Now that the NHL season is past the first quarter mark, it is time to take a look at the awards races to this point in the season. Leon Draisaitl, Cale Makar, and Jack Campbell are some of the players off to a fantastic start to the 2021-2022 season.
There are a lot of familiar faces, but some early surprises, too. Or did you still think Alex Ovechkin was among the elite players in the league?
As for the Maple Leafs, right now the Vezina Trophy race is of most interest thanks to the great start of Jack Campbell.
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton
With 40 points (20 G, 20 A) in 20 games, Draisaitl is scoring an even 2.00 points per game. Since the 2000-2001 season, the highest points per game in a season for a player appearing in at least 20 games was Connor McDavid last season at 1.88. Historical scoring rates are a good way to stake your claim to the Hart Trophy.
Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton
After running away with the scoring race last season, McDavid is only slightly behind his pace from last season and opened the season with a 17-game point streak. He also has highlight reel goals that only the tiniest percentage of NHLers would even have the audacity to try. There is a very good chance that the Hart Trophy goes to Edmonton in some fashion.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington
Having the best start of his career at 36, Ovechkin has climbed between Draisaitl and McDavid in the scoring race (with a couple of extra games played). Nevertheless, Ovechkin is in the mix for an award that he was last a finalist for in 2014-2015.
Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary
25 points (9 G, 16 A) in 22 games is a strong start but Johnny Hockey is also riding some high percentages leading to being on ice for 20 goals for and just two against during 5-on-5 play. Even so, the Flames are controlling 57.8% of shot attempts and 59.2% of expected goals with Gaudreau on the ice.
Brad Marchand, LW, Boston
Taking a three-game break for a slew-foot suspension, Marchand remains a force when he sticks to playing hockey. He has 25 points (9 G, 15 A) in 18 games and the Bruins are dominant with Marchand on the ice – 63.4 CF%, 62.8 xGF%.
Cale Makar, Colorado
Makar’s offensive production is not likely sustainable, but what can you say about a defenceman with 20 points (9 G, 11 A) in 16 games. He has rare playmaking ability and the Avalanche handled Nathan MacKinnon’s absence in part because Makar became a driving force.
Adam Fox, N.Y. Rangers
Last year’s winner has 21 points (4 G, 17 A) in 20 games and while the Rangers get outshot with Fox on the ice, it’s much worse when he is off the ice.
Charlie McAvoy, Boston
Getting more of a power play opportunity and it is leading to more production, but McAvoy’s defensive impact has been strong for a while now. This season, the Bruins are controlling 55.5% of shot attempts and 55.1% of expected goals while outscoring opponents 23-11 (67.7 GF%) during 5-on-5 play.
Dougie Hamilton, New Jersey
Making an immediate difference with the Devils, Hamilton is providing similar results that he delivered for stronger teams in previous seasons. In addition to 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in 16 games, the Devils are controlling 57.3% of shot attempts, 55.9% of expected goals and 63.3% of goals scored during 5-on-5 play. Hamilton leads all defensemen with 3.81 shots on goal per game.
Aaron Ekblad, Florida
A strong comeback season after breaking his leg last year, with 17 points (6 G, 11 A) in 21 games. The Panthers are controlling 56.8% of shot attempts and 54.7% of expected goals with Ekblad on the ice but he’s rolling with high percentages on his way to outscoring the opposition 24-10 (70.6 GF%) during 5-on-5 play.
Jack Campbell, Toronto
Not only has Jack Campbell been forced to play more than the Maple Leafs intended but has a league-leading .946 save percentage. Jack Campbell ranks first in Goals Saved Above Average and Goals Saved Above Expected. That’s enough to earn Jack Campbell the Vezina nod for the first quarter.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
After a couple of down seasons, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has bounced back this season, posting a .936 save percentage and ranking second in Goals Saved Above Expected and first in delta Fenwick Save Percentage.
