Hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman is ESPN Insider's armchair GM this season, exploring how modern statistics can inform front-office decisions.
As we hit the NHL's All-Star break, the races for the most prestigious individual awards are wide open. Jakub Voracek is still hanging on to the Art Ross Trophy lead, Pekka Rinne's injury could open up what appeared to be a two-horse Vezina Trophy race, Calgary's unexpected success has thrust captain Mark Giordano into both Norris and Hart trophy contention, and Johnny Gaudreau into the Calder Trophy mix. Most importantly, the list of viable Hart contenders has yet to be pruned to even a dozen names.
It's always hard to predict who will win each of these awards -- even after the season ends. The average Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) voter might get to see most teams only a half-dozen times, at most. Even in one's own hometown, catching all 41 games might not add to greater clarity, if the voter gets swept up in narratives. That's where hockey analytics can come in handy, to help establish whether there's validity to the mainstream reputations, and if there's someone else who should be getting more attention.
Before we dive in, remember that we are trying to determine who will win, not who should win. We'll be using history as a guide to determine what traits the voters generally tend to favor, and who is most likely to display them over the remainder of the season. For today, we're only looking at the Hart, Norris, Vezina, Calder and Art Ross awards.
Here's a detailed look at how each of the races has played out thus far, along with my prediction of who will win at season's end: