NHL Awards: 2023 Hart Trophy nominees revealed, with Connor McDavid leading the pack
Oilers superstar Connor McDavid is looking like a unanimous choice for league MVP. Here are all the finalists for each of the NHL's major awards.
The NHL has now released the finalists for each of its major awards, culminating with Friday's reveal of the Hart Trophy nominees.
As a first-year member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, Yahoo Sports was not granted an official ballot this year, but that doesn't mean we can't get in on the fun.
Hart Trophy (MVP)
Nominees: Connor McDavid (Oilers), David Pastrnak (Bruins), Matthew Tkachuk (Panthers)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, Matthew Tkachuk, Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche), Leon Draisaitl (Oilers)
This one should be unanimous as McDavid recorded the best season of the new millennium, scoring 64 goals and 153 points. McDavid is the best player in the NHL by several tiers; he’s in a class alone and the only thing that has eluded him is greater team success. We’re now in the stage of his career where we can look toward McDavid fortifying his stellar legacy with a Stanley Cup.
There was no debate for first place, but Pastrnak’s 61-goal campaign on a Bruins squad that broke the single-season wins and points record would’ve won him the Hart in a world where McDavid doesn’t exist.
After a slow start to the season, Tkachuk turned into one of the three most dominant players in the world during the second half of the campaign and dragged the Panthers into the playoffs. It would be difficult to omit MacKinnon and Draisaitl from the top five based on their point production, although Nikita Kucherov, Mikko Rantanen and Jason Robertson were all considered here.
Vezina Trophy (Top goaltender)
Nominees: Connor Hellebuyck (Jets), Ilya Sorokin (Islanders), Linus Ullmark (Bruins)
Hellebuyck backstopped the Jets to a postseason berth for the fifth time in six seasons while putting up a .920 save % (4th among goalies with at least 30 games played) over a whopping 64 starts, which led the league.
Per NHL public relations, Hellebuyck posted a save % above .900 in 46 of his starts — also topping all NHL netminders. He ranked second in the NHL in total saves (1,807) and third in shots faced (1,964), with both figures the best among goalies on playoff teams.
Ullmark, meanwhile, backstopped arguably the greatest regular season in NHL history for the 65-win, 135-point Bruins (who ultimately fizzled out in the first round, but these are regular-season awards, of course) while posting the best save % in the NHL at .938 and leading the league in wins (tie-40) and goals-against average (1.89).
Ullmark became just the eighth goaltender in NHL history to top the league in all three major categories. Montreal’s Carey Price was the last to do so during his MVP season in 2014-15.
Sorokin posted an NHL-leading six shutouts over a career-high 62 appearances while posting a .924 save % — good for third-best among goalies with at least 30 appearances. On top of save %, the star Islanders netminder ranked high in several other major statistical categories, including games played (tie for third), goals-against average (sixth), saves (sixth) and wins (ninth).
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP as voted on by fellow players)
Nominees: Connor McDavid (Oilers), Erik Karlsson (Sharks), David Pastrnak (Bruins)
Though Pastrnak and Karlsson both had ridiculous seasons, this one looks like McDavid's to lose. It would be the Oilers superstar's fourth Ted Lindsay Award in seven seasons after he won his fifth career Art Ross this year along with the Rocket Richard Trophy, leading the NHL with 64 goals, 89 assists and 153 points while suiting up for all 82 regular-season games.
A win would make McDavid just the third ever NHLer to claim the award at least four times, with Wayne Gretzky (5) and Mario Lemieux (4) rounding out the exclusive list.
It's the first time both Pastrnak and Karlsson have been nominated for the award, which is voted on by fellow members of the NHLPA.
Norris Trophy (Top defenseman)
Nominees: Adam Fox (Rangers), Erik Karlsson (Sharks), Cale Makar (Avalanche)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Adam Fox, Erik Karlsson, Hampus Lindholm (Bruins), Cale Makar, Rasmus Dahlin (Sabres)
We have a larger breakdown of each major candidate’s season and a number of Canucks fans took umbrage with the idea that we didn’t place Quinn Hughes in the top-five. He was very, very good!
We haven’t truly defined what this award means and while Karlsson became the first blueliner to eclipse 100 points in a single year since Brian Leetch in 1991-92, he was also on the ice for a league-worst 96 goals against at 5-on-5.
Karlsson’s offensive exploits were incredible this year and he should be no lower than second, but in good conscience, he was not the NHL’s best defensive player this season. Fox is the best marriage of elite offense and defense, Lindholm was the NHL’s best defensive player, Makar had the best body of work in too small a sample, while Dahlin, Brent Burns, Jaccob Slavin, Hughes and a handful of others were just a tier below the top four.
Calder Trophy (Top rookie)
Nominees: Matty Beniers (Kraken), Owen Power (Sabres), Stuart Skinner (Oilers)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Matty Beniers, Owen Power, Matias Maccelli (Coyotes), Wyatt Johnston (Stars), Jake Sanderson (Senators)
Beniers should be the runaway favorite to win the Calder Trophy. He's been in pole position all year and led all freshmen with 24 goals and 57 points in 80 games. Seattle led the NHL in goals scored at 5-on-5 and Beniers’ immersion was a central reason why the Kraken punched a ticket to the playoffs in their sophomore season.
Power may end up being the best player from this class when it’s all said and done, while Maccelli, Johnston and Sanderson are going to be long-term pieces of their franchise’s foreseeable future. But this was a two-man race where Power couldn’t close the gap.
Selke Trophy (Top defensive forward)
Nominees: Patrice Bergeron (Bruins), Mitch Marner (Leafs), Nico Hischier (Devils)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Patrice Bergeron, Mitch Marner, Nico Hischier, Jordan Staal, Mikael Backlund
Bergeron is the gold standard for all two-way forwards and he may have posted his single-best all-around campaign of his career at 37, while the Bruins soared above the rest of the league in the regular season.
Among forwards with at least 800 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Bergeron was on the ice for an NHL-low 18 goals against at even strength this season despite having the 10th most defensive zone starts. He also had an NHL-best 61.1 faceoff percentage while taking the second-most draws and played a key role on the Bruins' league-best penalty kill.
This is Bergeron's 12th nomination for the award, which he has won an NHL-record five times with the sixth likely being added to his trophy case this summer.
Marner has been a two-way dynamo the entire year and led the NHL in takeaways at 5-on-5 and all situations, headlining Toronto’s penalty kill.
Hischier, Staal and Backlund have been three of the best players at suppressing chances in the NHL. Staal and Bergeron are both top 10 in expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5, Backlund ranks 28th, Hischier ranks 48th, while Marner ranks 112th, although that doesn’t take into account his penalty-killing excellence or quality of opponents faced.
Jack Adams Award (Coach of the year)
Nominees: Jim Montgomery (Bruins), Lindy Ruff (Devils), Dave Hakstol (Kraken)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Jim Montgomery, Lindy Ruff, Dave Hakstol
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Most sportsmanlike?)
Nominees: Jack Hughes (Devils), Anze Kopitar (Kings), Brayden Point (Lightning)
Yahoo Sports' ballot: Anze Kopitar, Jack Hughes, Brayden Point, Joe Pavelski (Stars), Aleksander Barkov (Panthers)
When are the NHL Awards?
The NHL Awards will take place Monday, June 26 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. It will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada, and TNT in the United States.