroit after hip surgery. The three-time Cup champion and 2016 MVP maintained his friendly demeanor, although goalkeepers weren’t pleased with his continued quick hands and slick shooting.
  • Wawrow: Jaccob Slavin. The Hurricanes’ defenseman maintained minimal penalty minutes, logging nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game in a tough division.
  • Whyno: Slavin, who won this award in 2021, earns it again for his performance in challenging defensive matchups, incurring only four minor penalties over 81 games.
Hockey Expert
reviewed by: Jeremy Karamen (Hockey Expert)

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