With all teams passing the 20 games, this 2022-23 NHL season marks the end of the year’s first quarter. NHL expert picks couldn’t predict this, but from teams like the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins starting the year with great streaks to the Seattle Kraken going from a bottom-five team to a top-five team (by points), this season has been quite interesting so far.
Outside of team play, some individuals have stood out to start the year, and with that comes the first quarter season awards for players. From MVP to Rookie of the year, below is a list of those awards for these first 20 games of the NHL season.
Hart Trophy – Jason Robertson
As of December 2nd, many would think that Connor McDavid’s start to the season would result in him still leading the league in goals and miles away in points. That isn’t quite the case, as Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson has entered the conversation. Through 24 games, Robertson has a three-goal lead as the leading scorer in the NHL with 22 goals and is just four points behind McDavid in total points.
In that same span, Robertson has scored most of his goals 5v5 with a total of 12, which leads the NHL. Also, as of December 2nd, Robertson has a 17-game points streak that includes 11 multipoint games. He has been, far and away, the most important player on his team and has helped his squad currently control the top spot in the Central Division. Keep an eye on Jason Robertson for the rest of the season.
Norris Trophy – Erik Karlsson
After some quieter last few seasons, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is having quite the resurgence that has fans reminiscing about his time with the Ottawa Senators. Despite the Shark’s struggles as a team, Karlsson is having one his best starts of a season in his career and is currently on pace for a career-high year with 35 goals and 101 points.
Through 26 games, Erik Karlsson has already surpassed his 2020-21 point totals and is just four points away from his last season’s total of 35 points. Currently sixth in points amongst all players, Karlsson’s 32 points lead all defensemen by five points and averages 1.23 points per game. Along with facts, he also leads all defensemen in goals (11) and assists (21).
Many may still look to Cale Makar and Adam Fox, but Erik Karlsson has been the best to this point of the season.
Vezina Trophy – Ilya Sorokin
While many could argue Linus Ullmark is the top goalie, Ilya Sorokin has been the most impressive, given the team between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders. Yes, Linus Ullmark leads all goalies with 13 wins, and in the GAA (2.00) and SV% (.935) categories, Ilya Sorokin isn’t far behind as he is seventh with ten wins, third in GAA (2.18) and second in SV% (.933).
Ilya Sorokin takes this trophy by comparing the two teams of Bruins and Islanders, as Sorokin truly is the main reason the Islanders are currently in a playoff spot. For example, the Bruins have better offensive support, with the league’s most at 3.95 goals per game, while the Islanders are currently 14th with 3.25 per game.
While Ullmark is having a great season, Ilya Sorokin is playing with less support and should again be a finalist in the Vezina voting this year.
Calder Trophy – Matty Beniers
This has been quite the race so far, from Logan Thompson to Shane Pinto getting much of the spotlight in this category at the start of the season, but now as the first 20 games have passed, Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken has taken over as the best rookie so far. Through 23 games, Beniers leads all rookies in points, goals, and assists and is second in points on the Seattle Kraken.
He is one of the main reasons why the Kraken have been successful so far and has the third-best shooting percentage amongst players with over 40 shots. He is a star in the making and a centerpiece in the Kraken’s lineup. Look for Beniers to continue to increase his stock in the Calder Trophy rankings throughout the season.