Boston Bruins

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 30: The NHL logo displayed behind a hockey net during intermission between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre on January 30, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The Calgary Flames defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

  • In my 12 years of doing this, I’ve been lucky enough to do just about everything I could have hoped for when starting out as an 18-year-old who didn’t know how to properly tie a tie. I’ve been able to cover three different Stanley Cup Finals, covered an NHL Draft (I chose to cover the 2013 all-seven-rounds-in-one-day draft, because I’m a sick, sick person), and even got to do a little radio (duh) and television. I still don’t know how to properly tie a tie, but that’s a topic for another day, and hopefully that day is never.

    But there was always one thing that eluded me: Voting for the NHL Awards. Well, the PHWA went full-on crazy this year and decided to give a vote to yours truly. I was beyond honored, and I spent many nights just straight-up agonizing over some of my selections.

    And in the interest of full transparency, here was my complete ballot for the 2021-22 NHL Awards…

  • Hart Trophy (most valuable player to his team)

    RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 30: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers looks on during the second period in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on May 30, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 30: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers looks on during the second period in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    1. Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers)

    When voting for the Hart Trophy, I feel it’s important to highlight that the award is for the player most valuable to his “team.” That, to me, made a first-place vote for the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin a no-brainer. Not exactly the world’s best five-on-five team, the Rangers thrived this year thanks to the otherworldly play of the 26-year-old netminder, with 36 wins and a .935 save percentage. That .935 save percentage is the third-best single-season save percentage in NHL history (minimum 50 games), trailing only 1998-99 Dominik Hasek (.937) and 2010-11 Tim Thomas (.938).

    Shesterkin also finished the year with 44.83 goals saved above average during all-situation play (according to NaturalStatTrick), which was a staggering 15.05 more than second-place Ilya Sorokin. That 44.83 GSAA was also the most by any netminder since Tim Thomas and his 45.69 in 2010-11. In fact, Thomas and Shesterkin are the only two goaltenders to post a 40-plus GSAA since it’s been tracked in 2007, with Thomas accomplishing the feat in 2008-09 (40.94) as well.

    Without Shesterkin, I’m not sure the Rangers are anything more than a team competing for a wild card spot.

    2. Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)

    The (mustachio) face of the Maple Leafs, Matthews has elevated himself to a ridiculous level as the game’s premier goal scorer. He reminds me of early-2010s Steven Stamkos in the sense that you hold your breath whenever the puck is on his stick. It was a 60-piece for Matthews in the goal department this past season (most by any player since Stamkos hit the 60-goal mark in 2011-12, and just five off from Alex Ovechkin’s post-lockout high set in 2007-08), and his 44 even-strength goals were tops in the league and the second-most by any player since 2000.

    3. Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild)

    Invoking the ‘team’ mindset with the voting here once again, the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov finished the 2021-22 campaign with 47 goals and 108 points. The next closest Wild scorer had 13 fewer goals and the player closest to Kaprizov in points trailed the electric Russian by 23 points. Kaprizov was Wild Hockey in 2021-22.

    4. Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)

    I’m pretty sure every other ballot is going to have McDavid in the top three, so I’ll likely catch some grief for this one. And I don’t wanna use the term “superstar fatigue” here because I don’t necessarily think it’s that, but McDavid is coming off a unanimous Hart Trophy win. Where do you go from there? Also using the ‘team’ aspect here, McDavid playing with fellow all-world, top-of-the-food-chain superstar Leon Drasaitl certainly helps both his numbers and the Oilers’ team as a whole.

    5. Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)

    Honestly, if there’s one switch I could make here, it probably involves bumping Johnny Gaudreau up to third or fourth. I mean, the man had 90 (90!) even-strength points this past season. That’s a mark that’s only been hit by eight players since 1983, and not hit since Jaromir Jagr recorded 95 even-strength points with the Penguins in 1995-96. (That list of eight, by the way, includes Gaudreau, Jagr, Mike Bossy, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Steve Yzerman. Nice list.)

  • Norris Trophy (top defenseman with greatest all-around ability)

    BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 21: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period of a game at the TD Garden on February 21, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 5-1. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 21: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period of a game at the TD Garden on February 21, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    1. Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

    Choosing between Cale Makar and the Preds’ Roman Josi was, by all means, a coin flip. But when push came to shove, I chose Makar because of his edge in the metric game, as well as the fact that I can’t remember the last time I saw a defenseman with the skill set of Makar. I mean, you gotta watch this guy whenever he is within 20 feet of the puck. He’ll turn nothing into something at the drop of a hat, and he’s a perfect fit for a Colorado team that’s been a machine all year long. (Worth noting, especially in this instance, that our votes are due before the start of the postseason, so this wasn’t based on Makar’s Avs battering Josi’s Predators around in a four-game sweep.)

    2. Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)

    Still, one hell of a year for Nashville’s Roman Josi. His 96 points were the most by any NHL defender since Ray Bourque’s 91 points during the 1993-94 season. Overall, it was just the 26th instance of a defenseman hitting the 90-point mark in a season. Some notable names on that list beyond Bourque and Josi: Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, and Denis Potvin.

    3. Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins)

    It’s a shame that Charlie McAvoy is existing in the age of the superhuman offensive defenseman, because the way the award is trending indicates that he’ll never have the offensive numbers to capture the eye of most voters. (I mean, I gotta be honest, there was no way for me to deny what Makar and Josi had done this year at the offensive end of the rink.) But if you’re a believer that defensive play should play a factor in this award, and I am, McAvoy checked every box as the do-it-all defenseman for a Boston defensive group that would have been straight-up lost without him this past season.

    4. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)

    Just a casual 20-goal, 85-point season for Tampa’s top defenseman. His 37 five-on-five points were third behind Josi and Makar, and what helped elevate him (not that he needs much given his career accomplishments) was seeing how he was still able to drive the Tampa bus throughout a long list of injuries and offseason departures.

    5. Adam Fox (New York Rangers)

    The reigning Norris Trophy winner, Fox put up 74 points this season.
  • Calder Trophy (most proficient in his first year of competition)

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 19: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena on October 19, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    DETROIT, MICHIGAN – OCTOBER 19: Moritz Seider #53 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Little Caesars Arena on October 19, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings)

    The Red Wings have their foundational piece with the 6-foot-4 Moritz Seider. Detroit’s top pick from the 2019 NHL Draft, Seider jumped into the NHL fire this past season, and put up seven goals and 50 points. He was also Detroit’s most-deployed skater (23:03 per night), and his minus-9 was third-best among Red Wing regulars on the backend, which might not sound like much but is certainly admirable given their 29th-ranked .887 save percentage as a team.

    Seider was also the closest thing Detroit had to a positive defenseman in terms of possession and on-ice shot differential, and only Tyler Bertuzzi had a better on-ice goal differential at five-on-five among Red Wing full-timers.

    I gotta admit, this guy basically had my Calder vote after five viewings. He’s that legit.

    Tanner Jeannot (Nashville Predators)

    If you’re like me and like a little nasty with your scoring, the Preds’ Tanner Jeannot was your guy. In addition to leading all rookies in goals (24), Jeannot led the entire league in fighting majors, with 14. That’s a nice blend, and for a Nashville squad that was in the driver’s seat for a top playoff spot up until the final weeks of the regular season. Jeannot also ranked second in the NHL in hits this past season, with 318. That made him the only player in the NHL this season to record at least 20 goals, 300 hits, and 10 fighting majors. Again, what a blend. And as a rookie.

    Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks)

    Anaheim forward Trevor Zegras feels like one of the faces of where this game is trending. And I mean that in a good way. An absolute wizard in terms of what he can do with the puck on his stick, the 21-year-old Zegras finished the year with 23 goals and 61 points in 75 games, which made him the league’s top rookie in terms of points-per-game, with 0.81 points per game. Zegras was also Anaheim’s fourth-most deployed forward by the year’s end.

    Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers)

    I’ve been high on the Panthers’ Anton Lundell really dating back to before Florida selected him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Finland native just reminded me a lot of Patrice Bergeron (his faceoff prowess at the international stage probably had a little bit to do with that), and I was always curious to see how it’d translate at this level. Pretty damn good, it turns out, as Lundell surged as a secondary threat on a loaded Florida squad, with 18 goals and 44 points for the Panthers this past season. Got a feeling this man is going to be an absolute problem once he masters the art of winning faceoffs at the NHL level.

