- Matthew Coller, ESPN Insider
With 102 points and a commanding lead over the next best point producer, there is little doubt that Sidney Crosby will run away with the Hart Trophy for Most Valuable Player in the NHL. But the Hart race is the only one that will not come down to the wire.
The league's awards for top defenseman, goaltender and defensive forward will all be a photo finish. As the mainstream media continues to adopt advanced statistics more and more, will they use them when considering who should take home these trophies? If so, what will they find?
Note: Each player's rating in goals versus threshold (GVT) is presented here. For more on GVT, click here.
The award for top defenseman is the most difficult to project this season. The NHL benefits from a group of elite, do-it-all defenseman, many of whom had great seasons in 2013-14.
The epitome of an all-around D-man, Pietrangelo plays huge minutes against the opposition's top lines and is consistently a driving force for one of the NHL's best defensive clubs. He plays more than 50 percent of the Blues' power-play and penalty-kill time -- one of only 12 defenseman in the league to do so -- and is a possession driver, with a plus-2.9 relative Corsi. Pietrangelo's offensive production is simply icing on the cake, as he ranks eighth overall among blueliners in points.
One of Team Canada's top D-men at the Sochi Olympics, Keith has emerged as an elite offensive talent with 60 points in 79 games this season, which ranks second in the NHL to Erik Karlsson. The former second-round pick's passing ability drives Chicago's outstanding puck possession, and the Blackhawks' Fenwick close percentage is second only to that of the Los Angeles Kings. Keith plays big special-teams minutes, too. The only slight knock is that he is used as more of an offensive defenseman with a 57.3 offensive zone start percentage. But that criticism is very, very slight.
Two words: slap shot. Weber has the NHL's best, and it has been on display this season as he has netted 21 goals for the Preds. The tough, two-way defenseman is also in the 50-50 club, being used for more than half of his team's power-play and penalty-kill minutes. While his Corsi numbers are not as good as the other two candidates here, Weber gets a tougher draw with a mere 45.3 percent offensive zone start percentage.
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