The PHWA released their midseason awards yesterday. Last season, the Lightning were all over the ballot with Nikita Kucherov winning the Hart, Andrei Vasilevskiy winning the Vezina, Jon Cooper nominated for the Jack Adams, and Victor Hedman nominated for the Norris. The writers seem to have a bit of Lightning fatigue this season as the only person from the organization to finish in the top three of the voting was Hedman for the Rod Langway award, which goes to the best defensive defender and isn’t even an official NHL award.
Hedman is tied for third in WAR among defenders and considering he’s been nominated for the Norris three consecutive seasons, it’s surprising he didn’t find his way on to the ballot again for this exercise The nomination for the Langway is strange as his offensive impacts are much greater than his defensive impacts. And while he’s reliable shorthanded, his power play prowess is part of what makes him such a great player. Frankly, the Langway nomination seems like a cop out as a way to keep him in the conversation for an award while putting some new names on the midseason Norris list.
Outside of Hedman, the Lightning have at least two other players who should have been in consideration. We wrote yesterday about Brayden Point’s case to be in the Hart conversation. And in perhaps the most egregious oversight, Anthony Cirelli didn’t make the top three for Selke voting.
In fairness, several prominent writers shared that they did vote for Cirelli so perhaps he was just on the outside of the top three. Chicago writer Mark Lazarus and friend of the blog Charlie O’Connor from Philadelphia both had Cirelli on their ballots.
The lack of award buzz around Lightning players fits with the theme of the rest of the season. The hockey world is treating the team as the boys who cried wolf after dominating the regular season and then getting swept in the first round of last year’s playoffs. I’m not sure anything this team does will get anyone interested enough to take notice until the playoffs start. And so no matter how well the players perform this season, they’ll have a tall mountain to climb in order to be considered for individual awards.
The injury Scott Wedgewood suffered on Tuesday appears to be not as the serious as the preview one that kept him out for an extended period. That would be good news for the Crunch who have had goaltending issues all season.
Wedgewood update from Stacy Roest: unavailable this weekend, day-to-day after all-star break.— Syracuse Hockey (@syrhockey) January 24, 2020
Over in Orlando, the Solar Bears picked up a much needed win over the Jacksonville Icemen 5-3. Recently reassigned forward Jimmy Huntington opened the scoring with a goal.
Other Hockey News
According to Michael Russo, Erik Haula is on the outs with the Canes organization. Haula was one of the players who broke out with the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season. He suffered an injury last season that cost him most of the year and then the Knights traded him to the Canes as part of their cap space clearing process last summer.
He only makes 2.75 million per season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. In the year before his injury, he scored nearly 30 goals. He’s always been a solid play driver even going back to his time in Minnesota before Vegas took him in the expansion draft.
For teams looking to acquire depth at the trade deadline but with limited cap space, he could be an attractive target. The Lightning seem to have plenty of forward depth but if they’re looking for another option to slot in on the third line, Haula certainly fits the bill both in terms of skill set and price.