    Alexandre Carrier (Nashville Predators)

    A 5-foot-11 defenseman, Carrier’s 20:59 of time on ice per night was tops among any rookie defenseman not named Moritz Seider in 2021-22, while his plus-26 rating was tops among all first-year defensemen. Carrier’s goals-for percentage was also the sixth-best among all NHL defensemen with at least 1,200 minutes of five-on-five play, and was better than names such as McAvoy, Slavin, and Weegar.

    Note: A notable omission on my ballot? The Leafs’ Michael Bunting. What Bunting did in 2021-22 was certainly noteworthy, as he led all rookies with 23 goals and 63 points. But, Bunting came to Toronto with 323 games of AHL experience since 2015, as well as 26 games of NHL experience from his time with Arizona. In my opinion, that’s stretching the true spirit of the award a little too much for me. Oh, and he was an Auston Matthews embed, and did absolutely nothing when separated from Toronto’s Hart Trophy contender.

  • Selke Trophy (forward with most skill in defensive component)

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 12: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in Game Six of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 12, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 12: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in Game Six of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 12, 2022. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

    1. Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins)

    Awarded to Patrice Bergeron earlier this month, Boston’s captain did indeed get my first-place vote this year. One of 30 centers to take at least 1,200 faceoffs this season, Bergeron’s 61.9 percent success rate at the dot was tops among that group (it was also the third-best of Bergeron’s career). The Boston top-line center also led the league in faceoff wins, with 991, and had a 91-win advantage over Ryan O’Reilly in the No. 2 spot. Bergeron also remained the Black and Gold’s go-to penalty-killer for a unit that finished with the league’s ninth-best percentage (81.3 percent).

    Bergeron also centered two of the league’s top lines in terms of scoring chances and goals-for, as the Black and Gold thrived (and were basically carried by No. 37) with Bergeron on the ice at any strength.

    Bergeron’s Selke win broke him out of a tie with Canadiens legend Bob Gainey for the most in NHL history.

    2. Joel Eriksson Ek (Minnesota Wild)

    This is the case for any vote that blows up in your face, but I was a little surprised to see that Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek didn’t get more love beyond my ballot. One of 190 forwards to play at least 900 minutes of five-on-five hockey in 2021-22, Eriksson Ek ranked seventh in high-danger chances for-percentage (61.76 percent). He was the only forward among the top 24 in that stat to have an offensive-zone faceoff percentage under 50 percent.

    3. Jordan Staal (Carolina Hurricanes)

    My third-place vote for Jordan Staal was definitely the most ‘feel’ out of all my votes. Just watching Staal, I felt that he was a massive, massive driving force of the Hurricanes’ success, especially in the two-way game. Staal’s performance against the Bergeron line in the first round of the 2022 playoffs certainly made me feel good about that vote. Staal also ranked fourth in the NHL in even-strength faceoff wins this past season, with 634.

    4. Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers)

    The defending Selke winner, Barkov’s shorthanded prowess (four shorthanded goals, second-most in the league) remained in play, and he was one of 17 NHLers to win at least 700 faceoffs in 2021-22. Barkov’s 57.0 faceoff percentage also ranked tied for the sixth-best percentage among centers with at least 1,200 battles at the dot.

    5. Ryan O’Reilly (St. Louis Blues)

    The St. Louis captain finished the season with second-most shorthanded faceoff wins (130).

    Note: This was definitely the hardest vote for me on the entire ballot. Also wanted to give love to Calgary’s Elias Lindholm, the Stars’ Roope Hintz, Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin, and even Brad Marchand.

  • Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with high standard of playing ability)

    VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 22: Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 22: Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on March 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    1. Kyle Connor (Winnipeg Jets)

    The Jets’ Kyle Connor, who won the Lady Byng Award when it was awarded about two weeks back, was an obvious first-place vote. The man was whistled for two penalties all season long! While scoring 80 points and averaging almost 22 minutes per night. That’s borderline unbelievable.

    2. Jesper Fast (Carolina Hurricanes)

    3. Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks)

    4. Josh Bailey (New York Islanders)

    5. Riley Sheahan (Seattle Kraken)

  • NHL All-Star Team: Center

    TORONTO, ON - MAY 14: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Play-offs at Scotiabank Arena on May 14, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – MAY 14: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Play-offs at Scotiabank Arena on May 14, 2022. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    1. Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)

    2. Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)

    3. J.T. Miller (Vancouver Canucks)

    Similar to how I leaned with the Hart Trophy, I put Auston Matthews’ goal-scoring dominance just a little ahead of McDavid’s all-around production on this one. And for me, J.T. Miller’s almost singlehandedly push for the Canucks from start to finish was something I couldn’t ignore for the No. 3 slot.

  • NHL All-Star Team: Left wing

    ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 08: Kirill Kaprizov #97 of the Minnesota Wild skates with the puck against the New York Rangers in the first period at Xcel Energy Center on March 8, 2022 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    ST PAUL, MN – MARCH 08: Kirill Kaprizov #97 of the Minnesota Wild skates with the puck against the New York Rangers in the first period at Xcel Energy Center on March 8, 2022 in St Paul, Minnesota. (David Berding/Getty Images)

    1. Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild)

    2. Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames)

    3. Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers)

    Had to leave off some strong, strong contenders for this one. Alex Ovechkin deserved some recognition, as did the Rangers’ Chris Kreider. But in the end, the production of the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau (30 goals and 115 points) as a top distributor for the league’s most prolific offense pushed him just ahead of those two.

  • NHL All-Star Team: Right wing

    EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rogers Place on October 16, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

    EDMONTON, AB – OCTOBER 16: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rogers Place on October 16, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

    1. Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames)

    2. Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs)

    3. Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche)

  • NHL All-Star Team: Defense

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 14: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators advances the puck at Bridgestone Arena on April 14, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Edmonton Oilers won 4-0. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – APRIL 14: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators advances the puck at Bridgestone Arena on April 14, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Donald Page/Getty Images)

    1. Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

    2. Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)

    3. Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins)

    4. Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)

    5. Adam Fox (New York Rangers)

    6. Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers)

    This is basically just my Norris Trophy ballot plus one. And that one, for me, was Aaron Ekblad.

  • NHL All-Star Team: Goalie

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers celebrates a 4-3 series winning overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 15: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers celebrates a 4-3 series winning overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    1. Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers)

    We’ve already been over Igor’s numbers and his value. If he was good enough for my first-place Hart Trophy vote, he was an automatic for my top spot on the NHL All-Star Team.

    2. Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders)

    In any other year, we’re probably talking about the Isles’ Ilya Sorokin cleaning up in the goaltending category. In what was his second year of NHL competition, the 26-year-old Sorokin captured 26 wins and a .926 save percentage in 52 games for New York in 2021-22. Sorokin also ranked second in goals saved above average (29.78), and his high-danger save percentage (.861) was right behind Shesterkin’s league-leading .873.

    3. Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators)

    A career-high 38 wins from the Preds’ Juuse Saros was certainly noteworthy, but it was also noticeable how many nights that the Finnish netminder had to straight-up steal a win for the Predators.

  • NHL All-Rookie Team: Forwards

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - APRIL 01: Trevor Zegras #46 of the Anaheim Ducks warms up before the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on April 01, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – APRIL 01: Trevor Zegras #46 of the Anaheim Ducks warms up before the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on April 01, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    1. Tanner Jeannot (Nashville Predators)

    2. Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks)

    3. Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers)

  • NHL All-Rookie Team: Defense

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 21: Alexandre Carrier #45 of the Nashville Predators controls the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Three of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 21, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MAY 21: Alexandre Carrier #45 of the Nashville Predators controls the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Three of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    1. Moritz Seider (Detroit Red Wings)

    2. Alexandre Carrier (Nashville Predators)

  • NHL All-Rookie Team: Goalie

    MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: Goaltender Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins looks at his helmet during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: Goaltender Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins looks at his helmet during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    1. Jeremy Swayman (Boston Bruins)

    Only one pick in net for the All-Rookie Team, and mine went to the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman. A late-season breakout star in the pandemic-delayed 2021 season, Swayman built off that with 23-14-3 record and .914 save percentage. Swayman’s best stretch came back in February, as he posted a 5-1-1 record with a .960 save percentage and a 1.13 goals against average, both of which were first among all goalies with at least five starts during the month. The NHL noticed that strong month, too, as they awarded Swayman the Rookie of the Months honors for that spell.