The 2019-20 NHL regular season is officially over. After 70 games, the Blackhawks finished with a record of 32-30-8. They were well out of the playoffs when the season was suspended, but the league decided on a 24-team postseason and gave the Blackhawks new life.
Before the Qualifying Round series against Edmonton starts on August 1st, the Four Feathers panelists got together to dish out their very own season awards.
Be sure to follow all of our panelists on Twitter and engage in some Hawks talk with us:
- Jonnie Nonnie
- Ron Luce
- Patrick Comiskey
- Austin P. (better known as Blackhawks Dzone)
- Tony Marchese (did not participate in these awards)
Rookie of the Year
This might be the easiest award to give out of all time. The NHL rightfully named Dominik Kubalik as a Calder Trophy finalist, and we could not agree more.
Jonnie: Not only was Dominik Kubalik the best Blackhawks rookie in 2019-20, but he's also one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy. When the Hawks acquired his rights from the Kings in exchange for a fifth-round pick, we weren’t too sure what to expect. The winger burst onto the scene and was able to find the back of the net in a variety of ways. With Kirby Dach still adjusting to the league, Kubalik’s contributions on the score sheet were an extremely pleasant surprise.
Ron: After an offseason that was centered around beefing up the defense and the goaltending (we miss you Robin Lehner), the Blackhawks only made one major addition to the forward group, a Kings seventh-round pick. However, the trade for Dominik Kubalik may be one of Stan Bowman’s best in the last few seasons. Kubalik didn’t score much early, but once he was promoted to the top six he took off. 30 goals in a shortened 70-game season is an impressive feat, especially since he could have banked 35. Easy choice here. Honorable mention here is Kirby Dach, obviously.
Comiskey: I mean, come on.
Austin: 30 goals by any player is impressive. 30 goals by a rookie is insane. (Panarin also scored 30 his rookie season, and I think he turned out pretty good).
Most Valuable Player
Patrick Kane could be named the most valuable player of the Blackhawks every single year, but somehow the Four Feathers panelists didn't all agree.
Jonnie (Kane): Patrick Kane's hands only seem to get quicker as he gets older. Showtime was the Blackhawks’ leading scorer, served as an alternate captain when Brent Seabrook went down, and made electrifying plays night in and night out. While hockey is a team effort, Patrick Kane will always stand out among the crowd.
Ron (Kane): The fact that Austin picked Saad warms my heart, but it’s hard not to choose Kane here. He led the team with 84 points and is always the most dangerous player on the ice. He can carry a team by himself, so it's an easy choice here.
Comiskey (Kane): Patrick Kane is the one thing you can routinely count on as a Blackhawks fan. Naturally, he led the team in points.
Austin (Saad): Sixth-most points on the team (33). Third-most goals (21). Fifth-most shots on goal (140); and all these figures came in only 58 games. If he played all 70 games, Saad was on pace for 40 points, 25 goals, and 169 shots. Even after missing 12 games, Saad finished with the eighth-most minutes at 5v5, eighth-most minutes on the power play, and fourth-most minutes on the penalty kill among all Blackhawks' forwards.
Defenseman of the Year
The Blackhawks had 12 different defensemen take the ice for them this season, so the Four Feathers panelists had their work cut out for them on this one.
Jonnie (Keith): Had Calvin de Haan not suffered a shoulder injury in December, he probably would have taken home this award given his impressive metrics in that small sample size. However, Duncan Keith continues to be the rock of the Blackhawks’ blue line. When injuries were starting to pile up, Keith was one of those players dealing with an ailment. He made it a point to return to the lineup quickly and battled even harder after missing a brief stretch of games. The Blackhawks are extremely lucky to have such a savvy veteran presence on the back end to mentor young defensemen like Adam Boqvist, Lucas Carlsson, and Nicolas Beaudin.
Ron (de Haan): I know Keith is a logical pick here, but the Blackhawks defensive play was much better to the eye when de Haan was healthy. Once he went down, the defense eroded ever so slightly. On a bad team defensively, de Haan still was a +10. Sure plus/minus isn’t everything, but he led the entire team in plus/minus, even more so than the scorers. Had he played the whole year this would have been a no brainer, but I still roll with #44. (Plus, he makes beer).
Comiskey (Keith): Duncan Keith may have lost a step, but he is still the best defenseman on this team. That, however, is an issue.
Austin (Murphy): Connor Murphy has a lot of pressure on him. In his third season with the Blackhawks, it looks like he is finally handling it well and performing at a high level. With Murphy in the lineup, the Blackhawks went 27-25-6 this season. With him OUT of lineup, the Hawks were a mere 5-5-2. In 58 games, Murphy had the second-most minutes played and the third-most points by a defenseman. His 5v5 numbers were also good.
- On-Ice 5v5 (min. 500 minutes played by a defenseman): 50.21 CF% (seconnd-best), 49.68 SF% (best), 48.36 SCF% (second-best), second-most defensive zone starts, most defensive zone faceoffs.
This was the first category in which the Four Feathers panelists each awarded a different player.
Jonnie (Carpenter): The Blackhawks’ penalty kill improved drastically this season, and Ryan Carpenter is a huge reason why. The former Vegas Golden Knight will never be a Corsi or point share standout, but his contributions cannot be understated. Carpenter blocked the most shots (48) and logged the most shorthanded TOI per game (2:24) of any Hawks’ forward. Carpenter taking on so much of the dirty work also allows Jonathan Toews to save a bit more energy to be able to contribute at the offensive end of the ice.
