Frozen Fantasy: 2021-22 Award Watch

Frozen Fantasy: 2021-22 Award Watch

This article is part of our Frozen Fantasy series.

I've had a lot of time to think, given all the PPDs. And my mind recently wandered to awards. So why not predict?

I won't bet on these. OK, I might on a few.

I might win a mother load on the Lady Byng. Let's take a look.

Hart (most valuable for his team) Alex Ovechkin. He's carried the Caps, who are aging quickly, to near the top of the East. Connor McDavid is a stud, but this is Ovechkin's year. We're witnessing history. Sit back and soak it in.

Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) Alex Ovechkin. Who else? The man is on a mission and he does it with a smile, even in his 17th NHL season. His peers will reward him. 

Vezina (best goalie) Andrei Vasilevskiy. He IS the Bolts. It's not Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov or Victor Hedman. Since Vasi went into COVID-19 protocols, the Bolts have been a train wreck. There's no goalie more valuable to his team. And his skills are truly special.

Norris (top all-round defender) Victor Hedman. His scoring this season – all of 2021, for that matter – has been outstanding. And he's done it without Nikita Kucherov on the ice. Add in Hedman's two-way dominance and he wins again.

Calder (top rookie) Trevor Zegras. This guy's vision is already elite among the elite. He's that special. He's going to outstrip Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider with ease.

I've had a lot of time to think, given all the PPDs. And my mind recently wandered to awards. So why not predict?

I won't bet on these. OK, I might on a few.

I might win a mother load on the Lady Byng. Let's take a look.

Hart (most valuable for his team) Alex Ovechkin. He's carried the Caps, who are aging quickly, to near the top of the East. Connor McDavid is a stud, but this is Ovechkin's year. We're witnessing history. Sit back and soak it in.

Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) Alex Ovechkin. Who else? The man is on a mission and he does it with a smile, even in his 17th NHL season. His peers will reward him. 

Vezina (best goalie) Andrei Vasilevskiy. He IS the Bolts. It's not Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov or Victor Hedman. Since Vasi went into COVID-19 protocols, the Bolts have been a train wreck. There's no goalie more valuable to his team. And his skills are truly special.

Norris (top all-round defender) Victor Hedman. His scoring this season – all of 2021, for that matter – has been outstanding. And he's done it without Nikita Kucherov on the ice. Add in Hedman's two-way dominance and he wins again.

Calder (top rookie) Trevor Zegras. This guy's vision is already elite among the elite. He's that special. He's going to outstrip Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider with ease.

Art Ross (top scorer) Connor McDavid. No one can touch him for this, unless he gets hurt. He's on track for almost 140 points.

Lady Byng (skill and sportsmanship) Alex Ovechkin. Seems impossible, but the guy has only six PIM heading into 2022. I know this seems impossible, but there's a first for everything. If not him, then Auston Matthews. But I want to believe.

Selke (best defensive forward) Aleksander Barkov. He won last year and he'll do it again. This once was Patrice Bergeron's award, and he'll get a nom. But his time is done.

Rocket Richard (top goal scorer) Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews (tie). Ovie set the NHL record for PPG (275) on New Year's Eve and has never looked better. Matthews has scored 61 goals in the 2021 calendar year, seven more than the next best guy (Leon Draisaitl). Ovie will secure the tie with a heroic effort in the last couple games.

Jack Adams (top coach) – Rod Brind'Amour. He'll be pushed by Dean Evason in Minny and Peter Laviolette in Washington. And Bruce Boudreau will give them a real scare, too. But Brind'Amour will prevail because of the Presidents' Trophy win.

Thoughts? Let's debate.

Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Alexander Barabanov, LW/RW, San Jose (4 percent Yahoo!) – I got Barabanov as a throw-in to that Brad Marchand/Sidney Crosby/Gabriel Landeskog trade I wrote about weeks ago. What a toss-in. Barabanov is riding shotgun with Timo Meier and Logan Couture on the Sharks' top line, and has seven points in his last eight games. And 12 shots, seven blocks and six hits. Those other categories aren't stellar, but a top-line guy is a top-line guy.