Igor Shesterkin, N.Y. Rangers
While Shesterkin is among the top handful of goaltenders when it comes to Goals Saved Above Average and Goals Saved Above Expected, what really stands out is that he is doing it behind a Rangers team that surrenders a lot of high-quality chances.
Frederik Andersen, Carolina
Health and declining performance had been issues in his last couple of years with the Maple Leafs, but Andersen has responded ideally to his new opportunity with the Hurricanes this season.
Robin Lehner, Vegas
The overall numbers might be flying under the radar a bit but the Golden Knights have been leaning heavily on Lehner this season. With all of their injuries, the team defense in front of Lehner has been quite weak, but he has kept the Golden Knights on the right path.
Lucas Raymond, RW, Detroit
The long-term expectations were high for Lucas Raymond, but it’s a little surprising just how seamless his transition has been to the NHL. Right now, he has 21 points (9 G, 12 A) and 52 shots on goal in 22 games. He is not just along for the ride on Detroit’s first line, he pulls his weight there, too.
Moritz Seider, D, Detroit
A rookie defenceman logging more than 22 minutes per game is sure to stand out and Seider is also tied for second among rookie scorers with 14 points (2 G, 12 A). The 20-year-old is already making a difference, but this is just the start for him.
Dawson Mercer, C, New Jersey
Mercer has forced his way into a bigger role with the Devils. It was an accomplishment for him to make the opening night roster and then after a few games he had secured a regular spot in the top nine and he has nine points (3 G, 6 A) in his past nine games, giving him 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in 19 games.
Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim
My pick at the start of the season, the Ducks pivot started relatively slowly, but now has nine points (4 G, 5 A) and 21 shots on goal in the past seven games, so now he too has 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in 20 games.
Bowen Byram, D, Colorado
Staying healthy remains a challenge for the Avalanche blueliner but he really came into his own early this season while Devon Toews was out of the Colorado lineup. Byram has nine points (4 G, 5 A) and 22 shots on goal in 12 games and has been impressive enough to come in ahead of goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic for the fifth spot.
Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston
This might seem boring, to stick with the guy who has won the award four times already but look at the results. Bergeron has the lowest rate of shot attempts and expected goals against among forwards.
Anthony Cirelli, C, Tampa Bay
A healthy Cirelli is having his expected impact, allowing the lowest rate of shots per 60 minutes and in the top 10 among forwards (minimum 200 minutes) when it comes to shot attempts and expected goals against per 60 minutes.
Marcus Foligno, LW, Minnesota
A consistently strong defensive winger throughout his career, Foligno has added a bit to his game offensively. He still is among the Top 10 when it comes to rate of shots and expected goals against per 60 minutes.
Blake Coleman, LW, Calgary
The Flames’ big offseason acquisition, Coleman ranks second in rate of shots against and 11th in shot attempts against per 60 minutes, a strong fit in Darryl Sutter’s grind-it-out system.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Colorado
The Avalanche are known for their up-tempo hockey but Landeskog has strong defensive numbers early in the season, ranking fourth among forwards in expected goals against per 60 minutes.
Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh
The Penguins have had a long list of injuries, including to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as well as COVID cases to make for a challenging start to the season and Sullivan has guided the Penguins through.
Darryl Sutter, Calgary
There is little doubt that the Flames are playing the kind of stifling hockey expected of a Darryl Sutter hockey team.
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina
It is easy to look at the Hurricanes, see the best record in the league, and not give Brind’Amour his due credit, but there was some expectation that, in the wake of Dougie Hamilton’s departure, there could be some slippage with Carolina this season.
Brad Larsen, Columbus
The Blue Jackets have exceeded expectations, especially after dealing defenceman Seth Jones in the offseason, and while goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has been great, Larsen has helped Columbus to stronger underlying numbers.
Lindy Ruff, New Jersey
The Devils have been surprisingly competitive, especially considering that Jack Hughes has been out for most of the season with a dislocated shoulder. Credit to Ruff for keeping this team moving in the right direction.
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