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The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the player who finishes the regular season with the most points. The award honors former player, general manager, and head coach Art Ross. It has been awarded to 29 different players over the course of its 70-year existence. Last year’s Art Ross winner was Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov who finished the regular season with 128 points.
Favorites to win the Art Ross Trophy 2019: Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Patrick Kane, Nathan MacKinnon, and Sidney Crosby.
Last season, Connor McDavid, 22, along with teammates Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, combined for 119 goals – more than fifty percent of the Edmonton Oilers total goal output. McDavid finished the 2018-19 season with an astounding 116 points. Truly astounding considering the team he was on and what he had to work with. Last year’s winner, Nikita Kucherov, had only 12 points more than McDavid yet had players such as Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, J.T. Miller, Ondrej Palat, et al to work with. One could argue that McDavid truly had the more impressive offensive season.
The hiccup here is if McDavid will start the season healthy. McDavid underwent offseason knee surgery and only recently made his preseason debut in which many commented on him looking slow and rusty. But if his knee troubles are behind him and he uses the rest of the preseason to loosen up, then it would be no surprise to see Connor McDavid lead the league in points once again and earn his second Art Ross trophy.
As mentioned previously, Nikita Kucherov, 26, was the offensive leader on an absolutely stacked team – and he took full advantage of that. Kucherov finished the 2018-19 season with 41 goals, 87 assists, and a total of 128 points, earning him his first Art Ross Award. Considering the confidence a season like that would build in a player combined with the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning made few drastic roster changes, it would be a shock if Kucherov didn’t, at the very least, finish in the top-five point leaders. But one could also argue that the pressure of repeating such a performance could be his undoing. In that regard, McDavid has proven his ability to play through adversity, pressure, expectation, and mentally tough situations.
Patrick Kane, 30, finds himself in a similar situation as Connor McDavid – a pure natural offensive ability that translates into consistent individual efforts despite what he has around him. The right-winger finished last season with 44 goals, 66 assists, and a total of 110 points. It was the second 100-point season of his career. Kane’s struggles in the recent past have mostly come from who his linemates were. But, after last season when he was reunited with Jonathan Toews, fans should expect Kane to stay on his upward trajectory. After many juggled lines, Kane and Toews were reunited and both reached career-high numbers. It’s a no-brainer that they will start the 2019-20 campaign as linemates once again. Patrick Kane is a former Art Ross recipient, having won the award in 2016 – the year he first hit 100 points in a season.
It’s easy yet difficult to understand why Nathan MacKinnon, 24, is only ranked as the fourth favorite to lead the league in points. It’s easy considering the caliber of players that rank above him but it’s hard to fathom when one realizes the players that MacKinnon has to work with. Last season, MacKinnon lined with Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog and the three combined for 261 points last season. MacKinnon, personally, finished with 41 goals, 58 assists, and just shy of 100 points with 99. MacKinnon’s line is expected to remain intact heading into next season and another year of developed chemistry together could see the point totals of all three players increase.
Sidney Crosby can never be left out of the conversation when it comes to leading the league in points. The now 32-year-old Crosby finished the 2018-19 season with 35 goals, 65 assists, and an even 100 points. He’s also won the Art Ross trophy not once, but twice before – once in 2007 and another in 2014. When Crosby is healthy, there is no limit to his potential. It also doesn’t hurt to have another star forward on his wing in Evgeni Malkin. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Crosby himself could see some powerplay production go down with the loss of Phil Kessel this offseason, but Crosby will still see productive ice time this season with players such as Jake Guentzel, Nick Bjugstad, and the newly acquired Alex Galchenyuk.
The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy is awarded to the player who finishes the regular season with the most goals scored. Named after Hall of Famer Maurice Richard, the trophy came into existence after the 1998-99 season. Last season’s winner was Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin who finished the 2018-19 campaign with 51 goals.
Here are the favorites to win the “Rocket” Richard Trophy 2019: Alexander Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov, and John Tavares.
The 2018-19 season culminated with Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin leading the league with 51 goals and earning him his eighth “Rocket” Richard trophy (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019). At 34-years-old, the Russain-born superstar doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down and many believe him to be capable of surpassing Wayne Gretzky’s all-time career goal total of 894. Ovechkin currently sits at 658 goals. One of Ovechkin’s biggest strengths throughout his entire career has been his ability to stay healthy and should the iron man play another full 82 game season with teammates such as Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Evgeni Kuznetsov, it would be no surprise to see him earn his tenth “Rocket” Award at season’s end.
As mentioned earlier, Connor McDavid was one-third of the Edmonton Oilers line that scored more than 50 percent of the team’s goals last season. In the 78 games that McDavid played last season, he netted 41 goals; 31 of which were at even strength and nine of them game-winners. His shooting percentage last year sat at an incredible 17.1 percent – the highest it’s ever been in his career to date. McDavid is absolutely capable of winning multiple pieces of hardware this upcoming season.
