Now that the regular season is officially finished and we’re on our way towards the playoffs, the league and player’s association will be releasing the finalists for the major awards this week. First up is the Ted Lindsay Award, given to “the most outstanding player in the NHL” as voted on by members of the NHLPA.
It’s hard to not see Draisaitl as the favorite in this vote, given his pure dominance at the offensive end of the rink this season. The 2019-20 Art Ross Trophy winner with 110 points in just 71 games, Draisaitl eclipsed even teammate Connor McDavid in Edmonton and proved that he could be a force of his own. With 43 goals he came fourth in the Rocket Richard race while logging nearly 23 minutes a night for the Oilers. Draisaitl now has exactly 422 points in his 422-game NHL career and is one of the premier talents in today’s game.
Not to be outdone is MacKinnon, who has been a finalist for the award in the past. The Colorado Avalanche powerhouse recorded his third-straight season with at least 90 points, this time tallying 93 in just 69 games. MacKinnon led the entire league in shots on goal with 318 and was once again the engine that drove the Avalanche to the playoffs. While some critiqued the 2013 first-overall pick for a slow start to his NHL career, the last three years have been proof that he is one of the elite offensive weapons in the league and will likely contend for awards such as these many more times.
Panarin’s story is a little bit different than those of Draisaitl and MacKinnon, though he is certainly their equal in terms of skill and offensive prowess. Some of the respect he has received from his peers today may come from his situation however, as Panarin’s New York Rangers were an afterthought for much of the season. With Mika Zibanejad as his only real star-powered help up front, Panarin managed to record 95 points in 69 games (36 more than the third-place Ranger) and drag New York to a playoff qualification round. Sure, the team may be a long-shot to win the Stanley Cup in the early years of their rebuild, but for the 20 minutes of ice time he logs each night the Rangers know they usually have the best player out there.