With the 92nd Academy Awards this Sunday, all eyes will be on Hollywood as the biggest movie stars in the world get recognized for their achievements. It’s the time of year when cinefiles argue like they’re an armchair GM approaching the trade deadline, while even the most peripheral movie fan will keep an eye on who wins the Oscar.
The NHL has their own set of awards - the Hart, Norris, Vezina, etc. - that they give out every June, but what if they were to change things up and award players based on the Oscar categories?
Like with NHL fandom, as the Academy awards approach, everyone has their opinion as to which movie should win all the awarded - and they’re going to make sure they share it with you. To wit, here are my picks for this year’s NHL Oscars:
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Jarmo Kekalainen (CBJ), Joe Sakic (COL), Doug Armstrong (STL), Jim Nill (DAL), Don Sweeney (BOS)
Winner: Doug Armstrong
As well as Joe Sakic has built this Avalanche team, Armstrong has done a better job in St. Louis. The defending Stanley Cup Champions are well on their way to the top seed in the Western Conference and have a legitimate chance of repeating their playoff run from a year ago. Armstrong has written the perfect script from the ground up and has turned his team into the envy of the league.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Don Waddell (CAR), Julian BrisBois (TBL), Lou Lamoriello (NYI), Jim Rutherford (PIT)
Winner: Julian BrisBois
BrisBois is the obvious winner here. He has taken the core built by Steve Yzerman, maneuvered though some very tough cap situations and maintained his team’s status as one of the best in the NHL. After a slow start, the Lightning are not among the best teams in the league and it’s thanks to the road map started by Yzerman but amended by BrisBois.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominees: Brad Marchand (BOS), John Carlson (WSH), Leon Draisaitl (EDM), Cale Makar (COL), Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA)
Winner: Leon Draisaitl
Leon Draisaitl is one of the top-5 offensive talents in the NHL and could end up winning the Art Ross Trophy. That said, he is most definitely not the leading man in Edmonton. Always playing second fiddle to Connor McDavid, Draisaitl is the type of supporting part that every team would kill for. Huberdeau would be a close runner up.
Nominees: John Tortorella (CBJ), Mike Sullivan (PIT), Jared Bednar (COL), Travis Green (VAN), Todd Reirden (WSH)
Winner: Mike Sullivan
This was the year the Pittsburgh Penguins were supposed to take a step back. They started the year with both Erik Gudbranson and Jack Johnson on their blue line and certainly looked like a team that wasn’t equipped to compete in the dangerous Eastern Conference. Add to that the fact that both Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel have all missed significant time with injury and one could easily see the Penguins near the top of the lottery this season.
Best Costume Design
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Auston Matthews (TOR), PK Subban (NJD), David Pastrnak (BOS), Jared Bednar (COL)
Winner: Auston Matthews
He likes to be known as the Russell Westbrook of the NHL and his style certainly reflects that.
Nominees: Connor McDavid (EDM), David Pastrnak (BOS), Jack Eichel (BUF), Nathan MacKinnon (COL), Artemi Panarin (NYR)
Winner: Nathan MacKinnon
The Oscars have a tendency to reward actors and filmmakers years after they originally deserved it. Leonardo DiCaprio won his Academy Award for what is likely his fifth best performance, Martin Scorsese won for his tenth or eleventh best firm and it’s going to happen again then Adam Driver inevitably wins for a performance that isn’t nearly as good as Marriage Story.
Nathan MacKinnon should have won the league’s top individual award two seasons ago. In 2018, he was the leagues MVP when he was able to drag the Avalanche to the playoffs only a year after they were the laughingstock of the league. Inexplicably, he lost the award to Taylor Hall. He won’t be robbed again this year.
Winner: Nathan Gerbe
I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Standing only 5’4” tall, the one time Buffalo Sabres thought his NHL career was over after spending the last four years bouncing between the AHL and the Swiss League. Now, he’s back in the NHL and his eight points in 18 games has been a huge contribution to the recent success in Columbus. The Blue Jackets rewarded him this past weekend with a two-year extension.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Nominees: Gabriel Landeskog (COL), William Nylander (TOR), Erik Karlsson (SJS), Brent Burns (SJS)
Winner: Brent Burns
As if there could be any other winner.
Nominees: Playoff parity, Ovechkin pursuit of 700, Battle of Alberta, Andrei Svechnikov’s lacrosse goals, Seattle’s emergence
Winner: Ovi’s quest for history
As fun as the Battle of Alberta has been this season, it doesn’t compete with out chance to watch something that may never happen again. Alex Ovechkin came into this season having scored 658 goals in his NHL career - closing in on the elusive 700 club that until this point has only had seven members (Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Jaromir Jagr, Brett Hull, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito and Mike Gartner). Through 53 games this season, Ovi is now up to 698 and it’s only a matter of time before he far eclipses the 700 mark.
Having turned 34 this past September, Ovi’s career is far from over. He’ll hit the top-5 in all time scoring by next season and needs less than 200 goals to pass Gretzky’s record of 894. After this season, if he averages 32 goals a season until his 40th birthday, Ovi will have lit the goal light more than anyone in league history. That’s a tall task as a player ages, but with 40 goals in only 53 games this season, the Great Eight doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
What we’re witnessing is one of the greatest achievements in NHL history. Watch it. Embrace it. Recognize it for what it is - historical greatness. He may never get to 895, but that shouldn’t take away from recognizing him as the best goal scorer to ever play the game.
Listen to the new episode of our At Elevation Podcast. This week we discuss the success of the second line, preview the Stadium Series game and answer some of your questions.
February 7, 2020