My NHL Awards 2017 ballot, by Greg Wyshynski

There’s a constant debate within the Professional Hockey Writers Association about transparency in NHL Awards voting. Which is odd, when we’re the first ones to gripe about a lack of transparency within hockey, whether it’s about video reviews or Hall of Fame classes.

I think every opinion we have should be open to debate, scrutiny and criticism, and these award ballots are just an extension of that. If you’re honored to have some level of influence in the postseason awards balloting, and you’ve taken this honor seriously, then you should be willing and able to defend your choices. If you choose to.

That said: To each their own. If a beat writer feels that publishing their ballots is more trouble than it’s worth, that’s fine. If a national columnist doesn’t want their mentions blown up because they put Sidney Crosby third instead of second for the Hart, that’s fine. It doesn’t jibe with how I feel about it, and I think it ultimately makes the PWHA look hypocritical, but whatever.

That said, the person who left Crosby completely off their Hart ballot needs to reveal themselves for public flogging …

Here’s my ballot for the 2017 NHL Awards, with a few notes of justification. Please note that these are the only awards we actually vote on. We leave it to the broadcasters to [expletive] up the JAck Adams.

HART TROPHY

(“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”)

  1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
  2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
  5. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

I can never in good faith give the Hart Trophy to a player that didn’t make the playoffs. I suppose it comes down to how one determines “value”; in my case, value means success and if you’re not one of the 16 teams in the playoffs, it wasn’t a successful season.

Still, I wanted to give some love to Kucherov for what he accomplished. I was mildly surprised more didn’t.

Oh, and Connor over Sid all day for the Hart.

NORRIS TROPHY

(“to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”)

  1. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
  2. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
  3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
  4. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
  5. Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames

This was extraordinarily close.

At one point I had Karlsson up. Then I had Hedman, which might have been more wishful thinking than anything. But after really, really digging into the numbers, Burns got my vote for an extraordinary offensive season. And by that I mean a typical season for Karlsson, except Burns had it.

Karlsson is going to go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history and Burns will go down as a forward playing defense with a weird beard and snakes. But the Norris was his this season.

CALDER TROPHY

(“to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition”)

  1. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
  3. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
  5. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

I had the top four nailed, but Mitch Marner snuck in there at No. 5 in the voting. That’s fine. Maybe as a Claude Lemieux fan, I’m partial to Tkachuk’s particular set of skills.

LADY BYNG TROPHY

(“to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”)

  1. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
  2. Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers
  3. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
  4. Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
  5. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

I profusely apologize for leaving Mikael Granlund off my ballot, as he finished third for the Byng IRL. Also, this award is stupid, and it’s stupid that writers vote for it instead of on-ice officials, who are ultimately the ones that can evaluate one’s gentlemanliness.

SELKE TROPHY

(“to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”)

  1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
  2. John Tavares, New York Islanders
  3. Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
  4. Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators
  5. Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames

I left Kesler off my ballot because, honestly, he was hype. It was reputation buzz, and there were five guys I felt deserved it more based on the numbers. Including the guy you figured would be the reputation candidate, Bergeron, who in fact was the best defensive forward in hockey in whatever was considered a “down year” for him.

Tavares, for what it’s worth, was criminally overlooked.

NHL All-Star Team

CENTER 

  1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
  2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

RIGHT WING

  1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
  3. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

LEFT WING

  1. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
  2. Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
  3. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSE

  1. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
  2. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
  3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
  4. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
  5. Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames
  6. Justin Schultz, Pittsburgh Penguins

GOALTENDER

  1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
  2. Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
  3. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

Just a note that the totality of Dubnyk’s season was still incredible and I refuse to be a victim of recency bias.

NHL All-Rookie Team

FORWARD

  1. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
  3. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

DEFENSE

  1. Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
  2. Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers

GOAL

  1. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

So there’s my ballot.

Have at it.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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