The 2019-20 NHL campaign is less than three weeks away, making it the perfect time to preview what might be ahead.
I’m going to predict each of the major award winners alongside honorable mentions I believe to have a realistic shot.
Up first is the Norris Trophy.
Winner: John Klingberg – Dallas Stars
Klingberg has averaged 63 points per 82 games over the last two seasons despite playing for a Dallas team that has struggled to score. The Stars ranked 25th in total goals – and 28th at 5v5 – during that period. In other words, there wasn’t a ton of opportunity to find the scoresheet and yet Klingberg had no problem doing so.
With Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, and Roope Hintz (full time) now in the mix, the offense should be more potent. That will give Klingberg, who has averaged 24+ minutes in consecutive seasons, more chances to accumulate points.
There’s a lot more to Klingberg than just offense, though. He is a solid defender and big-time play driver, positively influencing the Stars’ Corsi For%, Expected Goals For%, and Goals For% in significant fashion over the last two seasons.
I think he is going to have a monster season and be rewarded accordingly.
Honorable mention: Erik Karlsson – San Jose Sharks
There was a lot of talk about Karlsson and how he wasn’t his usual self last season. Ignore it.
Karlsson put up 45 points in 53 games, which equates to 69.6 points over 82 games. Remarkable production.
His on-ice numbers were just as impressive, if not more so. The Sharks controlled 59.22% of the shot attempts, 58.88% of the expected goals, and 53.40% of the actual goals with Karlsson out there at 5v5. Zero (0) of the 137 defenders to log 950+ minutes in that game state bested Karlsson in either of the first two categories, and he was also well above average in terms of the latter.
Karlsson is still a superstar. If he’s healthy, and plays enough games, I think he’s a good bet to contend for some hardware next season.
Honorable mention: Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman isn’t as flashy as some of the league’s other top defenders but that doesn’t make him any less effective.
That’s especially telling when looking at Goals Above Replacement, where Hedman’s +32 GAR from 2017-19 is best among all blueliners.
He’s steady defensively, he’s physical when he needs to be, and he is a lock for 50+ points every season. Given the supporting cast Hedman has to work with, there’s certainly potential for 60-70.
If he puts up those kind of numbers while logging big minutes for what could be the league’s best team, he’s going to get serious consideration.