It's early June. No hockey is being played.
Yet, we're voting for league awards and the playoffs haven't started yet. Seems normal, right?
According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the NHL Awards voting has officially begun, with a week-long-span available for decision-making. By this time next week, voting will be closed, but who knows when we will know who is the winner of each category?
Voting for the 2019-20 NHL Awards has officially begun. Ballots are being distributed by the league today and must be submitted by 5 p.m. ET next Monday.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 8, 2020
The season's award ceremony is usually held in mid-June, quickly after the Stanley Cup Finals, but with that date being pushed back until potentially the early fall, it may be quite some time before we know who wins each award.
In the meantime, we might as well speculate as best as we can as to who could take home some hardware or should at least have their name thrown in the mix, specifically from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hart - Player judged most valuable to his team
- N/A - The Blue Jackets won't have anyone in serious consideration for this award, like the Ted Lindsay award, especially when it means to compete against the likes of Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak, Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin...we need not go on. Maybe Pierre-Luc Dubois or Alexandre Texier one day, eh?
Norris - Defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position
- Seth Jones - If we're going by the eye-test, then it's fair to say (and a little biased) that Seth Jones is one of the top-five defensemen in the NHL. However, a low goal-scoring pattern (which is very unfair) has kept his public attention at bay. That, and the mid-season injury that has caused him to miss 14 games. His 30 points in 56 games are stellar but are overshadowed by the 75-point season of the Washington Capitals' John Carlson.
- Zach Werenski - There's certainly been enough critique of Zach Werenski's game over the past few seasons, and perhaps he has heard it. With 20 goals on the season, Werenski led all league defenseman in scoring and established himself as an elite offensive weapon on the blue line. Though Norris talk around Werenski may be limited in the coming years (since he's not exactly known for his defense, his all-star selections should be high).
Calder - Player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League
- Elvis Merzlikins - Though it was expected for Alexandre Texier to be the one to make a run at this back in October, it's been the king of Columbus who has really made some noise. At the moment, it seems it might be Colorado Avalanche's Cale Makar's award to lose (or have lost), bur Merzlikins has a great case. With a 13-9-8 record, .923 SV% and 2.35 GAA, especially in light of the Joonas Korpisalo injury and needing to fill the skates of Sergei Bobrovsky, Merzlikins adjusted well and really helped carry the Blue Jackets to a "postseason" spot. He might not be the best rookie in the NHL this year, but he might be the most valuable.
Lady Byng - Player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability
- Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones - These three skaters stick out as Blue Jackets captains to be considered for a Lady Byng - type award. Their consistent community work and composure on the ice to play a game of integrity qualifies all three of them to be nominated. Now, Nick Foligno's suspension in November might have knocked him down a few pegs on the list...but maybe the voters forgot?
Selke - Forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game
- N/A - This is another case of other league stars just shining brighter. Sean Couturier and Patrice Bergeron have been regulars in this conversation and will continue to be. Alexander Wennberg, this was supposed to be your award, man.
Vezina - Goaltender who is "adjudged to be the best at this position
- N/A - In two years, it's not crazy to think Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins might be ready to jump into this discussion. I mean, for a stretch of 2-3 weeks, Merzlikins looked like he might just go for it all this year. They're both young and brand new to the starting scene, so let's give them some time.
Jack Adams - Coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success
- John Tortorella - If the description of this world alone doesn't give you clarity as to who should be the winner of this award, then I don't know what you are paying attention to. Tortorella, seeking his second Jack Adams award, has taken a group of AHL players and willed them to prove the hockey world wrong. And they did. It's nothing against the likes of Alain Vigneault of the Philadelphia Flyers or Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but who else could do what Tortorella is doing. How can you lose a multiple-Vezina winning goaltender and two offensive stars (one who could win the Hart Trophy) and still be on pace to meet your previous season's point total?
Did I miss any names? Who else should be considered for an award from the Blue Jackets?
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