If it weren’t for the fact that Alexander Ovechkin has the track record of already having won eight “Rocket” Richard trophies, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs would probably rank higher here. In fact, many pundits are pegging him to become only the third player in the last 24 years to break the 60-goal barrier. Steven Stamkos and Alexander Ovechkin are the only two players to do so in the modern era NHL. But, with John Tavares as a linemate and the Mitch Marner drama behind them, Matthews is poised to enter this season stronger and more capable than ever. Matthews was limited to only 68 games last season and still managed to put 37 pucks in the net.
Last year’s Art Ross, Ted Lindsay, and Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov finished last season with a career-high of 41 goals. It’s not hard to put pucks in the net when you play for the powerhouse team that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, this is the surprising pick within the top-five contenders as Kucherov’s point total last season was mostly due to his 87 assists. Kucherov is most definitely going to once again be in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy this season but the odds of him winning a scoring title seem a little too high.
Auston Matthews’ linemate also makes a strong case as a “Rocket” Richard contender and rounds out the top-five odds-on favorites to win it. In his first season with the team, Tavares put up 47 goals, surpassing his previous career-high by nine goals. He had a shooting percentage last season of 16.4 percent. With a full season in Toronto now under his belt, we can only imagine that the chemistry with the team will be even stronger and the plays will be even smoother this season. It’s tough to choose between Tavares and Matthews but they are a duo that should give McDavid and Leon Draisaitl a run for their money.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is presented each year to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the regular season as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Created in honor of longtime head coach Cecil Hart in 1923, 56 players have won the award over the past 92 years. Last season’s Hart Trophy winner was Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.
Here are the favorites to win the Hart Memorial Trophy 2019: Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, and Sidney Crosby.
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Had the Edmonton Oilers made the playoffs last season, there would have been no denying the Hart Trophy to Connor McDavid. The captain of the Oilers team managed to pull off a season in which he alone contributed 41 goals, 75 assists, and therefore 116 points. He also managed to be a plus-3 on the season. He had nine game-winning goals, nine power-play goals, and took 240 shots – good enough for a 17.1 shooting percentage. Alas, the team still managed to make the playoffs. McDavid has proven that he is a franchise player and is capable of putting a team on his back, but it’s safe to say that if the team can’t make the playoffs then this award should elude him next season.
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The odds of Nikita Kucherov having another stellar season are high but he has so many other top-tier players working around him that it would be hard to name just one member of the Tampa Bay Lightning as the most valuable player. Although he is the defending Hart Trophy winner, it would be difficult to see him winning it again this season simply because of the size of the talent pool that is on the Tampa bay Lightning. Winning the scoring title back-to-back is within his reach but it’s the team play, not the individual effort, that will get him there.
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This is our personal favorite. Former Connor McDavid teammate and current New Jersey Devil Taylor Hall is due for a major bounce-back season after missing the second half of 2018-19 due to injury. New Jersey is poised to be one of the most exciting teams next season and Hall is returning to a lineup not only completely healthy but to a lineup that now boasts the likes of Wayne Simmonds, P.K. Simmonds, and first-overall pick Jack Hughes. Hall has the skill to be considered elite as he still managed to put up 37 points in only 33 games last season. The year prior, he hit a career-high 39 goals in 76 games with not much other talents to play with. Should Taylor Hall stay healthy this season, expect his numbers to skyrocket.
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Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon finds himself in a similar spot as Nikita Kucherov on this list. Although there is no doubt about his all-star status, MacKinnon plays with too many other talented players to be considered the most valuable on the team. Last season, MacKinnon put up 41 goals and 99 points but he did so playing with the likes of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Add to that the offseason acquisitions of Nazem Kadri and Andrei Burakovsky, and the Colorado Avalanche will find themselves as a more well-rounded team without the need of a franchise face. That’s a great feeling for an NHL team and that’s why MacKinnon, or any member of the Colorado roster, winning an award for individual feats seems unlikely.
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The captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins and two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby can never be left out of this conversation. Like McDavid, Crosby has proven himself capable of carrying a team. With some of the teams’ offseason losses such as the loss of Phil Kessel, Crosby may find himself stepping up in big ways next season. Crosby had another stellar season last year, netting 35 goals and 100 points. He has single-handedly won games for the Penguins even during their times of struggle. As long as Crosby stays healthy, he’ll always be in the mix for any and all offensive awards.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded each year to the defensive player deemed the most all-around efficient at his position. Named after the longtime Detroit Red Wings owner James E. Norris, the trophy entered the NHL in 1954 and has been awarded 61 times to 26 different players. Last year saw Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano take home the award.
Here are the favorites to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy 2019: Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, and Erik Karlsson.
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San Jose Sharks all-star Brent Burns is one of two of this year’s favorites to take home the award for the league’s top defenseman. Burns has been on the hunt for his second Norris Trophy ever since he won his first for his 2016-17 campaign. Last season, which was his first full season pairing up with another Norris favorite in Erik Karlsson, saw Burn reach career highs in assists (67) and points (83). He also finished last season as a plus-13, had 88 takeaways, 90 hits, and 105 blocked shots. He also added 16 more points in the playoffs. Burns heads into the 2019-20 season as the heavy favorite to win.
