Look & Laugh at My PHBA Ballot for 2013-14 NHL Awards

I gave these two Norris trophy votes. Giordano (left) got a few. Greene (right) did not. - Bruce Bennett

I was asked to take part in collective effort called the Professional Hockey Bloggers Association to vote for the major NHL Awards for the 2013-14 season. I reveal my ballot, my "homer" votes, thoughts on the winners, and some regrets at what I chose.

A few weeks ago, I got an email letting me know that I was invited to take part in the inaugural Professional Hockey Bloggers Association vote for NHL Awards. I didn't know such an organization actually exists, but I would fit the bill for three of those four words.  Anyway, the vote was for the major awards: the Hart, the Vezina, the Calder, the Adams, the Norris, the Selke, and the Lady Byng.  I realized it was due soon and so I hastily put a ballot together and sent it in.

Today, the full results are up at The Royal Half and I'm kind of regretting some of my choices.  On some awards, I was in line with most of my fellow bloggers.  On others, I clearly went off the board.  In total, I was responsible for most of the few votes that went to New Jersey Devils players.    It's time to look - and laugh - at my choices side-by-side with where they ranked in the voting along with the winners chosen by the others.

Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP)

Rk Hart - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Sidney Crosby 1st - 615 Sidney Crosby
2 Patrice Bergeon 6th - 71 Ryan Getzlaf
3 Anze Kopitar 14th - 19 Claude Giroux
4 Jaromir Jagr 26th - 3 Seymon Varlamov
5 Alexander Ovechkin 8th - 33 Tyler Seguin

Sidney Crosby was fantastic again, a big reason why the Penguins finished where they were.  Beyond him, my ballot didn't do so well.  Patrice Bergeron was the best two-way forward in the NHL and was supreme in possession. Anze Kopitar was right behind him in my opinion, so he came third.  I decided to throw in the first of three "homer" picks: Jaromir Jagr.  We named him MVP of the Devils and I really do think the Devils would have been much, much worse without his play in 2013-14.  Lastly, I threw a fifth place vote to the league's leading goal scorer for the same rationale: the Capitals would have been much, much worse if Ovechkin wasn't a goal scoring machine.  Of course, the crowd followed with Anaheim's second best forward, Claude Giroux, the hotness of Seymon Varlamov, and Dallas' second best forward.  Oh well.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  I would have made Jagr fifth and made Joe Pavelski fourth.  Sorry, your coach didn't know how to utilize you better, Ovechkin.

Lady Byng Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player)

Rk Byng - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Ryan O'Reilly 1st - 573 Ryan O'Reilly
2 Frans Neilsen 5th - 77 Tyler Seguin
3 Cam Fowler 30th - 6 Martin St. Louis
4 Nick Leddy 19th - 13 Marcus Johansson
5 Tyler Bozak 60th - 1 Frans Neilsen

Ryan O'Reilly played under 20 minutes a night for 80 games and took one minor penalty.  Deserved winner.  I favored the significant-playing-and-producing-player with few penalty minutes.  I gave some love to two defensemen: Cam Fowler and Nick Leddy.  They played a lot and in their position, they can be prone to fouls and such based on the run of play. That they were so disciplined impressed me.   Few agreed with me on that front.  At I least I wasn't totally alone like I was for Tyler Bozak.  I'm not sure how Martin St. Louis got so many votes given his public spat with Tampa Bay about a trade but whatever.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  I probably would have put in Seguin over Bozak and Marcus "4 PIM" Johansson over Fowler.

Vezina Trophy (Most Outstanding Goaltender)

Rk Vezina - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Tuukka Rask 1st - 552 Tuukka Rask
2 Carey Price 4th - 256 Seymon Varlamov
3 Seymon Varlamov 2nd - 402 Ben Bishop
4 Ben Bishop 3rd - 292 Carey Price
5 Jonathan Bernier 6th - 41 Sergei Bobrovsky

I did my ballot almost solely on the basis of even strength save percentage.  Tuukka Rask ruled the world in this regard.  The only exception was switching Ben Bishop and Jonathan Bernier.  I flip-flopped them on the basis of Bishop's stronger penalty kill save percentage.  I didn't deviate too much from the actual winners. Segei Bobrovsky was just on the outside based on my criteria so I don't think that's too bad.  I still would have favored Bernier given the relatively defenseless team he played behind all season.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  I would change nothing about this ballot.

Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)

Rk Selke - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Patrice Bergeon 1st - 576 Patrice Bergeon
2 Anze Kopitar 2nd - 373 Anze Kopitar
3 Jonathan Toews 3rd - 247 Jonathan Toews
4 Travis Zajac 23rd - 7 David Backes
5 Alexander Steen 6th - 29 David Krejci

I favored Bergeron over Kopitar on the basis of Bergeron receiving tougher zone starts than Kopitar and Toews while maintaining a supreme possession percentage.  The larger consensus agreed, though not necessarily for the same reason.  I made my second "homer" pick in giving a vote to Travis Zajac.  He's basically like Toews: great possession, plays significant tough minutes on a top defensive team at evens, significant minutes on a successful PK unit, and has to carry Jaromir Jagr and his idea of defense.  I wasn't alone, but only Hockee Night felt similarly.  I decided to give my fifth place vote for similar reasons to Alex Steen of St. Louis.  I can understand Zajac not making the final five. But Backes over Steen?  I don't know.  And Krejci?  Come on.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  Actually, I would change nothing about this ballot.  I'm keeping my homer pick for New Jersey's Toews.

Calder Trophy (Most Outstanding Rookie)

Rk Calder - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Nathan MacKinnon 1st - 628 Nathan MacKinnon
2 Ondrej Palat 2nd - 360 Ondrej Palat
3 Torey Krug 4th - 134 Tyler Johnson
4 Sean Monahan 12th - 14 Torey Krug
5 Seth Jones 11th - 22 Olli Maatta

It was the Nathan MacKinnon show among rookies.   Any doubts about him going #1 last season are surely erased. Ondrej Palat was also really impressive.  Torey Krug was given a more sheltered, attacking role and ran with it. Sean Monahan was quite productive on a crummy Calgary team.  I liked how Seth Jones was doing on a top pairing, so I gave him a fifth place vote.  Of course, looking back, I'm ashamed I forgot all about Tyler Johnson. Sorry, Tampa Bay fans.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  I would have included Tyler Johnson.  Probably in third, so move Krug, Monahan, and Jones down.

Norris Trophy (Most Outstanding Defenseman)

Rk Norris - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Drew Doughty 6th - 111 Duncan Keith
2 Erik Karlsson 5th - 124 Zdeno Chara
3 Marc-Edouard Vlasic 10th - 59 Shea Weber
4 Mark Giordano 7th - 108 Alex Pietrangelo
5 Andy Greene 23rd - 1 Erik Karlsson

Oh, man, did I whiff big on this one.  I honestly over-thought this one to not include Duncan Keith or Zdeno Chara. I thought better of guys who were better in possession and/or didn't get loads of offensive zone starts. Therefore, I favored Drew Doughty (2nd in CF%), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (3rd and with sub-50% zone starts), and gave a shoutout to Mark Giordano.  He had a remarkable +10.6% CF Rel%.   That's the best the NHL, better than Bergeron; Calgary could have used him all season but injuries denied that possibility.  Scored a lot, too. Again, if only he wasn't injured.   I gave a third "homer" pick to Andy Greene, the best defenseman on the stingiest team in the league.  His analytics were also good but I can understand being alone on that.  Anyway, I whiffed at the top.  I only matched the offensive and not-at-all-bad-defensively Erik Karlsson in the top five.  That said, I'm not sure how Shea Weber got so many votes for a guy who didn't finish in the top 50 in either CF% or CF% Rel.  Yes, he got plenty of defensive zone starts but so did others who actually finished above 50%.  Oh well.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now: I would've included Keith fourth, Giordano fifth, and then state here how Greene was my #6 or #7.  I still stand by Vlasic having an awesome season.

Adams Trophy (Most Outstanding Coach)

Rk Adams - JF Vote Finish PHBA Winners
1 Darryl Sutter 10th - 33 Patrick Roy
2 Joel Quenneville 13th - 14 Mike Babcock
3 Todd McLellan 11th - 29 Jon Cooper
4 Claude Julien 4th - 137 Claude Julien
5 Ken Hitchcock 8th - 49 Bruce Boudreau

Coaches are all about systems.  You know what measures systems well?  Possession.  So I picked the top five teams in score-adjusted 5-on-5 Fenwick%. In order: Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, Boston, and St. Louis.  Yes, Peter DeBoer would've been my #6 guy.  I would stand by it.  Clearly, others felt differently.  The larger group preferred strong, "unexpected" seasons; hence the love for Roy, Cooper, and Boudreau.  I know Boudreau can coach - and so do Caps fans - but the other two may find themselves in trouble if/when their goalies aren't super-good.

If I Knew Then What I Knew Now:  I like my way better by way of evidence.  I keep this ballot I made.

As a final thought, my three "homer" picks were among the few for Devils among the entire group.  Cory Schneider did get a fourth-place votes for the Vezina by  Hockee Night and a fifth-place vote by Days of Y'Orr.  I wish there was some other Devils getting some notice but I can't say I'm all that surprised.  So it goes with a team that missed the playoffs with it's standout players not having big point totals.

In any case, this is how I voted for the PHBA. I thank the organizers for including me and apologize for some of my more bizarre selections.   It was a good exercise.  Who would you have voted for if it were your decision?  Which ones did I screw up the worst on?  (Probably the Norris.)  Were my "homer" picks somewhat defensible? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the NHL Awards for 2013-14 in the comments.  Thank you for reading.

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