Ranking the Most Likely Montreal Canadiens to Win Awards This 2013-14 Season
Montreal Canadiens forward David Desharnais was named the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy this past week. However, despite being the Habs’ first official player to get nominated for an award this 2013-14 season, he’s arguably also the least likely to win.
Forget the fact that the award is handed to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey," according to NHL.com. And that, looking at his season so far, the only possible reason he would win is because he’s only now finally earning his contract after going his first 19 games with just one point.
Forget the fact that Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding won last year for coming back to play in the postseason after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Hell, you can even forget the fact that this year’s crop of nominees includes much more deserving candidates like:
- Forty-two-year-old Jaromir Jagr of the New Jersey Devils.
- New York Ranger Dominic Moore, who resumed his NHL career this season after taking a year off to cope with the tragic loss of his wife.
- Ottawa Senator Erik Karlsson, who has successfully come back from a torn Achilles tendon to once again lead all defensemen in scoring.
The simple truth is Desharnais simply won't win the Masterton, and some Habs just stand better chances at taking home some hardware. Here are the top five hypothetical award winners on the Montreal Canadiens for your reading pleasure:
5. Marc Bergevin: NHL General Manager of the Year Award
General manager Marc Bergevin’s trade-deadline acquisition of Thomas Vanek needs to at least earn him some consideration for executive of the year.
He sent a second-round pick in a by-all-accounts weak draft (2014) along with prospect Sebastien Collberg to the New York Islanders. He got back a fifth-rounder and Vanek, who has now scored 14 points (six goals) in 14 games and has not only solidified one of the NHL’s most dominant lines but also the Habs’ playoff spot.
It was arguably the best trade of the year.
Of course, he also signed the oft-injured Daniel Briere to an ill-advised two-year, $8 million contract, which almost completely negates all the brownie points the Vanek deal gives him. So, no, he won’t likely win the NHL General Manager of the Year Award, but credit must be given where it’s due.
He hit one—albeit just the one—out of the park this season.
More Realistic Candidate: Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay Lightning)
4. Tomas Plekanec: Frank J. Selke Trophy
Tied for the team lead in plus/minus (plus-12) with defenseman Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec is the Habs’ best bet to capture the Frank J. Selke Trophy this year as the league’s best defensive forward.
Granted, Boston Bruins forward and perennial Selke candidate Patrice Bergeron has been on the ice for three times the amount of net goals scored for his team (plus-36). And he’s not even leading the league (teammate David Krejci has a plus-37)!
However, Plekanec is nonetheless one of the league’s most criminally underrated forwards who gets it done at both ends of the ice.
He takes the No. 4 spot here because the jury is honestly still out on Bergevin’s managerial abilities. He might have just gotten lucky on the Vanek deal. Plekanec is too good night in and night out to be just lucky.
More Realistic Candidate: Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)
3. P.K. Subban: Norris Memorial Trophy
For the second straight season, P.K. Subban finds himself among the league leaders in points scored by a defenseman. As the winner of the award last year, he needs to be at least considered as a slight possibility—however unrealistic of one—at taking it home.
His 53 points rank fourth in the league among defensemen, and it’s important to note that scoring doesn’t mean everything. However, he’s a minus-three, and since the turn of the century, only Nicklas Lidstrom has been able to capture the award when posting a negative rating (2010-11).
Seeing as that was the only negative rating in Lidstrom’s career and he won the award three consecutive years in a row—twice—Subban is not even in the same league as the former Detroit Red Wings great.
That’s especially true when games like Friday’s 7-4 victory—during which his mistakes were instrumental in the Ottawa Senators’ first two goals—seem more and more commonplace.
That’s no matter how decent his underlying stats are, according to stats compiled by Habs Eyes on the Prize user razorsharp84 as of the end of March. Appearances, especially to the hockey writers who vote on the award, unfortunately mean a great deal here.
More Realistic Candidate: Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)
2. Carey Price: Vezina Trophy
Goaltender Carey Price may not be the front-runner, but his Vezina Trophy chances are actually pretty good, relatively speaking. In fact, he could realistically be one of the three final nominees for the trophy awarded to the league’s best goaltender.
In terms of goals-against average, Price may only be ranked 15th with 2.36. However, he is ranked eighth among goalies who have played 40 or more games. Under that same criterion, his save percentage (.926) is fourth best.
He also has the sixth-most wins (32) and is tied for the third-most shutouts (five).
The only goalie above him in all four categories is Boston Bruin Tuukka Rask, who has a 2.04 GAA, .930 save percentage, 34 wins and seven shutouts. Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning has the same amount of shutouts along with 37 wins, a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage.
This season, Price has established himself as an elite goalie at the very least. No, he may not be the single best goalie in the league, but there is a good case to be made that he is at least the third best.
More Realistic Candidate: Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins)
1. Carey Price: Hart Trophy
In many ways, Price is much more likely to win the Vezina this year than he is the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. After all, when you’re inevitably going up against the likes of, among others, Sidney Crosby, the league’s only 100-point scorer this season, the odds are stacked against you.
However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t better suited to take home Hart honors, especially taking into account the trophy’s official definition, according to NHL.com: “an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”
In 56 starts, Price has averaged 30.7 shots against. In 55 starts, Rask has averaged 28.47 shots against. In 61 starts, Bishop has averaged 28.31 shots against.
There’s an argument out there that seeks to invalidate the “player judged to be the most valuable to his team” aspect of the award and instead see it handed to just the best player out there. That argument is the following:
On a hypothetical team comprised of 22 beer-league players and one legitimate fourth-line enforcer, that enforcer would be far and away more valuable to that team than, let’s say, Crosby is to the Pittsburgh Penguins. But who in their right mind would award the trophy to a glorified boxer on skates?
What proponents of this argument fail to acknowledge about that hypothetical team made up of solely beer-league players? It would never make the playoffs one million times out of one million. The Habs have done just that, thanks in no small part to Price.
More Realistic Candidate: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins)