Sports Analysis: McDavid NHL's MVP front-runner in condensed season
COVID protocol-related absences: 04/27/21
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: Anaheim – Adam Henrique Calgary – Josh Leivo Montreal – TBA New Jersey – P.K.Anaheim – Adam Henrique
Using any metric, Connor McDavid’s 100-plus point season makes the Edmonton Oilers captain the clear frontrunner for the NHL MVP award.
Other than teammate Leon Draisaitl’s 81 points entering play Tuesday, no one else was within 30 points of McDavid in his bid to win a second Hart Trophy.
Determining the league’s other award finalists is far more challenging, given how difficult it is to judge one player’s production versus another when teams played division-only opponents over a condensed 56-game schedule.
“That’s the one thing that is really going to make it difficult because the fact is there’s been so many games in such a short amount of time,” NBC analyst Pierre McGuire said. “And what happens in the North (Division) may be a little bit different than what happens in the West or the Central or the East.”
Why Connor McDavid Needs to Hit 100 Points
We already know he's the most lethal offensive player in the world, but putting up a century mark before the playoffs would really serve notice. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports. Do it, Connor - do it. With six games left on the schedule, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers have already clinched a playoff spot and based on the standings in the North, they will almost assuredly finish second to Toronto, giving the Oilers home ice in the first round and a favorable match-up against either Winnipeg or Montreal.
Voters will have to rate players on a curve based on the unique divisional differences.
If the all-Canadian North could be considered one of the NHL’s weakest divisions based on separation between the top four and bottom three teams, the East and Central might have been the toughest. They were the only divisions to feature five teams with a positive goal-differential. The East also had the fewest points, 29, separating first and sixth-place teams.
“The East, that’s been a murderer’s row for most of the season,” McGuire said. “The North, it’s just been four teams for most of the season, and that’s why I think the numbers are inflated, because the bottom-end teams haven’t been very good.”
McGuire believes the toughest decisions will be between the Jack Adams (coach of the year) and Selke Trophy (top defensive forward).
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 6, 2021
Players in the protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Calgary – TBA (previously Josh Leivo)
Among the candidates making a case for coach of the year honors are Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour, Florida’s Joel Quenneville and Minnesota’s Dean Evason. As for Selke, McGuire wondered whether the award, predominantly issued to centers, might go to a winger for the first time since Dallas’ Jere Lehtinen won in 2003. The wingers deserving consideration include Boston’s Brad Marchand, Vegas’ Mark Stone and Florida’s Aleksander Barkov.
Associated Press hockey writers Larry Lage, John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno weigh in with their predictions with the postseason and awards season coming up fast:
HART TROPHY (MVP)
Lage: Connor McDavid, Edmonton: “The 24-year-old superstar will win the award for the second time after reaching 100 points in 53 games, becoming the first player to pull off that feat in a season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did it a quarter-century ago.”
Connor McDavid hits 'impressive' 100-point mark in Oilers' 53rd game
The Oilers captain made NHL history Saturday night."It's a number," McDavid said when he was sitting on 93 points; he had 96 Saturday morning. "If I get there, great. If not, it's not the end of the world, either. The most important thing is our team is gearing up for the playoffs and making sure we're firing on all cylinders in Game 1.
Wawrow: McDavid: “McDavid might have padded his numbers with 20 goals and 60 points against non-playoff teams, yet still had 13 goals and 42 points against playoff teams. No one in the North — or anyone else for that matter — came close.”
Whyno: McDavid: “It’s McDavid’s world. He’s the best player in hockey, and he had the best season. This could be unanimous.”
VEZINA TROPHY (top goalie)
Lage: Philipp Grubauer, Colorado: “In a tight race, he wins for helping the Avalanche enjoy their highest points percentage in 16 seasons with one of the NHL’s best goals-against average and heaviest workloads.”
Wawrow: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay: “Nearly went with Grubauer, but Vasilevskiy won three more games, has a better save percentage while playing 200-plus more minutes.”
Whyno: Vasilevskiy: “All he does is win, win, win. Vasilevskiy led the league in victories and also prevented more goals that would have been scored on an average netminder.”
Video: Jets' Wheeler records 4 points in shutout win over Canucks (cbc.ca)
NORRIS TROPHY (top defenseman)
A Jaw-Dropping Stat Pack to Celebrate Connor McDavid's Greatness
Don't hate on the short season or the North Division. Instead, soak in these incredible factoids on McDavid's 2020-21 campaign and his career to date. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Remember way back when Connor McDavid had 69 points in 42 games? That was before he ascended to another galaxy with 31 points in 11 games to reach the century mark at 100 points in just 53 games. Simply unbelievable.
Lage: Adam Fox, New York Rangers: “The 23-year-old New Yorker led the league’s defensemen in scoring when his season ended Saturday, providing a silver lining for a franchise that missed the playoffs for the third time in four years.”
Whyno: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay: “Hedman is the best defenseman in the world and showed it by winning playoff MVP honors during the Lightning’s 2020 Stanley Cup run. Adam Fox had a great year, and will win a Norris one day, but this is still Hedman’s time.”
Wawrow: Hedman: “Hedman continues proving he’s the game’s best all-around blue liner.”
CALDER CUP (top rookie)
Lage: Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild. “The 24-year-old Russian easily led NHL rookies in goals scored and had a cushion as the points leader going into the final week of the regular season.” .
Wawrow: Kaprizov: “Anyone capable of pushing the Wild into the NHL’s top-10 of scoring offenses for just the second time in more than a decade deserves credit.”
Whyno: Kaprizov: “Even grading Kaprizov on a curve at 24, and having years of pro experience from the KHL, he has been electric and a major reason the Wild made the playoffs. Dallas forward Jason Robertson a close second.”
SELKE TROPHY (top defensive forward)
Lage: Patrice Bergeron, Boston: “One of the all-time great two-way forwards led the league in faceoff percentage and was feisty as usual when backchecking. He has won the award four times, matching Hall of Famer Bob Gainey for the most in league history.”
'He's just unique': Connor McDavid's masterful season continues with playoff push
Few were the nights this hockey season when a highlight reel didn't include a jaw-dropping clip of Connor McDavid. The Edmonton Oilers' superstar centre set up teammates with stunning no-look passes. He stole pucks and sped through defenders, a haze of orange and blue. He sniped shot after shot past dazed goaltenders. Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice conceded that his squad has little chance of keeping McDavid off the scoresheet when they face the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs, starting Wednesday. "He’s that good," Maurice said. "You’re not stopping this guy completely.
Wawrow: Mark Stone, Vegas: “Stone plays in all situations and complements his offensive production with steadiness as a defender. The only thing missing are faceoff numbers. Shrug.”
Whyno: Bergeron: “Bergeron led the NHL in faceoff percentage and was among the top puck possession players in the league. He can still do it all at age 35.”
LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY (sportsmanship)
Lage: Auston Matthews, Toronto: “It’s time for him to win the award recognizing the combination of being a gentleman with skills after finishing second last year.”
Wawrow: Jaccob Slavin, Carolina: “Slavin deserved consideration last year, and he’s been just as gentlemanly and able this year.”
Whyno: Slavin: “It’s about time a defenseman wins this award. Slavin draws all the tough defensive assignments and never takes penalties. He has a total of 2 penalty minutes for putting the puck over the glass. That’s it.”
JACK ADAMS TROPHY (top coach)
Lage: Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina: “The third-year coach led the Hurricanes to their first division title since 2006, when they went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.”
Wawrow: Dean Evason, Minnesota: “The Wild were the one team not on everyone’s preseason radar as a playoff contender, and still have an outside shot of finishing second in the West.”
Whyno: Brind’Amour: “Brind’Amour has said coaching is ‘overrated,’ but his work has been underappreciated for some time now. With the Hurricanes atop the NHL, it’s time for Brind’Amour to get rewarded."
Whyno is a voting member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association this year.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
John Wawrow, The Associated Press
Rick Tocchet to interview for Blue Jackets HC role .
One of the most in-demand coaching candidates this offseason is Rick Tocchet, who has already been linked to the New York Rangers, Seattle Kraken, and Buffalo Sabres. Now the Columbus Blue Jackets have been added to the list of potential teams.The reason Tocchet quickly parted ways with the Coyotes at the end of the season was to start taking interviews and it appears as though his name is on the shortlist of almost every vacancy in the league. Of course, wherever he ends up, Tocchet will be looking to turn around his head coaching career after struggling to find any real success at each of his first two stops.