2014 NHL Awards: The Winners, Losers and Those That Didn't Deserve Votes

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2014 NHL Awards: The Winners, Losers and Those That Didn't Deserve Votes
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There's nothing quite like the pageantry and majesty of the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas. You simply can't find that mix of elite, well-dressed athletes, an elderly performer in Capri pants who may or may not have been rapping and an actress mispronouncing the name of an award finalist.

Yearly gong show aside, the voters did quite the nice job this year handing out the hardware. There's always room for debate, but there's nothing that stands out as egregiously wrong.

That doesn't mean there wasn't some dubious voting that requires a deeper examination. 

Here's a look at some of Tuesday night's major winners and the voting that accompanied it.

 

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Hart Trophy

Winner: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Runners-up: Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks; Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Analysis: A solid top-three with a deserving Crosby winning his second MVP award. But one voter felt Detroit's Gustav Nyquist was worthy of a second-place vote. Nyquist had 28 goals and 20 assists in 57 games, which means he played 69.5 percent of his team's games.

Last year, Crosby played in 75 percent of his team's games, had 56 points in 36 games and not even that was enough to win the Hart.

The reason for the renegade vote is likely because of a great seven-week stretch Nyquist had that included 23 goals in 28 games, one of which was scored on national television and featured him torching Norris Trophy finalist Zdeno Chara. That's impressive, but what isn't is the three goals in 22 games that preceded that hot streak.

Nyquist had a great 28-game stretch and nothing more. To say he is more valuable than Getzlaf, Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, Semyon Varlamov, Anze Kopitar or Tyler Seguin is to say you're not taking your vote very seriously.

 

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Norris Trophy

Winner: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Runners-up: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins; Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Analysis: The real travesty here is that Keith won despite not being deployed as a top-pairing defenseman on his own team—Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya actually went up against the top competition more than any Blackhawks defenseman, according to Extra Skater. Still, a case can be made for Keith over Chara, although you'd be wrong.

The real issue here is finding the people who believed Matt Niskanen of the Pittsburgh Penguins was either the second-, third-, fourth- or fifth-best defenseman in the NHL this season. Niskanen played three minutes fewer per game than teammates Kris Letang and Paul Martin and was behind Letang, Martin, Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik in terms of quality of competition.

Niskanen wasn't even top-10 in scoring among defensemen, finishing 13th with 10 goals and 46 points. Somehow, Niskanen tied for 10th in voting with the criminally underrated Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames.

 

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Vezina Trophy

Winner: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Runners-up: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche; Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

Analysis: This is an award decided by the NHL's general managers, one of whom believed that Steve Mason deserved a second-place vote. Perhaps this GM feels the Vezina is an ironic award.

Mason finished 21st in save percentage and 25th in goals-against average this season. In even-strength save percentage, perhaps the best indicator of a goaltender's ability, Mason finished 19th among goaltenders to make at least 40 starts. 

It's OK to believe Mason was fine or even good this season; to have a professional talent evaluator deem him the second-best goaltender in the NHL is off-putting and comical.

 

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General Manager of the Year

Winner: Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks

Runners-up: Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens, Dean Lombardi, Los Angeles Kings

Analysis: If you want to take up the battle that the GM who won the Stanley Cup finished behind a guy who runs a team the Kings beat in the second round, that's fair. Overall, the voting done by GMs, executives and media members is pretty darn good from top to bottom.

Well, maybe not the bottom.

Coming in 14th out of 14 GMs that received votes was Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers, the man whose team did so poorly this season that it finished 29th in the standings and will pick first after winning the draft lottery. The Panthers did improve from 30th in last year's standings, so maybe that's worth a third-place vote to some misguided soul.

Tallon did acquire Roberto Luongo for a sack of flour during the season, but his big moves over the previous summer were to add Mike Mottau, Jesse Winchester and Joey Crabb

 

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Winner: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Runners-up: Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Analysis: Bergeron deserved the award, no doubt about it. But there's something seriously wrong when Bergeron and Kopitar were so evenly matched in this area, yet Bergeron received 112 first-place votes while Kopitar only received 20 first-place votes.

The cry from people who hate math is "Watch the games," yet a delicious cocktail of watching games and looking at numbers may have made this a closer vote.

Via Extra Skater's comparison tool, Bergeron clearly had a harder road than Kopitar. Bergeron was handed more defensive zone starts than Kopitar yet had a slightly better Corsi number. Bergeron killed more penalties and had a much better Corsi-relative number, although Kopitar's quality of competition was a tick more difficult.

Throw in the fact that Bergeron makes his bread in the weaker Eastern Conference while Kopitar had to battle the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Jonathan Toews in the superior Western Conference on a regular basis, and it makes you wonder if voters are watching the games or doing the math. 

It's fine that Bergeron won, but the landslide makes you wonder if people on the East Coast are staying up late enough to watch the West.

 

Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.

All statistics via NHL.com or Extra Skater.

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