NHLN Awards Race: Hart Trophy

Cam Lewis
March 13 2016 09:27AM


The Hart Trophy, or the NHL's Most Valuable Player, is awarded to the player who is judged most valuable to his team. Now, this wording creates a bit of a misunderstanding. Does this mean that it should go to whatever player would have the most significant impact if they were removed from their team and swapped with a replacement-level player? Or is it simply the best player in the league in any given year? Well, it can't just be that, because it's against the rules to award it to a player on a team that doesn't make the playoffs. So is it looking at who's the best player on the best team in the league? 

To me, it's the first one. Which player is irreplaceable? Who would have the most detrimental negative impact if they were removed from a team, and in contrast, who could have the biggest positive impact on a bad team if they were added to the roster? Of course, the people who vote in these things don't tend to see it that way, and the Hart is usually just awarded to the best player in the league that year. 

Anyways, based on what's happened through the first three-quarters of the season, here are my picks for the NHL's Most Valuable Player. 

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Top to Bottom: Checking in with each team after the Trade Deadline

Cam Lewis
March 09 2016 09:00AM

With the trade deadline passing, we're officially into the final stretch of the season. By now, we can pretty much tell how the playoff picture is going to shape out, save for some shuffling among seeds, and a couple of battles for final Wild Card spots. Even though a good chunk of the teams in the NHL have no hope left for the 2015-16 season, there's still something to look forward to. In this month's check-in, I'm going to look at what each team did over deadline week and whether or not if fulfilled their individual goal of buying to actively improve their chances at winning right now or selling to improve their position in the future. 

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What does Toronto look like without Matt Hunwick?

Adam Laskaris
March 08 2016 02:15PM

Matt Hunwick is kind of like the NHL-level equivalent of a rent-a-player. He plays a lot, but mostly because he's willing to and physically can, not because he's exceptionally talented. Today, it was announced Hunwick was shut down for the rest of the season with a sports hernia injury. Frankly, Toronto might be better off without him.

There's a lot of things to like about Hunwick- he's an assistant captain, praised as a good leader by his teammates, and brings a veteran presence to a young team. But Hunwick might be the worst regular player on the team, and with the Leafs currently being at the bottom of the NHL standings, he's probably in consideration for the bottom few percentage points of NHL talent in the league. And yet, he's not just a regular - he's picked up the second most ice time on the team at 5v5 this year, less than only Morgan Rielly, his most common defensive partner. 

With Hunwick out of the lineup, the Leafs lose a TOI monster. But looking at how the team performs without Hunwick, that might not be the worst thing for a team on a five-game slide. Of course, wins at this point don't matter much as the Leafs are draft lottery-bound, but from a purely statistical standpoint, Hunwick's absence makes the Leafs a far better hockey team.

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The Good and Bad of Trade Deadline Week 2016: Atlantic Division

Cam Lewis
March 05 2016 05:00PM

Well, that was a really boring trade deadline. I guess we can't be too surprised, as the salary cap has pretty much eliminated the possibility of legitimate, blockbuster hockey trades, essentially turning deadline day into a barren wasteland yard sale for slightly above average rental players to be sold off for mid-round draft picks. So in order to make this somewhat interesting, I figured I would take a look at the good and the bad of what we should now be referring to as 'deadline week,' as a good chunk of the major moves came days before TSN and Sportsnet put on their annual feature where they tried really hard to convince us that a flood of exciting deals always come in the afternoon.  

The Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers were the only two active buyers over deadline week in the Atlantic Division. Both of them dealt a handful of mid-round draft picks for rental players to increase their fly-by-night chances of going on a big run in a pretty wide open Eastern Conference. Aside from them, everybody else tried to sell or stood completely still. The Lightning didn't budge on Jonathan Drouin's trade request, so good on them, and the Senators and Sabres shocked fans of the AHL with a blockbuster seven-player deal. The Canadiens have officially waved the white flag, and the Leafs did exactly what we all expected, selling off on whoever they could in order to improve their chances at getting a high pick at this summer's draft. Let's get into it. 

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The Roundup

Nation World HQ
March 04 2016 05:30AM

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Trade deadline winners and losers, the Tank is really on in Toronto, Canucks hang onto Hamhuis amidst criticism, Jets have no Captain, Flames fleece the Stars, Todd McLellan goes Ham, the world's best unsigned prospect, World Cup rosters and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by DraftKIngs.

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