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2022 NHL Awards Leaders at the Halfway Mark

NHL Awards

With the All-Star game next weekend, the NHL is right near the halfway mark of the 2021-22 season. This presents a great time to see where several of the high-profile award races stand thus far. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the main four-player awards. This is the Calder (Best Rookie), the Vezina (Best Goalie), the Norris (Best Defenseman) and the Hart (MVP). 

Calder Trophy: Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks)

NHL Awards

Courtesy of NHL

This race is going to be extremely close between Zegras and Lucas Raymond of the Detroit Red Wings. But with his play as of late, Zegras is making a significant case to surpass Raymond, who has been the favorite for a while. Zegras is currently in second for total points by a rookie with 32 and total goals by a rookie with 12. What’s been most impressive about Zegras is the highlight-reel plays he’s already making at just 20 years old. Of course, everyone remembers the flip from behind the net to Sonny Milano for a goal against the Sabres in December. He recently added another spectacular play by completing ‘The Michigan’ for a goal against the Canadiens. While Raymond and Zegras have both been revelations this hockey year, these highlight-reel moments may put Zegras over the top in Calder voting. 

Runner Up: Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings)

Vezina Trophy: Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers)

NHL Awards
Courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Vezina trophy race is neck and neck between Frederik Andersen and Igor Shesterkin. Midway through the season, Shesterkin has the advantage in this race. He trails Andersen in GAA (2.10 to Andersen’s 2.05), but holds several other statistical advantages. He’s second in overall save percentage (.936%) and has three shutouts to Andersen’s one. What’s really outstanding about this season for Shesterkin is his GSAA (goals saved above average). Per Hockey Reference, Shesterkin currently has a whopping 22.5 in that category. For reference of how outstanding that number is, Andersen’s number sits at 14.9. What all of these statistics point to is the level of importance Shesterkin’s play has had in the Rangers’ early success. He makes nearly every game winnable for the Rangers, and they’ve taken full advantage as shown by their electric first half. 

Runner Up: Frederik Andersen (Carolina Hurricanes)

Norris Trophy: Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)

NHL Awards
Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

The Norris Trophy presents another close race, with multiple valid contenders. But the defenseman making the strongest case for this award so far is Cale Makar. He currently leads all defensemen in goals with 18, which is 5 more than Roman Josi’s 13. He’s third in overall points by a defenseman (43), trailing only Victor Hedman (45) and last year’s winner in Adam Fox (47). But it’s worth noting that he’s played fewer games than both of the leaders and still only trails by single digits. He also has five game-winning goals for the Avalanche, which is already a career-high only halfway through the season.

And if you’re someone who likes plus-minus as a stat, he ranks top 10 in that category too with a 25 +/-. Makar is just making a positive impact at all ends of the ice for the Avalanche this season. He’s repeating the high level of play that made him the runner-up to last year’s Norris Trophy voting. Except he’s gotten even better, breaking several career highs in just 38 games played. With Fox leading in points, it seems to be a toss-up between the two of them yet again. But if Makar’s goal-scoring pace keeps up as is, it seems like he’ll be able to surpass the defenseman who beat him for the award last season. 

Runner Up: Adam Fox (New York Rangers)

Hart Trophy: Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)

NHL Awards
Courtesy of Katherine Frey/The Washington Post

It may be surprising to see Ovechkin’s name in the Hart Trophy discussion with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl around. But, as of this moment, there are several strong arguments to be made about this possibility. One is because of his third-place 29 goals in the first half. Yes, Draisaitl and Chris Kreider are both ahead of him with 31 apiece. The difference? Kreider and Draisaitl both have scored double-digit goals via the power play. Ovechkin just has 7 power play goals this season. This argument is not to make power-play goals seem like a bad thing, but it speaks volumes to Ovechkin’s talent that he can keep up in the goal-scoring race with less reliance on the man advantage.

He also is currently tied with Connor McDavid in overall points, and is just trailing Jonathan Huberdeau by four points. And most impressive of all is that he’s doing this in his age 36 season. A 36-year-old keeping up with players 10 years younger than him is certainly worth noting in this race. Not to mention that Ovechkin’s Capitals are firmly in the playoff mix, while McDavid and Draisaitl’s Oilers are in a bit of a tailspin. McDavid easily has the talent to outdo Ovechkin in the second half, but so far it seems like the grizzled veteran has a strong resumé for the Hart Trophy. 

Runner Up: Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)

Featured image courtesy of NHL

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