Now that the regular season is over, it is time to give out the NHL's major merit-based awards. Since our GVT metric gives us a single number by which to judge a player's contributions, as we've shown all season with our Player Power Rankings, we can use it to distribute the hardware as well.
Let's start with the rookies.
Finalists: Jimmy Howard, Detroit, 23.3; Tuukka Rask, Boston, 23.2; Tyler Myers, Buffalo, 14.6; Matt Duchene, Colorado, 8.0
By virtue of their position, it is easier for rookie goaltenders to have a big impact than rookie skaters, and that certainly is the case this season, as Howard and Rask have had the highest rookie GVT ratings, with their minuscule 0.1 difference essentially a tie. Rask led the entire NHL in goals-against average and save percentage, an impressive feat even when playing for defensive-minded Boston. Howard came out of nowhere to start 61 games and pull the Red Wings back into the playoffs.
But Myers should not be discounted; his 14.6 GVT is the second highest of any rookie defenseman in the past 20 years, behind only Nicklas Lidstrom (!), underscoring just how big his upside is. Myers' GVT was much higher than that of Duchene, the other most talked-about rookie. I'll admit I'm sympathetic to Pierre LeBrun's argument that Howard's age should be a handicap in comparing him to younger candidates like Rask and Myers, but that'll be for the voters to decide.
The Winner: Jimmy Howard or Tuukka Rask
Finalists: Travis Zajac, New Jersey, 6.1 defensive GVT (DGVT); Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh, 5.8 DGVT; Zach Parise, New Jersey, 5.8 DGVT
Judging defensive contributions among forwards is tricky, so GVT gives consideration to ice time, penalty-killing time, plus/minus and shots against while on the ice. By those standards, Zajac was the best defensive forward in the NHL. His plus-22 was second on the Devils (to Parise), the Devils were second overall in shots against and Zajac spent the most time on the penalty kill of any Devils forward. As impressive, his GAA at 5-on-5 was 1.68, the lowest of any forward in the NHL with more than 1,000 minutes at even strength. Staal is a perennial candidate for this award, and with good reason: His 237 minutes on the penalty kill were third among NHL forwards. Parise is not known for his penalty killing, but his plus-24 was tops on an already great defensive team, and his GAA at 5-on-5 was almost as good as Zajac's at 1.79.
The Winner: Travis Zajac
Finalists: Duncan Keith, Chicago, 22.3; Mike Green, Washington, 21.8; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles, 18.9
It's a testament to Keith's level of play that on Canada's Olympic team, the deepest hockey team in recent memory, he had the most ice time of any player. Keith has been a late bloomer, as he is already 26, but he has established himself as the most complete defenseman in the league. He had the second-highest offensive GVT and third-highest defensive GVT of any defenseman, and his total ice time of 2,180 minutes was the highest total in the league. Thanks in large part to Keith, the Blackhawks allowed a league-low 2,058 shots against, over 150 less than the second-place Devils.
Green has had another great season, leading all defensemen in goals and points for a second straight campaign, as well as leading in assists. His game also is becoming better rounded, as he now takes a regular shift on the penalty-killing unit and his plus-39 was third in the NHL. Doughty was the leader of the Kings' resurgence, and was third in offense and fifth in defense among defensemen; while it seems a shame not to recognize his incredible season at age 20, the consensus around the league is that there is at least one -- if not more -- Norris trophy in his future.
The Winner: Duncan Keith
Finalists: Ryan Miller, Buffalo, 32.5; Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose, 27.3; Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix, 24.4
Miller has been the story all season, and it seems like this award is his to lose. His 2.22 GAA and 0.929 save percentage were both second in the NHL, but he maintained them over one and a half times as many games as Tuukka Rask.
Nabokov's underlying numbers were almost as good, but he played more games than Miller and sported an excellent 0.740 save percentage in the shootout. Bryzgalov helped the Coyotes emerge as the surprise story of the NHL, with a 0.921 save percentage; he won 42 games with less offensive support than Miller or Nabokov got. In the end, it's hard to deny the obvious, which is that Miller has been the best goaltender in the NHL this season.
