With the announcement that the country music capital of the U.S., the city of Nashville, will be hosting the 2023 NHL Awards on June 26th, there is plenty of time available for speculation. With the regular season soon to be underway, and the preseason coming to a close, it is never too early to predict this season’s award nominees and winners. This article will attempt to predict the Art Ross, Calder, Vezina, Rocket Richard, Hart, and Norris trophies.
Hart Memorial Trophy
Winner: Auston Matthews
Runner Up: Connor McDavid
It is only fair that we give the second most prestigious trophy given out to hockey players (second to Lord Stanley) the first prediction. Given out to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the regular season, this trophy is hard to predict without seeing the stats of the regular season. However, based on his trajectory, it is absolutely fair to put Auston Matthews as the runner-up, if not winner, of the Hart trophy once again. Not only is it expected that Matthews will reach a 60 goal season again, but there is even the possibility that he might even go past 70. While Connor McDavid will no doubt continue to be on top of his game, it will likely be a close race for the Hart this season.
Calder Memorial Trophy
Winner: Owen Power
Runner-Ups: Mason McTavish, Juraj Slafkovsky
Given to the Rookie of the Year, the Calder is a symbol of great beginnings of an NHL career. With so many fantastic rookies in the mix, it is hard to solidify a winner at this stage. But based on preseason performances and overall buzz around the player, it would be wrong not to consider Buffalo Sabres’ Owen Power as the Calder winner. The Sabres will give plenty of opportunity for Power to shine and show his true rookie potential, giving him the space to grow and show his talent. Second to Power, the Calder could only be given to Anaheim Ducks’ Mason McTavish who put on a fantastic performance as captain for Team Canada in the World Junior’s Championship, leading them to victory. While not heavily considered in the Calder conversation, first overall pick Juraj Slavkofsky will definitely make an impact in the Habs roster and can prove himself to be a Calder contender. All of these rookies will likely have fantastic breakout season, but yet again it is a very close race for this trophy.
Winner: Juuse Saros
Runner-Ups: Igor Shesterkin, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Matt Murray
Given to the top goaltender, the Vezina trophy will no doubt be heavily discussed leading up to the awards. With last year’s winner Igor Shesterkin from the New York Rangers likely putting on yet another fantastic performance this season, he will likely be a runner-up for the Vezina once again. On top of this, Andrei Vasilevskiy will also most definitely be a wall in the crease, leading him to be a certain runner-up. The Toronto Maple Leafs new starting goaltender Matt Murray will also have to prove himself in the crease, likely making a huge positive dent in the Vezina contention. However, a factor less considered in the Vezina race is one Finnish goaltender, Juuse Saros. With an overall .920 save percentage and the most wins of his career last season at 38, Saros is nearing his prime as a goaltender. This is his chance to shine his hardest and win the Vezina trophy.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
Winner: K’Andre Miller
Runner-Up: Cale Makar
Given to the top defenseman, it is no surprise why Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar won the Norris. With an outstanding performance, he will continue to prove himself within the league and as one of the best defensemen and players the NHL has ever seen. Makar will most likely win again if his health is up to par. However, an underrated pick for the Norris comes from the New York Rangers’ K’Andre Miller. Still only 22 years old and entering his third NHL season, Miller has a long way to go. But, his last season with the Rangers and his playoff performance was so outstanding it is difficult not to consider him for the Norris trophy. While the Norris will likely go to Makar once again, Miller should definitely stay within the future and current Norris Trophy conversation.
Art Ross Trophy
Winner: Auston Matthews
Runner-Up: Connor McDavid
Given to the top point scorer, it is only applicable to the winner or runner-ups of the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the NHL MVP most likely also holds the most points. Given, Auston Matthews’ performance and inevitable improvement, there is little doubt he will once again take home the Art Ross Trophy. However, that doesn’t mean that McDavid cannot hold his own and can easily be a part of the contention if Auston manages to fall behind.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
Winner: Auston Matthews
Runner-Ups: Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Alexander Ovechkin
Given to the top goal scorer, it will be a close race between Auston Matthews and other names throughout the league especially the Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid duo who can both pull through to be Rocket Richard contenders. Other players to consider are Alexander Ovechkin, who will most definitely climb up the ranks once again this season and can easily continue to post 50 or more goals. However, this will once again be a close race between Matthews, Draisaitl, and McDavid that will only be answered when the season comes to a close.
With these predictions out of the way, only time will tell if we are blessed with the gift of prophecy or not. With the usual suspects being a part of the Hart, Art Ross, and Rocket Richard trophy conversations, the most diversity possible lies within the rookies, defensemen, and the goaltenders.
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