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What are the chances the Flyers land an individual trophy this season?

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NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers are the midst of a playoff push and a lot of that can be credited to a few great individual seasons. Claude Giroux’s 2016-17 season seems like the distant past, as he currently sits fourth in the entire NHL with 80 points in 68 games. Shayne Gostisbehere is tied for fourth with 50 points among all defensemen, is one of 18 d-men with ten goals or more, and has improved his defensive play. Sean Couturier’s 63 points in 68 games is a pleasant surprise and his nearly 30-goal season is a big reason why the Flyers sit where they do in the standings.

Jakub Voracek is also having a monster season, as he is tied with Giroux and Blake Wheeler for most assists in the league, but this article isn’t about him. It’s about how likely Giroux, Gostisbehere, and Couturier win the individual trophies they are currently being mentioned with. To do this, I looked at the last decade of voting as well as the players who could win the trophy instead of our Flyers to see just how realistic it is that Giroux wins the Hart, Gostisbehere wins the Norris, and Couturier wins the Selke.

Looking at the Hart Trophy voting since 2007-08, it seems like the voters like high point totals, high goal totals, separation in point totals between the Hart winner/nominee and the player who finished second on their team in scoring, and players on teams making the postseason. Let’s take a look at the lowest total any of the Hart Trophy winners posted in key statistical categories since the 2007-08 season:

Lowest Totals For Hart Winners Since 2007-08

Points Finish in Points Goals Finish in Goals More points than closest teammate
Points Finish in Points Goals Finish in Goals More points than closest teammate
98 3rd 29 26th 18
Corey Perry (2010-11) Corey Perry (2010-11) Henrik Sedin (2009-10) Connor McDavid (2016-17) Corey Perry (2010-11)

As it stands right now, Giroux has a few things working against him. For one, he most likely won’t have enough goals to gain attention from the voters. He is on pace to have perhaps enough points to earn the trophy, as he currently sits fourth in scoring (the lowest a player has ranked in points for a season and won the Hart was third) with 80 points and is on pace for 96 points. Corey Perry managed to take home the trophy with 98 points in the 2010-11 season, the lowest point total of any Hart Trophy winner in an 82-game season since 2007-08. Unfortunately, Perry won the trophy because he scored 50 goals and produced five more goals than Steven Stamkos, who finished second with 45 goals. Connor McDavid scored 30 goals last season and Henrik Sedin won in 2009-10 with 29 goals, but both players had astronomical assists totals. McDavid was the first player to post 70 assists in a single season since 2010-11 and Henrik was the first player to post 83 assists or more since 2006-07. With the lowest totals in an 82-game season to be nominated over the last ten seasons being 28 goals (Giroux in 2013-14), 81 points (Alex Ovechkin, who had 53 goals, in 2014-15), and a fourth-place finish in points (Ovechkin in 2014-15 again, Pavel Datsyuk in 2008-09), Giroux will most likely have a shot to still finish at least third in the Hart trophy voting.

Another reason why Giroux may not win the Hart is the difference in point totals between him and the second-leading scorer on the Flyers. With Jakub Voracek currently sitting at 73 points, Giroux only has a seven-point lead on the teammate closest to him in scoring. The smallest gap between a Hart trophy winner and his teammate who finished second on the team in scoring for an 82-game season was 18, when Perry had the help of Teemu Selanne’s 80-point campaign in 2010-11. Five of the 27 skaters nominated since 2007-08, however, have been separated by seven points or less between them and the closest teammate.

Also hurting Giroux is the fact that Shayne Gostisbehere is being talked about as a Norris Trophy nominee and that Sean Couturier is having a widely-recognized breakout season that could result in winning the Selke, so it’s visible he has some help around him.

This year’s voting is still pretty wide open, as a handful of players have a legitimate argument to, at least, be nominated for the Hart.

Nikita Kucherov will most likely be nominated (if not win it), since he is most likely going to win the Art Ross Trophy. Considering over the last ten seasons the only two Art Ross Trophy winners who weren’t nominated for the Hart were Martin St. Louis in 2013 and Jamie Benn in 2014-15, Kucherov is probably one of the three finalists even though he has under a ten-point lead on Steven Stamkos, who is second on the Lightning with 78 points.

Two common names that seem to be thrown around with Kucherov are Nathan MacKinnon and Taylor Hall. MacKinnon checks off a few boxes (40 goals is still realistic, 13 more points than Mikko Rantanen), but the argument he has of being the main driving force on an otherwise mediocre team could be what does him in. The only player over the last ten seasons to earn a Hart Trophy nomination while being on a team that missed the playoffs was Steven Stamkos in 2011-12, when he scored 60 goals. The Avalanche are currently just outside the Western Conference playoff picture. If the Avs make the postseason, MacKinnon most likely earns a nomination.

As for Hall, he has 31 more points than Nico Hischier, who is second on the New Jersey Devils in scoring, and should still be able to reach 35 goals. The Devils are also a team that doesn’t have many names that jump out at you, so the fact they have made (what seems to be) a surprise return to the postseason this year helps Hall’s case. The one big knock on Hall’s argument is the fact he most likely won’t finish in the top five in scoring and could possibly be outside the top ten. Since 2007-08, every Hart Trophy winner who was a skater has finished third in scoring or better and every Hart Trophy nominee who was a skater has finished fourth in scoring or better with the exception of John Tavares in 2013.

A pair of familiar names are also in the running, as Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin are receiving some consideration for the Hart as well. Malkin has a strong case, since he will most likely eclipse 40 goals, possibly 100 points, and still has a chance to edge out Kucherov for the Art Ross Trophy. Ovechkin has a case to at least be nominated (40 goals already, which is 20 more than Evgeny Kuznetsov’s total, who is second on the Washington Capitals), but sitting outside the top ten in scoring hurts his chances of taking home the title.

Considering everything, Giroux most likely isn’t going to win the award, but he still has a chance of being nominated (especially if Colorado misses the postseason).

When it comes to winning the Norris over the last ten seasons, it seems as though the best way to be nominated is to rack up a ton of points. Of the 30 Norris Trophy nominees over the last decade, 19 have been a d-man who finished in the top three of scoring amongst defensemen with 12 of the last 15 nominees falling into this category. Eight of the ten winners finished in the top three of scoring among defensemen with the only exceptions being Zdeno Chara in 2008-09, when he averaged over 26 minutes of ice time per night as the best defenseman for the top-seeded Boston Bruins, and Drew Doughty in 2015-16, who won because It Was His Turn (even though Karlsson averaged a point per game in 82 games).

After last night’s action, Gostisbehere is tied with P.K. Subban for fourth among defensemen in terms of scoring with 50 points. It’s an impressive amount of points, but it may not be enough to put Gostisbehere ahead of a few other contenders for the Norris who have been there before.

As of March 1st, Drew Doughty (2/1 odds) and Subban (9/2) are two of the biggest favorites to take home the trophy and have won the trophy in the past. Subban has the point total to be in the running, and voters have overlooked Doughty’s low point totals in the past to let him win in 2015-16 (51 points was ninth among defensemen) and finish second in 2014-15 (46 points was 14th among defensemen).

The other two favorites who still have odds with Bovada are Victor Hedman (4/5) and John Klingberg (9/2). Hedman has a lot of things working for him, as he’s the best blue liner on the team with the most points in hockey, and finished third in voting last season. One argument against Hedman is he’s seventh among d-men in the NHL with 49 points. However, with no real clear favorite for the Norris this season, not being at the top of the league in scoring among defensemen may not be as negative on a d-man’s chances of winning as in other seasons.

As the best defenseman for a Dallas Stars team that is third in the league in terms of corsi against per 60 and second in expected goals against per 60, Klingberg is first among defensemen with 56 points in 67 games. Similar to Gostisbehere, Klingberg is starting to receive some attention for his all-around play after originally being marked as more of an offensive defenseman rather than a two-way defenseman. That being said, for him to win it feels as though he is going to need to pull further ahead in the points race if he wants to separate his name from Hedman, Doughty, and Subban. It doesn’t help that Brent Burns is still top three in terms of scoring among defensemen, even if his point total isn’t as gaudy as last season’s.

For the reasons listed above, it’s easy to see why Gostisbehere may struggle to see a nomination for the Norris Trophy barring a point surge in the final weeks of the season. If a player who currently leads all defenseman in scoring may struggle to win the trophy (or a nomination) because of recent trophy favorites also being at the top of the league in scoring, why would a similar defenseman who has a high-caliber defensive partner, is on the same power play with a possible Hart Trophy finalist, and doesn’t have as many points receive more votes?

It looks as though the time has finally come for Sean Couturier to have a serious chance to win the Selke. After years of being regarded as one of the better shutdown centers in the league, Couturier is finally putting up impressive offensive numbers as well, as he’ll most likely double his career highs in goals and points for a single season. Let’s take a look at how Couturier’s totals match up with the lowest totals of players to win or be nominated for the Selke Trophy since 2007-08:

Lowest Totals for Selke Nominees Since 2007-08

2017-18 Selke Points Finish in Points Goals Plus/Minus Finish in Plus/Minus Time on Ice Finish in Time on Ice (Forwards) Faceoff Percentage
2017-18 Selke Points Finish in Points Goals Plus/Minus Finish in Plus/Minus Time on Ice Finish in Time on Ice (Forwards) Faceoff Percentage
Selke Winner 53 68th 21 Plus-2 164th 17:59 94th 53.5
Selke Nominee 43 113th 16 minus-2 336th 17:59 94th 48.2

Couturier has already hit the minimum totals of each of the previous ten winners. The argument for why he may not win is...those previous winners.

Since Pavel Datsyuk took home the Selke in three straight seasons from 2007-08 to 2009-10, four players have won it: Ryan Kesler, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar. Those four players have earned 18 of the 30 nominations since the 2007-08 campaign, 16 of which have filled the 21 nominations since Datysuk’s last win.

Reputation may help edge out a close race in the Hart or Norris voting, but when it comes to Selke voting reputation plays a much bigger role. Regardless of the numbers in each season, voters keep coming back to these four players. Bergeron, who has won four of the last six Selkes, won last year with 21 goals and 53 points, which was good enough for 68th in points among forwards last season. He also won in 2015, when his 55 points was good for 58th among forwards. The feeling is Bergeron is the leader in the clubhouse to win yet again, despite the fact his 54 points in 55 games puts him 47th among forwards in scoring and he hasn’t played since February 25th.

Along with reputations, advanced statistics probably play a bigger role in Selke voting than most of the other individual awards. In terms of 5-on-5 play between him and The Big Four mentioned above, Couturier leads the group in goals (16), primary points (31), expected goals for percentage (55.13), relative expected goals for percentage (7.8), and penalty differential (plus-12). He’s also tied with Kopitar in terms of points (36), and with Bergeron when it comes to primary points per 60 (1.88) and individual expected goals for per 60 (0.88).

Thanks to Kesler missing half the season and Toews not having the best statistical season (as well as the Chicago Blackhawks most likely missing the postseason), Couturier should at the very least be nominated for the Selke. Kopitar has more points than Couturier, but the Flyer has more goals and is better in several key advanced statistics categories. If it comes down to Couturier and Bergeron, Couturier has the edge in almost every statistical category and should be the favorite to win the trophy.