As the Washington Capitals focus on closing out a strong regular season, hockey followers are looking ahead to which awards the team could capture. It’s a natural phenomenon for observers – both media and fans alike – to forecast which of the team favorites could be the best of the best. The Caps have several candidates, including captain Alex Ovechkin, defenseman John Carlson, goalie Ilya Samsonov and coach Todd Reirden.
The majority of hockey’s awards (such as the Hart, Norris, Vezina, and Calder) are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, where others, such as the Maurice Richard and Art Ross, are automatically awarded based on regular-season statistics.
A breakdown of the awards each Capital could win:
Alex Ovechkin: Maurice Richard Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Hart Trophy
“The Great 8” has put up astronomical figures this season (40 goals in 58 games), adding to already a Hall of Fame statistics. He has an excellent chance of winning the Maurice Richard Trophy, which goes to the top regular-season goal-scorer. His stiffest competition is from Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Boston’s David Pastrnak, two players with 42 goals in 60 games. Ovi will also compete for the Ted Lindsay Award (MVP voted by players) and the Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player). That Ovechkin is still playing at such an incredible pace and with such passion at age 34 only adds to his legend and mystique.
John Carlson: James Norris Memorial Trophy
The 30-year-old Carlson, taken by the Capitals in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft, is the frontrunner to nab his first Norris Trophy, awarded to the game’s best defensemen. It’s easy to see why; the blue-liner leads all defensemen in assists (55) and points (70) by a wide margin as of February 18. Carlson also plays a consistent and steady defensive game despite being matched against opponents’ best players. Just as impressive is that Carlson has elevated his game on the heels of being named an alternate captain and signing a massive new contract (eight-year, $64 million). Clearly, the pressure has not gotten to Carlson.
Ilya Samsonov: Calder Memorial Trophy
Goalie Ilya Samsonov has had a brilliant first year that has him in the running for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The neophyte netminder has put up impressive numbers in his first season , numbers that are stellar for any goalie at any stage of his career – 2.38 goals against average and .917 save percentage through 23 games . A first-round pick by the Capitals in 2015, Samsonov has been so good that some fans have called for him to take over as number one goalie over veteran Braden Holtby. Samsonov will have stiff competition for the Calder Trophy from two young defensemen, Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche.
Todd Reirden: Jack Adams Award
Head coach Todd Reirden was under intense scrutiny after taking over from Barry Trotz following the 2018 Stanley Cup season. Still, Reirden steered the Capitals to a successful 104-point first-place finish during the 2019 regular season before falling short in the postseason to Carolina. This year, it’s clearly evident Reirden has command of the club and he should be in contention for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach. Carlson has had a breakout campaign under his tutelage, Ovechkin is having a monster season, and the team is collectively playing an air-tight system. Trotz won the Jack Adams last year as coach of the New York Islanders. Perhaps Reirden can follow his mentor by claiming the award this year. Keep an eye on John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins as competition to Reirden.
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