FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The NHL All-Star break is not the halfway point of the season, with teams having played around 50 games apiece so far. But it is a natural midpoint to stop and survey the landscape.
That means taking stock of the awards races, which will start to come to the forefront as we get to the season’s final 10 weeks. The Post enlisted its hockey writers to mail in our ballots early. So without further ado, here they are.
(Most Valuable Player)
Mollie Walker: Connor McDavid, Oilers
Leading the NHL in goals (41), sitting in second in assists (51) and towering over the rest of the league by 16 points with 92, McDavid is well on his way to his third Hart Trophy in eight years. McDavid has gone without a point in just five games this season. He’s on a historic pace, and it’s hard to imagine any player being more important to his respective team this season.
Larry Brooks: McDavid
He would have lapped the field by now if not for Jack Hughes’ long-shot, insurgent candidacy.
Ethan Sears: McDavid
It is a race for second at this point, with McDavid’s 92 points putting him 16 ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl. This looks like McDavid’s best season in a career that has already seen him win this trophy twice.
Walker: Connor Hellebuyck, Jets
The Bruins’ Linus Ullmark is certainly in the conversation, but his effective tandem with Jeremy Swayman may taint his chances. Jake Oettinger of the Stars is in the mix as well. On the other hand, Hellebuyck, as the Jets’ No. 1 goalie, will likely finish with a larger workload than Ullmark, and he’s arguably had more of a challenge night after night than Oettinger.
Brooks: Linus Ullmark, Bruins
No one has been better than Ilya Sorokin, but there’s no telling what the general managers who vote for this award will do. But Boston’s Ullmark is likely in the lead.
Sears: Ilya Sorokin, Islanders
No one has been more important to his team in net than Sorokin, who has repeatedly bailed out an Islanders squad that just can’t score. There is a case for Ullmark, but Sorokin has done it without strong play in front of him every night.
Walker: Erik Karlsson, Sharks
The Rangers’ Adam Fox still has time to catch up, but Karlsson has been a Norris front-runner all season long. Leading all NHL defensemen with 66 points, Karlsson is on pace for 106 points this season, despite playing for a struggling team alongside AHL journeyman Jaycob Megna.
Brooks: Adam Fox, Rangers
Fox has reestablished supremacy on the back end, but look out for Karlsson, who is putting up points at a rate out of the 1980s.
Karlsson has done the impossible and made his contract look almost palatable by putting up 50 assists so far this season. Fox may yet make a run at his second Norris Trophy in three years, but Karlsson has a clear lead right now.
(Rookie of the Year)
Walker: Logan Thompson, Golden Knights
Thompson became the first rookie goaltender to be chosen for the NHL All-Star Game since 2016, when the Ducks’ John Gibson did it. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has posted a 19-13-3 record with a 2.69 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He was the rookie of the month in November.
Brooks: Matty Beniers, Kraken
Beniers, on one side of the U.S., has the edge on Buffalo’s Owen Power, on the other.
Sears: Owen Power, Sabres
It doesn’t look as if Power will beat out his former Michigan teammate Beniers, but the defenseman has shown why he was picked first overall by averaging 23:38 ice time for the Sabres with stalwart play on a nightly basis.
(Top defensive forward)
Walker: Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
Every season it seems like the Selke is Bergeron’s to lose, and this season is no different. It’s another season on a deadly line facing the toughest matchup assignments in the NHL for Bergeron, who has been on the ice for just one goal against in his last 10 games. The Flames’ Mikael Backlund is in the conversation, but Bergeron simply plays a bigger role for Boston.
The Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad has the game, but not the reputation necessary in this particular balloting.
At age 37, Bergeron is on pace to add a sixth Selke Trophy, and second in a row, to his cabinet.
Jack Adams Award
(Coach of the Year)
Walker: Jim Montgomery, Bruins
The Bruins have been the story of the season as they continue to tear through the NHL week after week. From starting 2022-23 with injuries to key players and an aging core, Montgomery has coached the Bruins to the best record in the league — an absurd 39-7-5 — in his first season on the job.
By acclimation at this point, with Dave Hakstol of the Kraken a consideration.
The Bruins could challenge records for the most wins and points in a season. That makes Montgomery, who took over a team that looked over the hill, the runaway favorite.