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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is another former Norris Trophy winner, having won the award for the first time after the 2017-18 season. Last season, although limited to just 70 games, Hedman still managed to put up strong numbers that included 42 assists and 54 points. He also finished the year with an incredible plus-24 rating. He had 97 blocked shots, 59 hits, and 32 takeaways and finished the year third in Norris voting. Hedman has a chance this season, should he stay healthy, to reach new career highs in all statistics as the Tampa Bay Lightning once again find themselves at the top of the food chain and Hedman could see more offensive output stem from the defensive acquisition of veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk this offseason.
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Another former Norris winner (a two-time winner, in fact) and teammate of Brent Burns, defenseman Erik Karlsson rounds out the top-three favorites to take the award home this season. Injuries greatly affected Karlsson’s first season with the Sharks, restricting him to only 53 games played last season. However, that didn’t stop him from still registering 45 points with 69 blocks, 44 hits, and 59 takeaways. He also had 377 shot attempts which is just baffling. It was reported that Karlsson had successful groin surgery during the offseason and signed a new eight-year deal with the Sharks. The injury news is the only reason we believe Karlsson isn’t the favorite this year and should he make it to the midway point of the season without being injured, expect him to move into the first-place spot as the odds-on favorite.
Honorable Mentions: John Carlson, Washington Capitals, John Klingberg, Dallas Stars.
The Vezina Trophy is awarded each year to the goaltender who is judged to be the best at his position for that season. First introduced in 1926, the award named after former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Georges Vezina is given to the top goalie as voted on by the league’s 31 general managers. Last season saw Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy take home the award.
Here are the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy 2019: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ben Bishop, and Frederik Andersen.
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It’s hard to argue Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy as the favorite in this category. Vasilevskiy didn’t hit double-digit losses until the last month of the season last year, finishing with a record of 39-10-4 and the earning his first Vezina award. There is little evidence to suggest that Vasilevskiy couldn’t win the award in back-to-back years. Barring an injury, Vasilevskiy has the skill, another year of experience behind him, and much of the same strong team in front of him to take home the award once again as the league’s top goaltender. In fact, Tampa’s defense arguably got even stronger during the offseason.
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Close on the heels of Vasilevskiy last season was Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop – and he could be close on his heels yet again. Bishop definitely played more of an individual role for his team last season, putting up incredible performances where he would steal a game for his team virtually on his own. Although his record of 27-25-2 wasn’t as impressive as Vasilevskiy’s, his goals-against average of just 1.98 for the regular season is what stood out. He also had a save percentage of .934 and seven shutouts – all numbers that surpassed Vasilevskiy’s. Bishop also has the luxury of playing with a stronger defensive core than he had last season, where he finished second in the Vezina voting.
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It’s been years since a Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender has been in the discussion as a potential Vezina contender. Leafs’ goaltender Frederik Andersen finished last season with a 36-16-7 record, a 2.77 GAA and a .917 save percentage. What’s working against Andersen in this regard is that unlike Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy’s teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs arguably got weaker on the backend this offseason, namely with the loss of Jake Gardiner on the blue line.
Honorable Mentions: John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks, Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers.
The Calder Memorial Trophy is handed out annually to the player deemed to have been most efficient throughout his inaugural season in the NHL. Named after Frank Calder, the very first president of the NHL, the winner of this “rookie of the year” award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association. Last year’s winner was the Vancouver Canucks’, Elias Petterson.
Favorites to win the Calder Memorial Trophy 2019 are Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Cale Makar.
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There is little to no shock about this one. Jack Hughes, the first-overall pick for the New Jersey Devils, ranks as the technical favorite to win the rookie of the year award. Drafted to one of the most exciting New Jersey rosters in years, Hughes is likely to crack the top-six of the team’s offensive core and could even see playing time with the likes of Taylor Hall. Hughes scored twice in his preseason debut and had four points in his first three games. If that’s any indication of how his regular season will go, hold on to your seats.
Check out our previous coverage on Unibet and New Jersey Devils Agree on Multi-Year Partnership.
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Right behind Hughes will be the New York Rangers’ second-overall pick Kaapo Kakko. The larger of the two top rookies, Kakko may see more ice time than Hughes to start the season. The Rangers, like the Devils, also made key roster changes this offseason that could see Kakko get ice time with the likes of all-star, and former Calder winner himself, Artemi Panarin. The battle between Kakko and Hughes could be more clear cut as some may think as well as they will go head-to-head four times this season as they compete within the same division.
If you are interested in New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, check out “Top 4 NHL Division Rivalries to Watch in 2020“.
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But not far from the first and second-overall picks is the fourth-overall pick from last years entry draft: Cale Makar. Although as a defenseman, Makar isn’t expected to pot as many goals as the other two contenders, Makar brings speed to the table and a great hockey sense that could see him contribute more to his team and receive more ice time that Hughes or Kakko. Makar also has ten games of NHL experience, playing last season for the Avs during their playoff run and netted one goal, six points, and averaged 22 minutes per game. He is also a D-man capable or reading a play and knowing when to jump in offensively. His first full NHL season will be fun to watch.
Honorable Mentions: Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks.
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