Patrice Bergeron does everything for the Boston Bruins.
The veteran center plays in every situation, provides consistent offense, shuts down opponents’ top forwards with elite defensive play, drives puck possession, wins faceoffs and plays a ton of minutes.
Bergeron has been a perennial Selke Trophy candidate as the league’s top defensive forward since 2010-11. He’s also been overlooked as a legit MVP candidate for far too long, but that might change this season.
Bergeron has a good chance to set a personal best in goals and could hit the 70-point mark for the second time in his career. This offensive production, in addition to Bergeron’s defensive brilliance (explained below), should vault him into the conversation as a potential Hart Trophy finalist as PHWA voters begin to fill out their ballots with the regular season winding down.
Here’s the NESN.com 2016 NHL Trophy Tracker, Vol. 1:
1. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
2. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
Kane should win the Hart rather easily. He leads the league with 92 points and ranks second in goals with 39. He’s already set career highs in points and goals, and he’ll probably add assists to that list before the season is over.
The Blackhawks lost some really important players in the offseason after winning the Stanley Cup, including a pair of top-six forwards in Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp and a top-four defenseman in Johnny Oduya. Kane has stepped up in their absence and is providing consistent scoring for Chicago.
James Norris Trophy
1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
3. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Karlsson is the overwhelming favorite. He’s on pace for 84 points, which would be the most by a defensemen since 1997-98.
He receives a lot of criticism — much of it unfair — for not playing defense well or not being physical enough for the position. But the Senators don’t have to defend much when Karlsson is on the ice. He drives puck possession with a 51.45 Corsi percentage during 5-on-5 play, but his Corsi relative percentage of 7.17 is tied for the second-best among D-men. That means Ottawa attempts seven percent more shots with Karlsson on the ice compared to his teammates.
Karlsson moves the puck up ice and puts it in the net, or sets up a teammate. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
1. Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
2. Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
3. Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers
Bergeron has won the Selke in back-to-back seasons, and he’s in line for a three-peat.
The following chart gives a good look at how all the worthy Selke candidates compare. The goal is to be in the top left corner with the largest bubble and the darkest shade of blue. That’s where the players who drive possession, play a lot of ice time and receive difficult zone starts are located.
Bergeron is the class of the group. He drives possession with a 7.97 percent Corsi relative (second-highest in the league) and faces the fifth-toughest competition at 5-on-5 among all forwards, evidenced by his 1.595 Corsi Rel QoC, per Behind the Net.
Bergeron also is an elite penalty killer who uses his positioning, faceoff skill and anticipation to clear the zone and keep the opponent from scoring. He and linemate Brad Marchand often create better scoring chances than the opponent’s power play.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
2. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
3. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
The Rangers aren’t a very good team despite being in a second or third place in the Metropolitan Division for most of the season. They have been without first-line winger Rick Nash for long stretches, their penalty kill has been awful, and their puck possession has been below 50 percent at 5-on-5.
Lundqvist has kept New York in the race with another stellar campaign. He has the best 5-on-5 adjusted save percentage (.938) of any goalie with 50 or more games played while also making the second-most saves (1,294) and high-danger saves (320) during 5-on-5 play.
Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in 36 of his 56 games played, which is extraordinary.
1. Artemi Panarin, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
2. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
3. Dylan Larkin, C, Detroit Red Wings
Panarin leads all rookies with 25 goals, 38 assists and 63 points in 72 games. Sure, he plays alongside Kane and is 24 years old, but there’s no question he’s been the most impressive first-year player. McDavid has a case to win the Calder centered around his incredible 1.05 point-per-game average, but he’s played in just 38 games. McDavid is the better forward, but Panarin’s body of work over a full campaign is a bit more impressive.
Jack Adams Trophy
1. Gerard Gallant, Florida Panthers
2. Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals
3. Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks
The Montreal Canadiens must regret letting Gallant leave to take the head coach job in Florida after the 2013-14 season. Gallant has helped guide the Panthers to an almost-certain playoff berth, as they currently lead the Atlantic Division by three points with nine games to go. He’s also been instrumental in the positive development of many young players in Florida, most notably Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad.
Trotz deserves serious recognition, as well. Coaches from Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams rarely win the Jack Adams, but Washington is having one of the best regular seasons of all time.
Thumbnail photo via Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports Images