The Roundtable Week 25

Michael Finewax
Corey Abbott breaks down each Eastern Conference series.

NHL Eastern Conference Round 1 Preview

Corey Abbott breaks down each Eastern Conference series.

This week’s question is:

Who is going to win the Hart and Norris Trophy this season?

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Daniel: Well, I think Nikita Kucherov has to be a slam-dunk for the Hart, no? I mean, he has 120 points so far, which is blowing the rest of the field away. It isn't quite Wayne Gretzky's 215 back in 1985-86, but it's impressive for this era. He needs just six more points to surpass the 125 points Joe Thornton posted in 2005-06, the highest point total in the 2000's. If you take 'Kooch' off of the Lightning, they're still probably pretty amazing, but he gets the award nonetheless. If this was last year, Kucherov might have been able to take an Uber with Victor Hedman to the awards show. This season it's likely Brent Burns, Mark Giordano and Morgan Rielly are the three finalists for the Norris. Rielly has lost steam since early in the season, but Giordano is making a strong late push to become the favorite. However, it's Burns' award to win right now.


Corey: It's hard to argue that Kucherov is not deserving of the Hart Trophy.  He has just been an offensive machine this season, while setting new franchise records.  Kucherov has shattered the team's record for points in a season and he became the first player in Tampa Bay history to earn multiple 100-point seasons.  He is also the first player to reach the 100-point plateau prior to March 1 since Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux did it back in 1996.  Kucherov has 83 assists alone this year, which is more than most players have points.  That gives him the edge over Connor McDavid, who has been great this season despite Edmonton's problems.    
My vote for the Norris would go to Brent Burns.  He has been the most consistent point producer from the back end this season and he ranks eighth in the league in average ice time per game among blueliners at 25:02.  I agree that Mark Giordano and Morgan Rielly are probably his top competitors. 


Ryan: I'll agree that Kucherov should get the Hart Trophy.  I think there was an outside argument for Patrick Kane provided that the Chicago Blackhawks made the playoffs because you could have suggested that Kane did more to get his team there than Kucherov did for his.  However, Chicago will almost certainly miss the playoffs now, so that's a moot point.

Mark Giordano is my pick for the Norris Trophy.  He has slightly more goals, but slightly less points than Brent Burns, so that's pretty much a wash.  Their ice time is also similar.  Giordano is a big contributor when it comes to blocks (139) while Burns is more mediocre in that regard (95).  Burns' CF% Rel and FF% Rel is a few percentage points lower than Giordano's too.  Plus Giordano's offensive/defensive zone entries at the start of shifts is fairly even while Burns starts 63.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone.  I see Giordano as the better balanced defenseman so in my mind, Burns would need a significant edge offensively to warrant getting the Norris Trophy over Giordano, which Burns doesn't have at this time.


Brian: I couldn't agree more with Ryan on Mark Giordano. On top of all the stats Ryan set out to support Gio's selection as the Norris Trophy winner there is also the fact he has one of the highest hockey IQs and he is Calgary's quiet but clear leader. Many Flames have stated that he is the glue that holds the team together.

With respect to the Hart Trophy, it's hard to go against Kucherov. He is having the best season any forward has had in the last dozen years. That said, I also think Patrick Kane deserves some votes as does Gio, based on his amazing season at the age of 35.  


Joey: The best player on the best team doesn't always win the Hart Trophy, but expect that to happen this year. After getting off to an incredible start last season, Nikita Kucherov "cooled off" a little bit, but still topped the 100-point mark. This year, he never cooled off. He's been terrific from start to finish and he deserves to take home the Hart in 2018-19. Could the Bolts survive without him? Probably. But there's no denying that he's been the most productive player in the game all year.

As for the Norris, I'm glad to see Mark Giordano get some love from my fellow Rotoworld writers. He's been incredible all year. Because he's in Calgary, he doesn't get much national attention. The reality is, he's having a career-year at the age of 35. As of right now, he has 72 points in 73 games and his CF% of nearly 57 percent is nothing short of remarkable. Give this guy the award. 


Michael: While Nikita Kucherov has been the best player in the NHL, I think that the Hart, which goes to the Most Valuable Player to his team, should go to Connor McDavid. Without Kucherov, the Lightning are still the best team in the NHL but without McDavid, the Oilers are the worst team in the NHL. The award should be given to the best player in the NHL (usually the top team isn’t carried by just one player) and McDavid should have won it last season as he was by far the best player in the NHL but the true meaning of the Trophy sways some when it comes to the vote.

As far as the Norris is concerned, it will be close between Burns and Giordano but Burns has been a bit better this season. Giordano will get extra votes because it is a career-year for him (and at the age of 35) but this is also Burns’ best season to date with 77 points and he is no youngster either as he is 34.

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