2018 NHL Alternative Awards: Cy Young, Green Jacket and more

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/3951/" data-ylk="slk:Kris Russell">Kris Russell</a> did what Kris Russell does. (Getty)
Kris Russell did what Kris Russell does. (Getty)

With the 2017-18 NHL season in the books, it’s almost time to really get mad online over who should win which award and which media member deserves to have their credentials revoked. But before the ballots are cast and eventually skewered for the big boy awards, we decided to hand out some hardware to players who either excelled or failed in a specific facet of the game.

Cy Young Award
Awarded to the player who had the most impressive disparity in goals and assists

Winner: Michael Grabner

Last year’s runner-up, Michael Grabner was the runaway winner in 2017-18. The speedy Rangers forward was once again one of the NHL’s best one-dimensional players, finishing the season with a remarkable 27 goals and only nine assists. He was the only player in the league with 20-plus goals and fewer than 10 assists. Steve Carlton-esque!

Runner-up: Artem Anisimov

The Blackhawks centre had been a pretty consistent 20-20 guy for the past few years, but he didn’t get as much help from his line mates this season, ending the year with 20 goals and 11 helpers.

Green Jacket
Awarded to the player with the worst plus-minus rating

Winner: Nick Leddy

Minus 42. That’s a Tiger Woods in his prime playing from the reds on a public course type of performance from Nick Leddy. Nobody in the league was even really close his mark of futility. The closest on the Isles was Anders Lee at minus-25, while Leddy’s most frequent partner, Johnny Boychuk, was only a minus-8. Leddy finished with the third worst plus-minus in the last 20 years, just four points back of Pittsburgh’s Rico Fata in 2003-04.


Runner-up: Kyle Okposo

It’s not really surprising that the consolation prize came down to a group of players playing for some of the worst teams in the league.

Dave Keon Award
Awarded to the player who excelled most at staying out of the box (minimum 70 games played)

Winner: Ryan O’Reilly

This might be one of the most impressive stats of the year. A player who logs as much ice time as Ryan O’Reilly while playing a strong two-way game should not be able to finish with only two penalty minutes.

Runner-up: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

The 22-minute-a-night shutdown man had two minor penalties for the entire season, both of which were infractions for flipped pucks over glass.

Knuckles Nilan Award
Awarded to the player who punched the most faces

Winner: Micheal Haley

Think fighting in the NHL is dying? Tell that to Florida’s Micheal Haley, who dropped the mitts 22 times this season — six more times than last season when he was the runner-up to Cody McLeod, who led the league for three straight years.

Runner-up: Cody McLeod and Tom Wilson

It was a down year for the NHL’s most accomplished knuckle-chucker, as Cody McLeod threw hands 13 times, six fewer than he did last season. That tied him with Tom Wilson, who set a new career high.

Jussi Jokinen Trophy
Awarded to the player who excelled most in the shootout

Winner: Tyler Bozak

He didn’t finish with the most goals in the shootout, but he was second with five and only missed once on the season. Much like Jokinen in his prime shootout years (which was actually just ’05-06), Bozak has mastered his move and it’s proven near impossible for goalies to read.

Runner-up: Artemi Panarin

This one was tough. Do you give it to the guy who is flawless, like Brayden Schenn who went 3-for-3 or Matt Tkachuk who went 4-for-5? Or do you give it to the guy who scored the most. We settled on Panarin because a) it doesn’t really matter and b) scoring a league-high six goals on 10 shots is still pretty damn good.

Show Stopper Award
Awarded to the goalie who excelled most in the shootout

Winner: Last year, we paid tribute to the NHL’s worst shootout goalie because Robin Lehner going 0-for-8 was too good to pass up. The same logic applies this year but reversed for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 16 of 17 shots in the skills comp.

Runner-up: Malcolm Subban

The Golden Knights backup doesn’t have the benefit of a big sample size, but he was a perfect 9-for-9 over two shootouts this season.

Matt Martin Trophy
Awarded to the player who led the league in hits

Winner: Nikita Zadorov

This one was a bit of a shocker. Perhaps it shouldn’t be because Zadorov is a monster at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, but he’s leading the league by a pretty wide margin with 278 and has never really been close in the past. Part of that is due to circumstance, as Zadorov plays more minutes than some of the other heavy hitters, and part is total games played, as guys like Mark Borowiecki and Nicolas Deslauriers dish out more punishment on a per game basis but haven’t seen the ice as often as Zadorov.

Runner-up: Chris Wagner

The rugged Ducks forward is also a surprising name to find atop the list. Granted this is his first full season in the league and Randy Carlyle loves him some truculence, so perhaps it was just the perfect storm.

Kris Russell Award
Awarded to the player who led the league in blocked shots

Winner: Kris Russell 

Death, taxes and Kris Russell leading the league in blocked shots. Seriously, it’s incredible how much rubber this man eats. He led the league this year with 223, 10 more than he blocked a year ago when he also finished first. Now say what you will about Russell’s contract or tangible skills, the man is putting his body on the line every night for one of the worst team in hockey. Bless his heart.

Runner-up: Alec Martinez

Alec Martinez has always been a solid shot suppressor and has led the Kings in blocked shots for three straight years now, with his 206 this season a new career high.

Pavel Datsyuk Pickpocket Award
Awarded to the player who led the league in takeaways

Winner: Connor McDavid

Mark Stone has been dethroned! This is pretty notable, as Stone had led the league in this category for three straight years. The fact it was McDavid who took up the mantle with 111 takeaways is no real surprise (it’s not like he has much help getting the puck in Edmonton) given his speed and smarts. Most players at the top of this list, like the namesake of this fake trophy, are some of the most skilled players in the NHL.

Runner-up: Jeff Skinner

As mentioned above, skill is a big prerequisite and Skinner certainly has an abundance of that. His 93 takeaways are 16 more than teammate and last year’s runner up Jaccob Slavin and, for what it’s worth, the most in franchise history.

Yannic Perreault Trophy
Awarded to the player who led the league in faceoff percentage (minimum 500 faceoffs)

Winner: Ryan O’Reilly

Ryan O’Reilly was far and away the most dominant player in the dot this season. He’s always been good at it, with a career faceoff percentage of 55, but he’s taken that part of his game to a new level this season. Not only did he finish with the best percentage in the league with 60 percent, he also took 189 more draws than anybody else.

Runner-up: Antoine Vermette

Forever a shootout bridesmaid. Vermette, last year’s runner-up, had a similar success rate to O’Reilly, but took far fewer draws.

The Luckiest Man Alive: William Karlsson

Awarded to the player with the highest shooting percentage (minimum 100 shots)

Wild Bill was the breakout player of the year, jumping from six goals last year to 43 this season. Credit to Karlsson — you don’t just luck your way into scoring 40 goals in the NHL. But it sure helps to shoot 23.4% on the year, a big leap from the 7.3% he averaged over his first two full season in the league.

The Unluckiest Man Alive: Duncan Keith

Awarded to the player with the lowest shooting percentage in the league (minimum 100 shots)

OK, full disclaimer. Detroit’s Nicklas Jensen actually won based on the criteria, with no goals on 105 shots. But we can’t not give it to Duncan Keith, an actually good NHL defenseman who finished with one goal on 183 shots for 0.5%. That’s pretty remarkable, even for a guy who was never a big goal scorer.

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