The 2016-17 NHL season is coming to a close and what better way to cap off the year by taking a look at the front runners for the NHL Awards? The Awards ceremony, held in Las Vegas, does not take place until after the Stanley Cup has been hoisted, but voting for the awards takes place when the regular season ends. There is no harm in getting our predictions in now.
The Ted Lindsay Award is presented annually to the “Most Outstanding Player” in the NHL for that season, as voted by the members of the NHLPA.
Predictions for the 2016-17 Ted Lindsay Award
Sidney Crosby : 71 GP, 43 G, 41 A
At this point in his career, it’s hard to make a list of potential Ted Lindsay winners without mentioning Crosby. He’s won the award three times, and could very well win it once or twice more. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been plagued by injuries this season, with most of their defense being AHL call-ups all season long. In a team that has seen two NHL debuts, and plenty of emergency recalls, Crosby has been a light at the end of the tunnel.
Crosby has stayed relatively healthy this season, playing in 71 games so far. Not surprisingly, he leads the team in points during those games. He has 84 on the season, only one less than his 85 last year. With five games left, he’s easily going to break that. He’s averaging 20 minutes even this year, consistent with previous years.
Crosby was not a finalist for the Ted Lindsay last season. This year he has been one of the most influential players for the Penguins. Yes he does have a solid group around him, which includes Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, but Crosby has been outplaying them all. Centering the top line, he’s seen a handful of different wing pairs at is side. Patric Hornqvist is just one of the many. The most consistent is Conor Sheary, who has seemed to find a nice production rate at Crosby’s side. The other side has been a mix of almost every winger the team has.
Jake Guentzel is starting to settle in the spot, but still isn’t guaranteed to stay there. Crosby has stayed very consistent despite the line mixing, which isn’t easy to do. Still, he’s managed to not only lead his team on the bench; but lead his team on the ice too. He’s been involved with 84 of the team’s league-leading 259 goals; showing his skill. Without Crosby, the Pens offense would look a lot different and wouldn’t be nearly as successful. For that reason alone, Crosby is definitely Ted Lindsay material.
Brad Marchand : 77 GP, 38 G, 45 A
Marchand is having a breakout season, despite putting up 61 points last seasaon. Whether it’s just a hot streak, or Marchand is finally becoming an elite player, there is no doubt it has been impressive. Since the beginning of February, he’s played in 24 games. In those, he’s tallied an amazing 32 points. This has included three games where he’s managed three points, and one game where he put up four. He’s proved that he’s one the league’s best this season, and he could be arguably be named the best player since February; with McDavid being the only one to contest him.
Marchand is seen as a dirty player in the league, and the claim isn’t too far fetched. He only has 64 penalty minutes on the season though. He’s only managed two other seasons of under 80 penalty minutes, excluding the lockout season of 2012-13. These two seasons include his rookie year, where he had 51 minutes of box-time, and the 2013-14 season where he was penalized for 64 minutes.
The decreasing number says a lot about Marchand. Combined with the 83 points he’s put up in 77 games this season, he has changed his game. While he’s still not afraid to get into the dirty areas and battle for the puck, a trait that every player should have, Marchand has managed to find a way to get the puck into the net rather than find a way to get into the box. He’s participated in 38 percent of the team’s goals this year, a stat that is only topped by McDavid and Nikita Kucherov.
His ability to score this season have earned Marchand a spot on this list. He is one of the best players this year, and one of the most improved. He’s lead the Bruins to a possible wild card spot. David Pastrnak has the second most points on the team, but there’s still 17 points separating him and Marchand.
Connor McDavid : 77 GP, 28 G, 63 A
McDavid is the most-likely to win the award, and rightfully so. The 20-year-old has single-handedly propelled the Edmonton Oilers into a playoff spot. He’s played in all 77 games so far this season, and has amassed 91 points. This is a league-leading stat, placing McDavid above players like Crosby and Alex Ovechkin; two of the league’s best.
McDavid has proven he deserves the award as most outstanding on the year. He’s only had 23 games this season where he hasn’t registered a point. This means he has had a point in roughly 70 percent of his games this season, which is just slightly higher than Sidney Crosby; who has had 21 games without points out of his 70 so far.
McDavid has also been involved (scored or assisted) in 41 percent of the Oilers 224 goals so far this season. This is his first season as the team’s captain, and he’s done wonders with the letter on his chest. Not only is he a likely winner for the Ted Lindsay, but he could very possibly also win the Hart Trophy. The last three Ted Lindsay winners have also gone home with the Hart. Playing roughly 21 minutes of ice time each game, the 2015 first overall pick has shown just what he can do. He was injured and missed half of his rookie season, but his rebound has been amazing.
Simply put, McDavid deserves to win the Ted Lindsay. With five games left, there’s a chance he scores 100 points. He’s proved to be an amazing scorer, leader, and overall player this season. It can also be reasonably inferred that this is going to be the first of many for McDavid.