The NHL will have its traveling awards show in Nashville tonight with Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk a finalist for one of the biggies, the Hart Memorial Trophy which goes to the league’s MVP.
It is quite an honor for Tkachuk to be nominated but it is also quite deserved after the season he had, his first with the Panthers.
Does Tkachuk have a chance at winning?
Does that matter?
After scoring 64 goals with 153 points, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is going to run away with the award — his third since 2017 and second in three years.
Last year, Toronto’s Auston Matthews won the award and that was not really close although Jonathan Huberdeau finished fifth in the voting.
This one should be an absolute blowout — with the possibility McDavid secures every single first-place vote from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
For full disclosure, my ballot went: McDavid, David Pastrnak; Tkachuk; Mikko Rantanen and Jason Robertson.
Tkachuk had himself a fantastic regular season, an MVP-caliber season if it wasn’t for the one McDavid had.
This year, Tkachuk became one of four to record back-to-back 100-point seasons — he had 109 this season — with two different teams.
Wayne Gretzky is on that list as well.
“Pretty cool,” Tkachuk said back in March, “but that’s probably the last time I’ll ever be in the same sentence as him.”
Tonight’s award show, which is on TNT, will be broadcast from the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville with all of the season awards — save for one — being handed out.
The one award not being announced tonight is the Jim Gregory GM of the Year of which Florida’s Bill Zito is one of three finalists, the others being Don Sweeney of the Bruins and Dallas’ Jim Nill.
That is also the only award which was not voted on before the playoffs started.
So, for all of Tkachuk’s postseason heroics, they were not taken into consideration as the ballots had already been filed before Game 1 against Boston.
All of the awards being announced tonight were voted on either by the PHWA or others prior to the start of the postseason; the GM award was voted on (by other GMs and a select panel of media) after the second round of the playoffs were completed.
“It is an honor but it’s an honor for our staff, our guys, our pro scouts,’’ Zito said about being nominated.
“The GM sits in the chair, but I don’t go out and scout all those players. You have guys who are really invested, have the arguments. … Our staff is outstanding.”
Although McDavid should runaway with the MVP award, there are a few which should be close (Selke, Norris, etc.) and will make the show worth watching.
The Panthers are also expected to be honored for winning the Eastern Conference championship.
The full list of awards are listed below.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
- Monday: NHL Awards, Nashville, 8 (TNT)
- Wednesday/Thursday: NHL Draft, Nashville (Florida has picks in Rounds 2, 4, 5, 6 & 7)
- Friday: Buyout period ends
- Saturday: Free agency opens, noon
- Mid-September: Training Camp, South Florida
- Sept. 25: Preseason starts, doubleheader v. Nashville @ Sunrise
- Oct. 7: Preseason ends, vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Mid-October: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season