With the NHL regular season stretch run in full force, now’s a good time to look at the contenders for the leading NHL Awards – from the Hart Trophy given to the league’s Most Valuable Player to the Jack Adams for Coach Of The Year, there’s a ton of options on the board and value to be had.
Below are the best available NHL awards odds for each player at legal U.S. sportsbooks. Click to bet now.
The NHL’s MVP is a media voted-on award, and Connor McDavid is the favourite. Widely considered the best player in the league, McDavid is 2nd in the league in points and has more goals than Jonathan Huberdeau’s league leading pace, but more importantly, McDavid and teammate Leon Draisaitl are the only things working on a disastrous Oilers team around them.
Alex Ovechkin is here because of his fervent goal-scoring pace at his old age, but seventh in the league in points and fourth in the league in goals isn’t enough to get him there, especially on a Capitals team that is scuffling down the stretch.
Draisaitl won’t win because barring an injury to McDavid, you can’t give an MVP award to a player who isn’t the best on his team. If the Oilers don’t make the NHL playoffs neither one of them will get much credit, but even if they do, it’ll be hard to see any large number of voters putting Draisaitl over McDavid, killing his chances.
If the Oilers do miss the playoffs, the door opens to Huberdeau and Auston Matthews, both putting up incredible numbers on East playoff teams. If Huberdeau keeps up his league-leading point total and the Panthers are the Atlantic Division’s one seed, he could easily find votes. The Leafs recent struggles could preclude this, but in the same way, if the Leafs get above Florida and Tampa and Edmonton misses, the award is probably Matthews’ to lose.
The award for best goalie is in all reality a two-horse race, with Igor Shesterkin the favourite and Jacob Markstrom coming in hot on his heels. Markstrom leads the league with eight shutouts so far this season, but Shesterkin plays in New York and is posting a league-best .939 Save%, which would be the fourth best all time and the second best in the modern, post-2005 era.
The case for any of the others is hard to make – Jack Campbell has a sub-.900 save% since December. Vasilevskiy’s .922 and two shutouts are fine, but not Vezina-caliber numbers, and Jusse Soros is on that same tier on a team that’s on the playoff bubble.
Markstrom suffers from a lack of Calgary prestige – plainly, if he had the stats he had and was the one playing in Madison Square Garden, he wouldn’t be this big of an underdog. It’s probably Shesterkin’s to lose, but if the gap between his .939 and Markstrom’s .928 closes a bit more, Markstrom could easily win it.
Among NHL awards this year, Rookie Of The Year is one of the most contentious this year, with a top tier of three contenders stealing the spotlight. Detroit’s got a duo in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, with Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras also in the mix.
Zegras has been this season’s breakout star, between his insane lofted pass that Sonny Milano hit out of mid air and then his behind the net Michigan goal against the Canadiens, and he’s tied with Raymond in goals, assists and points.
Raymond does co-lead in rookie points, but he’s doing so on a non-playoff team and he lacks the kinds of star moments that Zegras has been bringing on a near-nightly basis this season.
Seider is a fine third-place vote, but with only five goals and not even being the best rookie on his own team, it’s hard to see how, barring a Raymond injury, he will be able to get many first place votes.
Amongst the others, Michael Bunting could be theoretically interesting with 17 goals, but playing on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Having played in parts of two seasons before this, he isn’t a “real” rookie, and other than a hat trick on Hockey Day In Canada, Bunting lacks the star power to win this award.
If the Ducks get a playoff spot, it’s going to be hard to argue against Zegras, especially if the statistical case is currently dead even and likely to remain essentially a wash. All three of Raymond, Zegras, and Seider have cases, but given the role Zegras has played in the NHL’s discourse this year, it seems likely writers torn will default to the guy with highlights.
Best defenseman is the most straight forward of the NHL awards this year, with Cole Makar likely to win. Roman Josi does lead the league in points from defenders, but Makar has four more goals than the Nashville stalwart and is on the likely President’s Cup champion.
Reigning Norris winner Adam Fox is close, but with worse offensive statistics than Makar and the fact that so many awards voters will likely reward Igor Shesterkin for the Rangers’ defensive successes, there isn’t a lane for Fox to repeat.
Victor Hedman could also make a run at the award, but with the Lightning taking a step back this season and Makar having better team numbers and better individual ones, it’s hard to argue for the Swede.
Rocket Richard Trophy
The award for the most goals scored appears less clear than it really is, with Matthews, Draisaitl, and Chris Kreider all within two goals of each other, with Alex Ovechkin four back of Draisaitl.
It’s hard to see how Kyle Connor or Alex DeBrincat could make a run from where they are with only 30 games left, and while Connor McDavid could increase his goal scoring pace, all that would likely do is take away from Draisaitl’s efforts while not actually making him competitive to win.
Matthews has played the least number of games of the leading three and has the lowest shooting%, making his numbers the most sustainable. Kreider especially is shooting above his normal rate, with 20.8% of his shots this year ending up as goals, as compared to 14.6% of them over his career.
Given Kreider is likely to see some regression from his hot shooting numbers and Alex Ovechkin is likely too old to find a new gear this deep to catch the leaders, it’s likely down to Draisaitl and Matthews. Assuming both play the rest of the way, it’s going to be tight, but with Matthews less likely to cool down from a shooting-luck perspective, the nod probably has to go to the Maple Leafs’ talisman.
Jack Adams Trophy
The race for coach of the year is the most wide open of all NHL awards, with any number of credible contenders who could win it this year.
Darryl Sutter is the favourite for taking a Flames team that couldn’t even make the top four in the Canadian division last year and putting them into first place in the Pacific, and is leading the biggest surprise in the Western Conference at this point.
Gerard Gallant is the other leading contender who has taken an upstart team further than expected, with his Rangers in contention in the Metropolitan, and in one of the bigger media markets in the league. That said, whether he will be given credit for having a goalie stand on his head is unclear.
Sullivan, Bednar, Brind’Amour and Cooper all have versions of the same case – their teams are elite and they have managed to coach elite talent into high places in the standings. Sullivan might have a slightly better case than the others given Pittsburgh’s early-season injuries, but all four of them are doing what was expected of them, and it’s hard to draw distinctions between them.
The other leading contender has to be Florida’s Andrew Brunette, who took over the Panthers after Joel Quenneville’s role in the Blackhawks sexual assault scandal came to light. Having to take over a team midseason, no matter how talented, and who spent an entire offseason preparing to play one style, is an added level of difficulty, and if the Panthers hold onto the top seed in the Atlantic, he’s very competitive in this NHL awards market.