2021 NHL Awards Show Recap

Last night, NBCSN aired a special unveiling the 2021 winners of the five major NHL awards. For those who don’t know, those are the Calder Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Vezina Trophy, Norris Trophy, and the Hart Trophy. The other award winners had been announced before games during the second round of the NHL playoffs. You can find a full list of winners here, but without further ado, let’s dig into last night’s results.

Calder Trophy

The Calder Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s best rookie. It is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). This year’s winner was Kirill Kaprizov, who is a left wing for the Minnesota Wild. The other finalists were Alexander Nedeljkovic, a goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, and Jason Robertson, a left wing for the Dallas Stars.

All three finalists had great cases for the award. But, Kaprizov was the most deserving, so I’m glad he got it. He led his team and all league rookies in goals with 27 and points with 51. In the process of doing that, he broke the Wild rookie records for goals, points, and assists. He also became the first Wild rookie to go on a six-game point streak, five-game multi-point streak, and five-game goal streak.

`Kaprizov won the Calder by a landslide, receiving a whopping 99 out of 100 first-place votes. That’s the highest percentage of first-place votes for the Calder since Teemu Selanne of the Winnipeg Jets received all of them in 1992-93. He is the first player in the Wild’s history to win the Calder Trophy.

Ted Lindsay Award

The Ted Lindsay Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in the league as voted by the NHLPA. This year’s winner was Connor McDavid, a center for the Edmonton Oilers. The other finalists were Sidney Crosby, a center for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Auston Matthews, a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As good as Crosby and Matthews were this season, they still weren’t even close to being on McDavid’s level. We’re talking about a player who tallied 33 goals and 72 assists for 105 points in just 56 games here. He led the NHL in assists and points, only went pointless in 11 games, and had a whopping 33 multipoint games. There’s simply no topping that. No one deserved the award more than McDavid, and he rightfully got it. It would’ve been a disgrace had he not.

This is the third time in his career that McDavid has won this award. He previously won in 2017 and 2018. He is just the seventh player in NHL history to have won the award at least three times. This is also the second year in a row that an Oiler has won the Ted Lindsay, as Leon Draisaitl took home the award last season.

Vezina Trophy

The Vezina Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s best goaltender. The award is voted on by all 31 (soon to be 32) of the NHL’s general managers. This year’s winner was Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights. The other finalists were Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche. 

I know a lot of people think Vasilevskiy should’ve won, but I completely disagree. All three goaltenders up for the award had fantastic seasons, but Fleury was the most deserving of all of them. He combined with Robin Lehner to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, which goes to the goaltenders who allow the fewest goals over the course of the season. He went 26-10-0 and finished third in the NHL in wins and shutouts (which he had six of). He also finished third in the league among goalies who played at least 20 games in save percentage (0.928) and goals against average (1.98). 

On top of all this, out of the three goalies, Fleury was the most important to his team over the course of the season. Tampa and Colorado still would’ve been incredible with a different goalie behind them. But, Vegas relied on Fleury heavily as the team was decimated with injuries and had some rough stretches of play. The fact that he put up those numbers while carrying the team for stretches of the season is incredible, and he absolutely deserved to win the Vezina this season.

Somehow, this is the first time Fleury has won the Vezina over the course of his 17-season career. He is the first Golden Knight to win the award, which shouldn’t surprise anyone since they’ve only been around for four years.

Norris Trophy

The Norris Trophy is awarded annually to the league’s best all-around defenseman. It is voted on by members of the PHWA. This year’s winner was Adam Fox of the New York Rangers. The other finalists were Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.

Unlike most of the awards this season, Norris had two deserving finalists in Fox and Makar and one who had a terrible season and got the nomination because of his reputation in Hedman. As good as Makar was, I believe they got it right with Fox. He was second in points by defenseman with 47 and was second in the league in power play points among defensemen with 23. Fox also led the Rangers in plus/minus (19) and ice time (24:42 on average, which was more than three minutes ahead of the next Ranger) and power-play and shorthanded time on ice. In short, he was absolutely incredible for the Rangers this season despite flying under the radar a bit, and absolutely deserved to win the Norris this season.

This is Fox’s first Norris Trophy, and it was the first time he was a finalist, which is unsurprising given this was just his second NHL season. He is the fourth Ranger to win the Norris and the first to do so since Brian Leetch in 1997.

Hart Trophy

The Hart Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL’s MVP. It is voted on by the PHWA. This year’s winner was Connor McDavid, a center for the Edmonton Oilers. The other finalists were Nathan MacKinnon, a center for the Colorado Avalanche, and Auston Matthews, a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Much like the Ted Lindsay, there was no player more deserving of the Hart than McDavid. He was the best player in the league this season, and it wasn’t even remotely close. For more on why that is, see the section on the Ted Lindsay again. It’s all true for the Hart as well.

McDavid won the Hart unanimously this season, getting all 100 first-place votes. He is just the second player in the 97-year history of the award to do so, joining Wayne Gretzky, who did so in 1982, also with the Oilers. This is the second time McDavid has won the award, having previously done so in 2017. Like the Ted Lindsay, this is the second straight year an Oiler has won the award, as Leon Draisaitl won it last season.

Final Thoughts

Much to my surprise, all of these awards went to the correct players this season. I really thought Vasilevskiy and Hedman would win the Vezina and Norris (respectively) due to their reputations, but I’m extremely happy that I was wrong. Further, I’m surprised but happy that McDavid was the unanimous Hart Trophy winner. He absolutely deserved to be, but I really thought someone was going to galaxy brain themselves into thinking it should be someone else. The voters didn’t do great with some of the smaller awards this year (which prompted me to write this article last week), but at least they did well in the awards that matter the most. Hopefully, the same is true next year, and they do better on the others as well.

-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)

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