Red Wings Most Likely to Compete for NHL Awards in 2022-23

The Hockey Writers

With the regular season kicking off this week and tons of preseason predictions floating around, I thought I’d take a look at which members of the Detroit Red Wings organization have the best chance to compete for the major NHL Awards at the end of the season.

Red Wings fans were spoiled with two real contenders for the Calder Trophy last season, an award given to the league’s best rookie, with both Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider coming out of the gate swinging. However, there wasn’t really much else to talk about in terms of awards favourites or finalists from Detroit.

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

That could all be changing as soon as this season with a handful of the team’s most influential figures poised to make the kind of impact that puts one in the awards conversation. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most likely winners and work our way to the ones that could technically happen (though they probably won’t).

Relatively Possible Award Winners

Steve Yzerman – GM of the year

Okay, I know that Red Wings fans are probably a little too trusting of the “Yzer-plan,” but they have their reasons. As soon as Yzerman joined the team, it was clear that he had a vision for how to tear down the roster to its bones and that he trusted the team’s amateur scouting staff to add future franchise cornerstones through the draft.

With a busy offseason seeing the team enter this season with greatly improved depth at every position, Yzerman has signaled that the tear-down is over and the part of the rebuild that translates into tangible winning has begun. Though much of Yzerman’s heavy lifting was done more than a year ago (drafting Seider, Anthony Mantha/Jakub Vrana trade, etc.), if the team manages to come together this season and push for a playoff spot, he will have a real chance at winning the NHL’s award for the general manager of the year.

Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings General Manager
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings General Manager (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I’m certain that Yzerman will get votes if the team ends the year in the playoff race, but he will be a finalist at least if the team manages to surprise the league and make the playoffs in a brutal Eastern Conference wild-card race. 

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His main competition will be Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames and Pierre Dorion of the Ottawa Senators, both of whom also had busy offseasons and who improved their teams a lot, at least on paper. If Calgary struggles a bit and the team’s newest additions don’t look like the all-star players that the Flames need them to be, then I can easily see Yzerman slipping in and stealing the award.

Derek Lalonde – Jack Adams Trophy

If the Red Wings shock the league and make the playoffs this year, I would be absolutely stunned if Derek Lalonde didn’t win the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s most outstanding head coach. Typically, this award is given to the coach of the team that outperformed expectations by the largest margin, and Detroit landing in the playoffs would certainly make him a favourite.

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Lalonde has coached at nearly every single level of hockey in North America and has succeeded at every step along the way. If he manages to rally this team to an impressive enough record that they make the playoffs in just his first season as an NHL head coach, he is a shoo-in in my books. 

There will certainly be excellent coaches whose teams play better than Detroit, but like I said, this award is more about preseason expectations being exceeded than it is about outstanding coaching. I think his main competition will be Lane Lambert, the new head coach of the New York Islanders who is also in his first season as an NHL head coach. If he can right the ship and bring the Isles back to the playoffs, he could win the Jack Adams Trophy as well.

Dark Horse Award Candidates

Moritz Seider – Norris Trophy

This one might be the simplest pick of all, though it is still rather unlikely in my opinion because of the season Seider would need to have to win over his competition. Cale Makar is a different animal and will likely score at will once again this season with Devon Toews, one of the league’s best defensive defensemen, by his side. Makar is the undisputed favourite, though players like Roman Josi, Victor Hedman, and Adam Fox are all going to have a chance as well.

So, what would it take for Seider to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman? He will have to take another huge step in his development in all aspects of his game. Seider’s defensive skills and potential are so incredible that his offensive results might not need to improve by much to put him in the Norris conversation.

If Seider scores about 60 points this year, 10 more than he managed as a rookie, and shows even more maturity and confidence on defense with a sturdier defensive partner in Ben Chiarot, he will garner some votes and attention, no doubt. If he turns into a true shut-down defenseman who dominates the rink and puts up 60-plus points, he could be the favourite by awards season.