Ross Colton, LW/C, Tampa Bay (11 percent Yahoo!) – Colton has struggled to take a step forward from his impressive rookie effort last year. Until now. He's skating with Brayden Point and is on a modest three-game scoring streak (including two goals) heading into Sunday. He's also added 20 SOG, 11 SOG and eight hits, and that really increases his value in standard leagues. The lines in Tampa will realign when Nikita Kucherov returns and that will likely push Colton down to the third line (and Corey Perry, below, to the fourth). But right now, he's a top-15 Yahoo! forward. And he's available in nine-of-10 leagues.

Lawson Crouse, LW, Arizona (7 percent Yahoo!) – Crouse had the game of his NHL career Tuesday when he scored twice and added two helpers in a losing cause against the Sharks. It was a statement performance after missing five contests while in COVID-19 protocols. Crouse can't keep it up, but it did make me reminisce about the 2015 World Juniors, where he became a household name.

Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, Florida (52 percent Yahoo!) – My 2015 WJC memories continued with Duclair – he was dominant with Max Domi and Sam Reinhart. He hasn't lived up to that performance in the NHL, but he did notch his 100th goal Thursday night. A closer look and Duclair's 2021-22 is his best season yet. He took a two-game, four-point streak (three goals) into Saturday and it gave him 21 points in 23 games. Duclair is the one that got away for me – I had to drop someone last week in order to ice a team, and I chose him. Bad move. Don't be me.

Jaroslav Halak, G, Vancouver (12 percent Yahoo!) – Halak is one of the forgotten ones. The Canucks were abysmal early, so managers jettisoned all but the elite from their rosters. And the PPDs have helped us forget they're the hottest team in the NHL. Grab Halak now – he allowed just two goals in a loss to the Kings on Thursday. He's not long removed from his excellence in Boston, and Vancouver will need both goalies to get to the postseason. Get the jump now – pretty soon everyone will notice him, and goalies are always a hot commodity.   

Calle Jarnkrok, LW/RW, Seattle (1 percent Yahoo!) – Jarnkrok is finally warming up – seven of his nine points have come in the last six contests. I don't think it'll last, but you never know. Jarnkrok delivered his highest points-per-game rate last season (0.57) and now has a permanent role on a scoring line in Seattle. At minimum, he's an effective antidote to the rash of PPDs that have decimated so many rosters.  

Phil Kessel, RW, Arizona (12 percent Yahoo!) – Kessel channeled a little bit of his former 24-year-old scoring self on Tuesday night – those four helpers were old school Phil the Thrill. Sure, he has an average 21 points in 30 games this season. But strip out the first 14 and Kessel has 16 in 16. And six of those have come in his last two. Invest now before he's traded to a contender like the Oilers or Bruins. Rumor has it he'll land on a scoring line if he consents to an Edmonton deal (and Arizona picks up part of his contract).

Corey Perry, RW, Tampa Bay (16 percent Yahoo!) – Perry has morphed into a serviceable Jason Spezza type – a former star whose managed to stay relevant both on the ice and in the fantasy arena by changing his game. Perry is riding a four-game, five-point scoring streak heading into Sunday's rematch with the Rangers. That's a streak worth rostering.

Jaccob Slavin, D, Carolina (51 percent Yahoo!) – I've long loved this quiet, underrated defender – he'd be a Norris candidate if he only put up a few more points. Slavin doesn't focus on offense, but this season, that side of his game is blossoming. He's tracking toward a career offensive season – like a mid 40s finish. Add on 150 shots, 130 blocks and 75 hits, along with modest special teams output, and you have a must-roster defender on a very good team. Slavin might as well be padding your stats, not some other manager's.

Back to great performances.

I'm looking forward to the Winter Classic at Target Field. The first outdoor game set the standard back in 2003. I still remember Jose Theodore's toque – it was that cold.

The Blues and the Wild face off Saturday night in a situation so cold that the ice will need to be heated. Yes, you read that right.

So will the penalty boxes.

There are things that make for great – or memorable – performances. In a season of PPDs and continued COVID malaise, I think we're in for a real treat.

Until next week. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Eagleson
Janet Eagleson is a seven-time Finalist and four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. She is a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loved the OHL London Knights when they were bad and cheers loudly for the Blackhawks, too. But her top passion? The World Junior Hockey Championships each and every year.
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