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NHL Power Rankings: 31 Unofficial Mid-Year Awards Edition

Sportsnet logo Sportsnet 2019-01-09 Luke Fox
a group of baseball players standing on top of a field © Frank Gunn/CP

Let’s take it back to community soccer for six-year-olds.

Today, everyone’s a winner!

As the NHL rounded the 41-game mark of the 2018-19 season, we held an untelevised, sparsely attended, highly unauthorized awards ceremony in our garage. Each club walked away a winner.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present our NHL Power Rankings: 31 Unofficial Mid-Year Awards Edition.

Per tradition, the teams are ranked in order of which ones we believe are the most awesome at this very moment.

The write-ups reveal the recipients of our mid-point trophies.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Sword of Sheer Dominance, presented to the Lightning, for going on a 16-game point streak that increased their Presidents’ Trophy lead to eight points and puts them on pace for a ridiculous 129-point campaign.

2. Vegas Golden Knights

Two-Trick Pony Award, to the Golden Knights, whose resurgence puts them in the running for another Pacific Division crown and proves last year was no fluke.

3. Calgary Flames

Clark Kent Award, to David Rittich, who went from a mild-mannered AHL performance in 2017-18 to a bulletproof 15-4 mark and .921 save percentage with the big club, making up for Mike Smith’s decline (.886 save percentage).

4. Washington Capitals

Star Player Most Taken for Granted Award, to John Carlson, who for the second consecutive season is struggling to find his way into the Norris chatter, despite putting up 39 points and a plus-22 rating in 40 games, drawing the tough matchups, and living up to his juicy new contract.

5. Winnipeg Jets

Hot Stick/Cold Stick Award, to Patrik Laine, who sniped three in October, 18 times(!) in November, then just three in December.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

False Fall-Apart Award, to the Penguins, who are too good, too determined to remain in the conference basement, where — believe it or not — they were mired at the season’s quarter mark.

7. Nashville Predators

The “Shoot the Puck!” Award, to top centre Ryan Johansen, a fabulous setup man but one who might wish to mix up a shot once in a while after scoring eight times to go with 28 assists.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

Scorers Run Deep Award, to the Maple Leafs, for dressing six players on pace for 50-point campaigns at the halfway mark and six with at least 10 goals already.

9. Boston Bruins

Terrifying Tandem Trophy, to Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask, who have split Bruins starts 22-21; each has a minimum of 12 wins and a save percentage of .920 or better.

10. San Jose Sharks

Tortoise and the Hare Award, to Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, who took their sweet time getting into the race. Now one (Burns) leads all D-men in points, and the other (Hot Karl) just broke a franchise record with his 14-game point run.

11. New York Islanders

The Tidy Turnaround Trophy, to the Isles, who are on the right course after cleaning house, bringing in winners Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, and back to packing games at Nassau Coliseum.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets

The “Time Is Now” Commemorative Watch, awarded to the Blue Jackets, who find themselves swirling in a perfect storm with their two best players, Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky and leading scorer Artemi Panarin, on expiring contracts and a fan base desperate for its first playoff series victory.

13. Minnesota Wild

Most Average Team Plaque, to the Minnesota Mild, a solid but thin and aging squad who refuses to bottom out for a rebuild or reach legit contender status.

14. Colorado Avalanche

Most Productive Line in Hockey Award, to Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, who have combined for 180 points — narrowly edging Calgary’s top trio (168 points).

15. Montreal Canadiens

Blessing Disguised as Punishment Ribbon, to Carey Price, who must sit a game for skipping All-Star Weekend but would be best served by sitting one anyway because the Canadiens have a back-to-back immediately after the break anyway.

16. Dallas Stars

The Golden Megaphone, awarded to CEO Jim Lites, for putting his best two players on mega-blast and giving hockey media weeks of juicy fodder.

17. Buffalo Sabres

Oceans 53 Award, to GM Jason Botterill, who pulled off a heist of cinematic proportions by swiping Jeff Skinner from Carolina and, as a result, has a chance to bust his city’s playoff drought.

18. Carolina Hurricanes

Shortest Shelf Life Award, to Dougie Hamilton, a 25-year-old, point-producing, right-shot defenceman who finds himself in trade rumours and possibly headed to his fourth team already.

19. Florida Panthers

Crippling Injury Award, to star Vincent Trocheck, who has missed more than half of his club’s games, leaving them dangerously thin up the middle and causing Alexsander Barkov’s legs to burn.

20. Edmonton Oilers

Most Likely to Get Robbed of Back-to-Back Hart Trophies Because His Team Can’t Make the Playoffs Award, to Connor McDavid.

21. Anaheim Ducks

Death by Slumps Award, to the injury-plagued Ducks, who have already endured separate losing skids of seven and eight games.

22. Vancouver Canucks

Calder Trophy, to Elias Pettersson, because why wait till June to acknowledge the obvious.

23. New Jersey Devils

A New Hope Award, to goaltending call-up Mackenzie Blackwood, whose .947 save percentage helps us forget that Cory Schneider hasn’t won a regular-season game since 2017.

24. New York Rangers

Glengarry Glen Ross Award, to GM Jeff Gorton, who must remember his ABC’s (Always Be Closing) as he goes full salesman mode with Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and whoever else in advance of the NHL trade deadline.

25. Chicago Blackhawks

How the Cap Will Ultimately Destroy You Award, to the poor Blackhawks, whose Core Four (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook) are all over 30 and scheduled to make big bucks four more seasons beyond this troublesome one.

26. St. Louis Blues

The Good-on-Paper Certificate, to the Blues, who seemingly did a decent job resetting its roster from the middle out but have failed to deliver on that promise.

27. Arizona Coyotes

Unlikeliest Goal Leader Award, to — wait for it — 33-year-old depth centre Brad Richardson, the Coyotes pace-setter with 11 tucks.

28. Detroit Red Wings

Man on an Island Award, to the ridiculous Dylan Larkin, who far and away leads the Wings in goals, points, PIMs, shorthanded points and OT game-winners.

29. Los Angeles Kings

We Immediately Regret Our Decision Award, to GM Rob Blake, who paid $18.75 million to a 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk and whose team ranks dead last in offence (2.23 goals per game). Kovalchuk has been benched, injured and ranks 181st in goals.

30. Philadelphia Flyers

The “If You Thought I Was Savage in 2018, Buckle Up…” Award, to Gritty, for this:

31. Ottawa Senators

The New Rock Bottom Award, to the Senators, who are on track to secure the best odds for winning the Jack Hughes lottery on behalf of Colorado and whose downtown arena plans are, at best, on shaky ground.

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