NHL Alternative Awards: Cy Young, Green Jacket and more

Cody McLeod (left), Matt Duchene (centre) and Robin Lehner (right) all walked away with some “hardware” this season. (AP Photos)
Cody McLeod (left), Matt Duchene (centre) and Robin Lehner (right) all walked away with some “hardware” this season. (AP Photos)

With the 2016-17 NHL season in the books, it’s only a matter of time before arguments erupt 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.

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

Winner: Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders

In the first year of his unsightly long-term deal, Ladd was the only player in the NHL to have 20-plus goals and fewer than 10 assists, finishing the season with a Rick Porcello-esque 23 goals and eight assists.

Runner-up: Michael Grabner, New York Rangers

Grabner had a higher goal total than Ladd with 27, but it’s hard to give him this prestigious honour due to his inflated assist figure (13).

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

Winner: Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche

The No. 1 defenceman on the most abysmal team in the NHL had the worst plus-minus (-34)? Colour me shocked.

Runner-up: Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

Duchene tied for the clubhouse lead with a minus-34, but in fairness only one player on the Avalanche finished in the black and he played one game.

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

Winner: Oscar Klefbom, Edmonton Oilers

Klefbom was second in the NHL with only six PIM this year, but it’s incredibly impressive that he did so while suiting up in all 82 games and playing significant minutes at a position that makes it naturally difficult to stay out of the box.

Runner-up: Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

Gaudreau tied with Minnesota’s Jason Pominville for the fewest PIM with four, and although he played six fewer games than the Wild winger, he played more total minutes, so he gets the slight edge.

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

Winner: Cody McLeod, Nashville Predators

He’s like Nick Lidstrom in his prime, in that he’s essentially a lock to walk away with the top award in his field every year. For McLeod, that’s chucking knucks –and he led the league in that category for a third straight season with 19 tilts.

Runner-up: Micheal Haley, San Jose Sharks

The sucker-punching 31-year-old made his mark in his first full-ish season in the NHL, racking up 16 fights, doubling his career best from a year ago.

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

Winner: Thomas Vanek, Florida Panthers

Vanek didn’t have the most shootout goals in the NHL this year (he was second) but he also didn’t miss, going 5-for-5 on the year.

Runner-up: Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

No player scored more goals in the shootout this year than Barkov, who converted seven of his 10 attempts – several of them of the filthy variety.

Shootout Sieve Award
Awarded to the goalie who sucked most in the shootout

Winner: Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres

It’s not a huge sample size, but Lehner didn’t make a single save in the shootout this year. He allowed eight goals on eight shots, resulting in four shootout losses for the Sabres.

Runner-up: Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

Ward got torched in the shootout this year, allowing an NHL-high 12 goals and posting a save percentage of .500. But it’s Cam Ward, so that’s just par for the course.

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

Winner: Mark Borowiecki, Ottawa Senators

In the most shocking upset of alternative award season, we have a new body-checking champ for the first time in half a decade. Borowiecki threw his weight around more than any other player this season, finishing with 364 hits and an impressive 5.2 hits per game.

Runner-up: Matt Martin, Toronto Maple Leafs

Martin led the league for five straight years, but after signing his big deal this summer he predictably got soft and fell all the way down to second, with a measly 300.

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

Winner: Kris Russell, Edmonton Oilers

Russell is once again the master of his domain after finishing second in blocked shots a year ago. Russell led all players by heroically throwing himself in front of 213 shots – an average of 3.1 per game.

Runner-up: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Karlsson gets a lot of credit for what he does with the puck on his stick and maybe after this season he’ll get some recognition for his selfless play without it. Because we all know how important blocked shots are to old-time hockey types, and Karlsson was second this year with a career-high 201, roughly double that of good ol’ Canadian boy Drew Doughty.

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

Winner: Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators

If there’s an heir apparent to Pavel Datsyuk in the thievery department, it’s Stone. The stealthy Senators winger once again led the league in takeaways with 96 – something he’s done every year since coming into the league as a full-time player in 2014-15.

Runner-up: Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes

Slavin was second in the league in takeaways with 83, which is a crazy number for a defenceman. Only two defencemen – Dustin Byfuglien (85) and Rob Blake (89) – have stole more pucks in a single season during the last 20 years .

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

Winner: Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

Duchene has quietly become one of the premiere faceoff artists in the NHL. After winning an impressive 57% of his draws last season, Duchene led all players this year at 62.6%.

Runner-up: Antoine Vermette, Anaheim Ducks

Unlike Duchene, Vermette has always been good in the dot (never lower than 53%), but he took his faceoff skills to another level this season, winning 62.3% of his draws.

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