Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The NHL's best and worst of 2017

The year is over, so now seems like a good time to hand out some awards for the past 12 months of NHL action.

I mean, the year isn't over over. There's still four days to go. But the odds of anything really interesting happening in any four-day segment of the NHL regular season are minimal, so we feel safe in jumping the gun just a bit.

So today, it's over to Dave Lozo and Sean "Down Goes Brown" McIndoe, your two cranky uncles from the Biscuits hockey podcast. VICE Sports asked them to hand out some Best and Worst awards, and after taking the time to explain the concept of actually liking something to them, they agreed. Here's what they came up with.

(If anything happens over the next four days that would require a rewrite, please contact Dave.)

Most Valuable Player: Connor McDavid

This is a relatively easy one. You could make a case for Sidney Crosby, who got another ring. Maybe you argue for a non-forward like Erik Karlsson or Sergei Bobrovsky. Maybe you take a stand for a better-than-you-think case like Nikita Kucherov or even Brad Marchand.

You could make all of those cases. And we'd listen quietly, nod politely, and then give the award to McDavid anyway.

Do you think the "valuable" in most valuable player is just a fancy way of saying the best player in the league? Cool, then that's McDavid, who is still two years away from his prime and already does things that nobody else can do.

Or do you prefer the old-school definition, that measures a player's importance to his specific team? In that case it's even easier, because McDavid got the Oilers to the playoffs in his first full season. When he's not on the ice, Edmonton still often looks hopeless. But the Oilers are going to rebound from their terrible start and make the playoffs anyway, because McDavid will drag them there.


Least Valuable Player: Zac Rinaldo

Rinaldo spent all of the 2016-17 season in the AHL, then was demoted to the Arizona Coyotes over the offseason. The result: One goal, three points, one sucker punch, and (presumably) yet another big suspension.

Nobody's defending Rinaldo these days. (OK, fine, almost nobody). In fact, just about everyone is lining up to be the loudest voice tearing him apart. And it's well-deserved, because Rinaldo has more games worth of suspensions over his career than goals scored. He's the sort of player who used to have a role in the NHL, and increasingly doesn't anymore.

We'll see if there's still a place for him when he gets back from his latest suspension. We're going to have to wait a while.


Best Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

John Gibson (.930) and Sergei Bobrovsky (.926) are 1-2 in save percentage; Braden Holtby (47) has nine more wins than the next-closest goaltender and Cam Talbot's workload last season was a big reason why the Oilers won so many games, but Rinne's work in the regular season and postseason gives him the edge.

In the 2017 calendar year, he's fourth in wins (36) and save percentage (.922) and posted a .930 save percentage in the playoffs as the Predators came within two wins of a Stanley Cup. Rinne is in the mix for the Vezina Trophy this season, as he entered the holiday break 18-6-3 with a .923 save percentage.


>> Read the full post at Vice Sports

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