Now, that’s a lot of “ifs,” which is why he’s here in the Dark Horse category. However, the kind of sophomore surge that Seider would need is not without precedent, with Makar and Fox taking massive steps forward in their sophomore seasons in very recent memory. If Seider can mimic that leap, he might just find himself on the NHL Awards stage once again next summer.

Dylan Larkin – Selke Trophy

The Selke Trophy is awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL each season, though it usually goes to a player who scored 70-plus points and who played lots of minutes on the penalty kill with at least decent results. Dylan Larkin was 20th in Selke voting following the 2018-19 season and most metrics show that he was nearly as good defensively last season as he was in the year he earned Selke votes, just with seriously improved offensive results.

The biggest reason that Larkin hasn’t built more of a reputation as a top-end, two-way centerman is a lack of penalty kill time. In that 2018-19 season, a 22-year-old Larkin played 99 minutes on the penalty kill, making him the fourth-most used penalty killer amongst Red Wings forwards for that season.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you compare that to last year where Larkin played just 36 minutes on the penalty kill, you can see that his increased offensive production has led to a serious decrease in the amount of time that the coaching staff was willing to use him in a defensive role. When the team has so few offensive players that they can rely on, you don’t want to run them into the ground by playing them 25-plus minutes every night.

I think Larkin has a chance to compete for the Selke Trophy this season because the weight of running the entire team offense has been lifted by the greatly improved depth at forward. If the Red Wings’ new coaching staff trusts their second line to provide consistent offense, they won’t be as shy about putting Larkin on the ice when they have a guy in the penalty box. If he can find his old form and earns a lot more minutes at 5-on-4, Larkin could certainly sneak into the Selke conversation. 

Lucas Raymond – Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

In his rookie season, Lucas Raymond scored 57 points in 82 games on Detroit’s top line, earning only 16 penalty minutes along the way. Penalty minutes are the main statistic in consideration for this award. If you score a lot of points and don’t take very many penalties, you’ll at least get a few Lady Byng votes. Only four of the players in the top 10 for Lady Byng voting last season had 16 or more penalty minutes with the other six all coming in below 16, so if Raymond can maintain his discipline and improve his offensive production, he will have a legitimate shot here.

For a forward to be considered a contender for this award, they typically need to score around 75-plus points over the course of a full season. That would be quite a step up in production for Raymond as a sophomore, but lots of ice time on the top line and the first power-play unit will make that a possibility. 

Lucas Raymond Detroit Red Wings
Lucas Raymond, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

His biggest competition for the award would likely be Kyle Connor, who won the award last season with 93 points and only four penalty minutes, though players like Auston Matthews, Elias Pettersson, and Jaccob Slavin could also be in the conversation next summer. 

Unlikely Award Winners

Dylan Larkin – Mark Messier Leadership Award

In the 16 years that this award has been handed out, 14 of the winners have been the captain of their team. That already means that Larkin has a roughly 1/32 chance of winning it. If the Red Wings can crack the postseason this year, he would have a very real chance of winning this award since being the captain of a surprisingly good team is also a common theme among past winners.

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Nobody has ever one this award twice, so in all likelihood, Larkin’s chances are further improved with Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron, and Jonathan Toews being unlikely candidates to repeat. With six NHL teams going into this season without a captain, that brings Larkin’s odds of winning the very meaningful and not at all irrelevant Mark Messier Leadership Award to roughly 1/22. I like those odds.

Elmer Söderblom – Calder Trophy

Elmer “The Towering Behemoth” Söderblom shocked most Red Wings fans (aside from my colleague Delaney Reimer) by making the NHL opening night lineup following an excellent showing in training camp and the preseason. 

His physical stature (records differ but it’s generally accepted that he’s roughly 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds) and excellent stick handling abilities make him an utterly unique player in the NHL. The 2019 sixth-round pick will be physically superior to just about everyone he lines up against in his rookie season, but we’ll have to wait and see if his high skill level will translate to offensive production in his first NHL season.

