We’ve hit the halfway mark in the NHL season, which means it’s time for another round of NHL awards. These aren’t necessarily predictions of who’s going to win what at the end of the year. Rather, we’re looking at who’d be taking home the honors if the season ended right now.
Back in November, we did a first pass at these awards as teams were hitting the quarter-mark. But it’s fair to say that a lot has changed since then. We’ll include those awards here, if only as a reminder of how much things can shift in 20 games, and how much they’re likely to change again over the last half of the season.
We’ll start things off the same way most successful GMs do: With star players in the crease.
Hey, remember at the beginning of the season when scoring was way up and everyone got really excited and forgot that we're all supposed to pretend to like 3-1 games? That was a fun week or so. But ever since, the goalies are dominating again, just like they always do.
It won't last—the NHL's slightly smaller equipment should be arriving any year now, you guys—but in the meantime, it makes picking the best of the bunch a challenge.
But the winner right now is...: Devan Dubnyk.
The Wild goalie leads the league in save percentage and goals against average, and he's the main reason that the Wild have transformed from also-ran to somewhat surprising playoff lock. That might even earn him a Hart vote or two, but for now he'll be content with taking home our Halfway Vezina.
The NHL's youth movement has been one of the dominant stories of the year, and it's not slowing down. This has a chance to be one of the best rookie classes in a generation. And that means there are fan bases out there that are going to lose their minds when their kid doesn't even get a Calder finalist spot.
At the quarter mark: Patrik Laine took this one with relative ease; he was pushing for the league lead in goals and scoring at a 50-goal pace.
Names worth considering now: Laine, although his recent concussion could obviously have an impact on the rest of his season. Zach Werenski. Mitch Marner. Brandon Carlo. Matthew Tkachuk. Ivan Provorov. And let's not forget Matt Murray, who many fans (and maybe a few voters) don't seem to realize is still Calder-eligible.
But the winner right now is...: Auston Matthews.
After enduring a 13-game goal-scoring slump earlier in the year, Matthews has caught fire, making up almost all of Laine's lead in the scoring race while holding down a more important position and playing almost entirely with other rookies.
If Laine is healthy, it's still largely a tossup between the two top picks in the last year's draft. Unfortunately some Maple Leafs and Jets fans have decided to turn Matthews vs. Laine into a there-can-only-be-one showdown where trashing the other guy is more important than just appreciating the chance to see two elite rookies come into the league at once. We've got a decade or two of this to look forward to. Pace yourself, everyone.
But yeah, for right now, the edge goes to Matthews.