When the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced its mid-season award winners ahead of last season’s all-star break, it gave us a peek into the potential winners of the end-of-season hardware. After all, the PHWA is the body that votes on several awards — the Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy, Selke Trophy and Calder Trophy, most notably – and thus the mid-season voting should give us valuable insight into which way voters are leaning ahead of the annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Last year, for example, the mid-season awards ended up awfully indicative of who would take home a few notable pieces of hardware. The PHWA’s mid-season Hart winner was Nikita Kucherov, and the Tampa Bay Lightning winger did, indeed, win the award. The mid-season winners of the Norris, Calder and Lady Byng Trophy all held fast come season’s end, as well, as the Calgary Flames’ Mark Giordano, Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov each won the respective awards. In addition, the mid-season voting on the Comeback Player of the Year, which is the Masterton Trophy dressed up another way, went to then New York Islanders netminder Robin Lehner, who wound up winning the Masterton at the annual awards show.
As it turned out, the only award on which PHWA voters have sway that didn’t go to the mid-season frontrunner was the Selke Trophy. The St. Louis Blues’ second-half surge vaulted Ryan O’Reilly to the top of the heap, sending mid-season favorite Patrice Bergeron tumbling to third place. Other awards that didn’t go to mid-season PHWA favorites – the Vezina Trophy and Jack Adams Award, for example – are voted on by other bodies; league GMs vote on the former, the broadcasters’ association on the latter.
With that in mind, as you peruse the following list of PHWA mid-season award winners, it should be noted that there stands to be some correlation between the list you see below and those who will eventually add the hardware to their respective trophy cases. We’ve also highlighted some snubs, who are either players who didn’t get their due or could sneak into the race and steal the accolade by the end of the campaign.
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
3. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
Frontrunners: Any surprises here? Not really. With the Oilers in a playoff position, McDavid is a clear-cut MVP candidate and that was reflected in The Hockey News’ mid-season awards when the Edmonton captain edged out MacKinnon for top spot. The only change from our mid-season awards, in fact, is that David Pastrnak has replaced Jack Eichel, who finished third in our voting. Pastrnak did, however, receive votes in our compiling of the mid-campaign award favorites, and it should go without saying that Boston’s sniper is in the running. He’s been immense for the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins.