Predictions for the 2016-17 Jack Adams Trophy
The 2016-17 NHL season is coming to a close and what better way to cap off the year by taking a look at the front runners for the NHL Award winners? The Awards ceremony, held in Las Vegas, does not take place until after the Stanley Cup has been hoisted, but there is no harm in getting our predictions in now.
The Jack Adams Trophy is an annual award given to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success. The winner is selected in a poll among members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association at the end of the regular season
Joel Quenneville: Chicago Blackhawaks
The Blackhawks have made the playoffs in every year since he took over the job in the 2008-2009 season. They have won three championships with the team over that period. Chicago is considered to be a perennial contender to win the cup each season; just look at the Vegas spreads for this season.
Quenneville is considered one of the top coaches in the league. But he has never won a Jack Adams award during his tenure in Chicago. Turns out having players such as Jonathon Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane (among others) actually hinders your chances to win the award; Its hard to gauge the coaches impact on a team with proven winners.
Quenneville coached Chicago to a 50-22-7 record. With 107 points, the Hawks have already clinched the Western Conference.
But Quenneville has won the award once before when he was coaching with the St. Louis Blues in the 1999-2000 season. This is significant, because only five coaches have ever won the award twice: Jacques Lemaire, Pat Quinn and Scotty Bowman all won it twice. Pat Burns was the only person to win it three times; Jacques Demers is the only coach to have won it twice in a row.
The bottom line?
It is unlikely that Quenneville will join their ranks this season, despite another tremendous year at the helm for Chicago.
Todd McLellan: Edmonton Oilers
In any other season, Todd McLellan would be a lock for the Jack Adams award. After all, the Oilers 97 points this season is the most they have had since the 2005 when they lost the Stanley Cup final.
In addition to historic point totals, McLellan has also led the Oilers to their first playoff birth in ten years. Something that is not taken lightly in the city of Edmonton.
Yes, having Connor McDavid, as a member of your team helps you get a couple of wins, but the Oilers had struggled to contend with top overall draft picks in the last ten years. Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t get them there. Under McLellan, the Oilers are in the post-season.
If the Oilers do break 100 points, which is likely, McLellan would become the first Oilers head coach not named Glen Sather, to reach that mark with the franchise. And he deserves all the credit in the world for changing the attitude in Edmonton to a winning one.
But this is not a normal year, and there are a pair of coaches who have done more with less than the Edmonton bench boss.
John Tortorella: Columbus Blue Jackets
When the year started off, nobody was sure what to make of John Tortorella. With Torts at the helm, Team USA got steamrolled at the world cup of hockey ending up with a 0-3 record and not advancing out of the group.
Questions began to arise about his future. Could Tortorella rebound from the uncharacteristic showing, and help Columbus make the playoffs?
Boy did he shut up the haters.
Columbus set a franchise record going on a 16 game win streak; A streak that nearly broke the 1992-1993 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL record for most consecutive wins which stands at 17.
With the same core in tact, Tortorella got more out his players than his predecessor Todd Richards. The Jackets, with three games remaining, have locked up a playoff spot with 106 points (49-22-8). Perhaps more impressive, Torts’ squad kept pace with the Capitals, Penguins and Rangers all year in a division race that came down to the last two weeks of the season.
Prior to this season, the Jackets organization has only made the playoffs once in the last ten years.
However, Tortorella has not been able to get the Jackets power play back on the roll which it started the season. In the new year, they have operated at only 12.4%. A monumental drop off from the nearly 30% efficiency which they opened up the season. Special teams is an area where coaching influence can be felt the most. Which is why the award goes to…
Mike Babcock: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple leafs finished last season in last place in the league, with a 29-42-11 record. Leaf fans will remember the promises from Babcock that there would be growing pains as the organization carefully planned their rebuild. Just a year later the Leafs are a different team.
Toronto is poised to clinch a playoff birth, for the second time in the last twelve seasons (the only other was in the shortened lockout season in 2012-2013). And if the Leafs get in, which it seems they will, Babcock deserves the award.
If Toronto makes the playoffs (which is not a sure thing when talking about the Leafs) they will be the first team since the 2006-2007 Flyers to finish in last place, then make the playoffs the following season. And Toronto has already surpassed their season total of points a year ago by 24.
Since January 1st, Toronto has accrued 54 points. That leaves them behind only Washington, Anaheim and Chicago.
Yes, a first overall draft pick of Auston Matthews, who looks to be the front runner for the Calder Trophy, helps to expedite the project of rebuilding the franchise. But Babcock has been able to get tremendous production out of a number of rookies: William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Connor Brown to name a few.
Not to mention the fact that he has never won the award. As the Jack Adams is voted on by the Broadcasters Association, this plays a factor in the voting; As Babcock is considered a top coach in the league who has never won it, that will be taken into consideration from the voters. With Torts having won the award with Tampa Bay already, this gives another edge to Babcock.