I’ve given up on predicting anything but success for Söderblom at this point so there’s a good chance he sticks it out in Detroit for much of the season. If he does, I’d expect him to contribute relatively consistently on offense, perhaps around 30 points. If he blows that out of the water (50-plus point range) and the rest of the field (Matty Beniers, Mason McTavish, Owen Power, Marco Rossi, etc.) are underwhelming, then Söderblom could compete, however unlikely that may be. 

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Moritz Seider – Hart Memorial Trophy

This biggest reason that this is unlikely is that it has been over 20 years since a defenseman has won the Hart trophy. There is often talk about how rarely goaltenders win the award, but there have been two goalies to win it in the last 20 seasons and no defender has won it since Chris Pronger did in 1999-2000. Let me be clear. I think it’s very possible that Seider deserves to win the Hart Trophy at some point in his career, but I don’t expect it to happen because voters seem to have a weird hangup about defensemen.

Nicklas Lidstrom won seven Norris Trophies and even he never won the Hart, though he was in the top 10 for votes six separate times. Roman Josi set the Nashville Predators franchise records for points in a season by any skater and he only placed sixth in Hart Trophy voting last season.

All this to say, a defenseman would have to be the best player in the league by a fairly wide margin to win the Hart Trophy and finally pry it from the hands of the star centermen who typically win it. 

Moritz Seider Detroit Red Wings
Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The only way I can see Seider winning the Hart is if he has an otherworldly season with 80-plus points and elite defensive impacts, leading the team to the playoffs with minimal help from Larkin and Raymond. He would need at least one highlight-reel goal for everyone to faun over all season and would need to have statement games against the Oilers, Avalanche, and Maple Leafs, proving his dominance over the likes of McDavid, Matthews, and Makar.

Do I think it’ll happen? No. Could it happen? Look, I didn’t really expect Seider to be the best rookie in the NHL last season by such a wide margin so anything is possible.

Simon Edvinsson – Calder Trophy

I had this prediction ready a few weeks back but I was forced to drop it down a tier or two once it was announced that Simon Edvinsson would begin this season in the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins, a decision that I wholeheartedly agree with.

The biggest factor working against Edvinsson is time. If he misses too many NHL games before being called up, people won’t vote for him. Remember a few years ago when people argued that Quinn Hughes should have won the Calder Trophy because Makar only played 57 games as a rookie? Ahh, simpler times.

Edvinsson has sky-high potential and if he sorts out some of his consistency issues early this season, he could have a legitimate chance at finishing the year as a Calder finalist. There is usually at least one defenseman in the top three for Calder voting, so his main competition would likely be Owen Power of the Buffalo Sabres. 

Simon Edvinsson Detroit Red Wings
Simon Edvinsson, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

I think Edvinsson is much more likely to be a Calder frontrunner next year since I believe the team plans on keeping him in Grand Rapids for most of the year in a legitimate top-pairing role, something that they can’t offer to him in Detroit quite yet.

Jakub Vrana – Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy

This sounds insane at face value, but Vrana has scored 21 goals in 37 games in a Red Wings uniform, a 47-goal pace. Now, I recognize that this is an incredibly small sample size, but if he somehow managed to match that and then toss in a few extra goals here and there on a greatly improved Red Wings power play, he could be in the race. Maybe the race for second, though, because Auston Matthews has scored at a 62-goal pace over the last three seasons combined (148 goals in 195 games) and that feels unattainable for pretty much everyone else in the NHL.

Awards Don’t Measure Success

Regardless of how this season shakes out, the success of Red Wings players on NHL Awards night in Nashville next June doesn’t mean much for the team overall. This team needs to develop chemistry, buy into and learn Lalonde’s new systems, and figure out what their identity is. An awards loss here and there won’t define the team’s future; that’s for the players to determine.

Which members of the Red Wings organization do you think are the most likely to win an award this year? Do you think any other players will be a dark horse candidate for a major award? Who will be the next Red Wings prospect to compete for the Calder after Seider/Raymond (21-22), Söderblom/Edvinsson (22-23), Edvinsson/Kasper (23-24)? Sound off in the comment section below!

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