The Winner: Ryan Miller
Finalists: Ryan Miller, Buffalo, 32.5; Alex Ovechkin, Washington, 30.1; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh, 29.6
Obviously, any one of these three players would be a fine choice for MVP. Miller has been the heart and soul of his team, single-handedly transforming it from a bubble team to a division champion. Ovechkin has been Ovechkin, the most talented and dynamic offensive player in the NHL, and he led the league in goals per game and points per game (if the NHL was scored like the NBA or MLB's batting averages, Ovechkin would be the runaway winner). His offensive GVT of 26.9 was the highest in the league by far. Crosby has been the most versatile player in the league, leading the NHL in goals, faceoff wins and shootout goals. While comparing forwards to goaltenders is difficult, GVT gives a slight edge to Miller, but this one might be too close to call.
The Winner: Ryan Miller
Here are a few other GVT awards:
Best defensive defenseman: Chris Pronger of Philadelphia led all NHLers with an 8.8 defensive GVT. This is Pronger's fourth time leading the league in defensive GVT, having already done it in 1997-98, 1999-00 and 2001-02 with the Blues. Boston's Zdeno Chara was second with 8.7, while Duncan Keith was third with 8.6.
Best shootout player: Sidney Crosby's eight goals on 10 shots were good for a 3.8 shootout GVT. Underscoring just how big Crosby's lead was, Chicago's Jonathan Toews was third with eight goals on 14 shots (2.8 SGVT), while Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi was second, blocking 26 of 32 shots for a 3.4 SGVT.
And your final GVT Power Rankings:
Puck Prospectus: Player Power Rankings
Ryan Miller held on to the top spot in the rankings, and surprisingly, two rookie goalies also made the top 10.
OGVT: Offensive GVT
GGVT: Goaltending GVT
DGVT: Defensive GVT
SGVT: Shootout GVT
GVT: Total GVT
Rank Player Last Week OGVT/GGVT DGVT SGVT GVT
1. Ryan Miller, G, BUF 1 33.8 -0.5 -0.8 32.5
Comment: Many predicted that Miller would be burned out due to 70 games plus the Olympics, but while his numbers since the break have dipped a little (2.41 GAA, 0.922 save percentage) they've still been better than those of almost every other NHL goaltender. He's hoping he'll have to play through 20 more games.
2. Alex Ovechkin, F, WAS 2 26.9 3.9 -0.7 30.1
Comment: Second in the NHL with 109 points, third with 50 goals. His team was first overall by a landslide. And yet, by Ovechkin's standards, it was a subpar season. However, his Capitals head into the playoffs as Cup favorites.
3. Sidney Crosby, F, PIT 3 22.0 3.7 3.8 29.5
Comment: At 22, Crosby already has been an MVP, league scoring leader, goal-scoring leader, Olympic gold captain and Cup captain. He now has a chance to become only the third player to captain back-to-back Cup-winning teams in the past 25 years, along with Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman.
4. Evgeni Nabokov, G, SJ 4 21.2 -0.8 2.4 27.3
Comment: This has been Nabokov's best regular season, but his shakiness at and since the Olympics gives pause. It's nothing that two weeks of solid play against Colorado won't silence.
5. Henrik Sedin, F, VAN 5 20.4 4.8 0.0 26.0
Comment: Even six weeks ago, it was hard to find anyone who really thought Sedin would hold on to the NHL scoring lead. Yet amazingly, the Sedin twins' five-year, $30 million contracts now seem like bargains.
6. Nicklas Backstrom, F, WAS 9 20.4 3.3 0.9 24.6
Comment: Backstrom and Ovechkin could be to the 2010s what Gretzky and Kurri were to the 1980s and Lemieux and Jagr were to the 1990s.
7. Ilya Bryzgalov, G, PHO 6 21.7 0.5 2.3 24.4
Comment: Amazingly, the Coyotes obtained Bryzgalov off waivers less than three years ago, and he's since put together two great seasons, including leading the Coyotes back to the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
8. Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR 8 23.7 -0.1 0.1 23.7
Comment: Lundqvist was excellent up to the end, stopping 46 of 47 shots in the season finale against Philadelphia, but the Rangers came up short by a hair.
9. Jimmy Howard, G, DET 11 22.7 0.3 0.3 23.3
Comment: While people will go on about Howard's lack of playoff experience, they forget about Ryan Miller, Cam Ward and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, all of whom were playoff heroes in their first appearances.
10. Tuukka Rask, G, BOS 13 22.2 0.6 0.5 23.2
Comment: Many expected Boston to receive quality goaltending this season. Few expected it from Rask, who led the NHL in GAA and save percentage, and now has cemented his place as Boston's goaltender of the future.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Tom Awad is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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