NHL Predictions: 2023 NHL Awards – Hart, Vezina, Calder, Norris Trophies

2023 NHL Awards

Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one, breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. Today, in place of games, we’re predicting the winners of 2023 NHL Awards. Specifically, the Hart, Vezina, Calder, and Norris Trophies.  Come back tomorrow for predictions on the Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Jennings, and Selke Trophies. 

NHL Predictions: 2023 NHL Awards

Norris Trophy

2021-22 Winner: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Cale Makar was only 23 years old when he brought home his first Norris trophy last season. The fact that he was able to do so, despite being so young and despite playing such a difficult position, is a testament to just how truly remarkable he is at hockey. In 77 games, Makar averaged over 25 minutes a night, registered 86 points including 28 goals, and predictably dominated in all possession and goal-share metrics. He helped lead his team to a Stanley Cup Championship and quite frankly looks poised to do it again.

As a result, it’s difficult to predict anyone else taking Makar’s crown. Again, Makar was only 23 years old last year, which means that his performance is still on the incline. It’s scary to think what his prime years will look like, but the 2022-23 season will be another step in that direction.

Blue-liners such as Adam Fox, Victor Hedman, and even Moritz Seider, will all likely make strong cases in their own right, but Makar is the total package and has the team around him to propel him to a second straight Norris Trophy.

Predicted Winner: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Calder Trophy

2021-22 Winner: Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings

Seider received a lot of love for the Calder last season for his ability to perform spectacularly despite being given a huge role on an under-performing Detroit Red Wings team. He learned the ropes quickly, put up 50 points in 82 games, and quickly established himself as a top-pairing defender.

Considering the similar circumstances, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Owen Power could have a very similar year. Last season, we got only a tiny glimpse at Power, but the former number-one overall pick looked just as good as advertised. He only had three points in eight games, but he was playing more than 22 minutes per game and his possession rates were outstanding.

Now, in his actual rookie season, Power should be able to make even more noise. He has the size, pedigree, and experience to jump into an important role right away without being overwhelmed physically or mentally. He’s also going to get plenty of opportunity, as the Buffalo Sabres aren’t exactly bursting through the seams with depth on defence.

Matthew Beniers on the Seattle Kraken could be Power’s biggest challenger for the Calder Trophy, especially if he keeps up his near point-per-game pace from last season’s late-season cameo performance, but Power seems like the better bet to make a bigger impact at this point.

Predicted Winner: Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres

Vezina Trophy

2021-22 Winner: Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

By almost every single measure last season, Igor Shesterkin was the best goalie in the league. He essentially willed the New York Rangers into performing above expectations and got them all the way to the Eastern Conference Final. It was truly one of the better goaltending seasons we have seen in years.

Shesterkin will still be great, no doubt, but two MVP-calibre performances for a goalie in back-to-back seasons might be a bit too much to ask, and he may need another to win a second-straight Vezina. Considering that, there is a window here for someone else to take the crown.

In this case, there’s an obvious contender, someone who is a Vezina candidate almost every single season and will more certainly be again: Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy had another great campaign in 2021-22, playing a whopping 63 games, winning 39 of them, and backstopping the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t have quite as high of a save percentage as Shesterkin, but he was just behind him in terms of goals saved above expected, finishing second in the league.

The Lightning may not be as good as they were last year, but that will only help Vasilevskiy’s case as he cements himself as the team’s MVP and the league’s top goaltender once again.

Predicted Winner: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Hart Trophy

2021-22 Winner: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews unseated Connor McDavid as the league’s most valuable player in 2021-22, due to his amazing 60-goal campaign. There was a strong case to be made for either player to take home the trophy, but Matthew’s 60 goals was a feat that has become so rare that it was almost impossible for voters to ignore. That, plus the fact that McDavid’s already won the trophy twice, made the pendulum swing in Matthew’s direction.

This season, the pendulum swings back in McDavid’s direction. For starters, he’s coming off of a career-high 123-point season. That was good enough for the Art Ross Trophy last year. What’s crazy is that at age 25, this isn’t even McDavid’s peak. In the playoffs, we were witness to what that peak just might look like. McDavid exploded, scoring 33 points in only 16 games, as he lead the Edmonton Oilers to the Western Conference Finals.

There’s really no reason to think that McDavid is going to slow down much. No, he isn’t going to score 160 points, but would anyone be surprised at 130, especially with a full season of Evander Kane on his wing? Could he even get to 50 goals?

This season is a three-horse race for the Hart again, with all of McDavid, Matthews, and Makar making a push, but it’s really hard to bet against the best.

Predicted Winner: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Come back tomorrow for more 2023 NHL Awards and predictions!