Ron (Saad): I love that Austin picked Saad for his MVP, so please see Austin’s argument and insert here. That is why Saad is unsung. He always has great underlying numbers, always scores more than 20 goals (in a full season), and he plays both ways. I’ll die on this hill, and just ask Comiskey, Saad is worth the $6 million and is still underappreciated.
Comiskey (Toews): Jonathan Toews quietly had a really good year. He was second on the team in points and had the seventh-best faceoff percentage in the league.
Austin (Kampf): David Kampf was one of just four players to play all 70 regular-season games. He played the second-most minutes on the penalty kill by a forward (the team had the ninth-best PK% in the NHL). Compared to forwards, he also had the second-most defensive zone starts, second-most defensive zone faceoffs, and the second-best faceoff percentage.
Goal of the Year
Dominik Kubalik's baseball goal was unreal, but somehow it wasn't a unanimous choice for Goal of the Year.
Jonnie (Kubalik): I absolutely love it when the Blackhawks beat the Leafs. The Hawks played one of their best all-around games of the season for that Hockey Night In Canada broadcast, and Kubalik’s baseball-style goal was the extra flair that really helped rub salt in the wound. I have the utmost respect for that level of hand-eye coordination.
Ron (Kubalik): See Jonnie’s description above. If you watch the replay, Toews’ reaction is all of our reactions, a classic “holy s**t, how did he do that?”... it was epic!
Comiskey (Kubalik): This goal was absolutely ridiculous. The look on Jonathan Toews’ face says it all.
Austin (Nylander falling to Kampf): Nylander makes his best, and possibly the team’s best, play of the year from his butt, that is too good.
Hit of the Year
Sadly, there weren't many hits to choose from. The Blackhawks are not the most physical team, but the Four Feathers panelists still had a few great ones to choose from.
Jonnie (Gilbert on Wood): I was in attendance for this game, and this whole sequence happened at my end of the ice. Dennis Gilbert absolutely lit up Miles Wood and subsequently dropped the gloves with former Hawk John Hayden. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks proceeded to get waxed by the Devils (7-1 final score), so Dennis Gilbert’s hit and the ensuing fight were pretty much the only highlights of the night.
Ron (Gilbert on Wood): This was a tough one for me, so the Gilbert hit was a big jolt and it definitely makes my memory highlight reel.
Comiskey (Keith on Donskoi): I still clearly have a lot of appreciation for Duncan Keith. I love a hit that comes with smarts and positioning.
Austin (Gilbert on Wood): Gilbert dropped Wood and then dropped the gloves. Gotta love it.
Probably the most important and contentious award given out.
Jonnie (Nylander): Everyone likes to rag on Alexander Nylander for lackadaisical mistakes (which is totally understandable), but you can’t knock his flow. When those golden locks shoot out of the back of his helmet, that’s pretty much the image you’d expect to see when you Google “typical hockey player.”
Ron (Kane): The man invented the playoff mullet, need I say more?
Comiskey (Keith): Remember Chicago, it’s better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand days as a lamb.
Austin (Caggiula): I think I have been swayed by his toothless grin as well, but with that combined with good lettuce makes Drake Caggiula fit the look of a hockey player.
Best Moment of the Year
In a season that had its full share of ups and downs, there were still many moments to choose from.
Jonnie (Kane’s 1,000th point): I was lucky enough to be in attendance for Patrick Kane’s 1,000th point. It happened at my end of the ice so I had a perfect view of the play and the celebration that ensued. Seeing all of the Blackhawks spill over the boards and onto the ice to congratulate Kane on his milestone achievement was something that I’ll never forget.
Ron (Hawks beat Knights 5-3, de Haan's first goal as Blackhawk): If you’ve listened to Four Feathers and Blackhawks On Tap, you know my love for Calvin de Haan. Seeing him score his first goal, accompanied by a very good win for the Hawks, was a nice treat. Jonnie’s point is a very good choice though and makes sense. Kane solidified his HOF bid.
Comiskey (Coach Q return to UC): For me, this is a no-brainer. The United Center has lost its buzz the last few years, and Q returning had the crowd the loudest I’ve heard it in some time.
Austin (Gustafsson trade): People could finally stop highlighting every little mistake he made.
Will the Blackhawks Win Their Qualifying Round Series vs. Edmonton?
Disclaimer: These predictions were written before Corey Crawford's absence from training camp. But, to be honest, that didn't really change much.
Jonnie (NO): As much as my heart wants to say yes here, my brain and my eyes say no. The Blackhawks’ defense is absolutely atrocious. Going up against two of the best offensive players in the league in McDavid and Draisaitl means that high-danger scoring chances will be abundant for the Oilers. As good as Corey Crawford was playing before the season was suspended, he can’t stop every single chance when they’re seemingly all right on the doorstep. If Calvin de Haan is able to play, that will help matters for the Hawks, but Edmonton’s power play is still too potent for me to feel comfortable picking the Blackhawks to take this series.
Ron (NO): It's a tale as old as time: of course I want to root for the Hawks, but Edmonton, who has more games with the last change, will be able to play McDavid and Draisaitl against whoever they want. That said, the Hawks played well against Edmonton at home with the second change but were embarrassed when it was in Edmonton. I expect more of the latter and I’ll kindly take their 12.5% chance at Alexis Lafrenière.
Comiskey (NO): Edmonton’s speed is going to be way too much for the Blackhawks' group of defensemen. Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford would both have to get incredibly hot for the Hawks to pull this one off.
Austin (YES): If, and only if, Corey Crawford is able to play and out-performs Edmonton’s goalies, as he should, and the Blackhawks can keep the majority of the games at 5v5, they win. Edmonton stinks at 5v5 because they have no depth scoring and McDavid/Draisaitl can only play so much in a first-round five-game series.
Be sure to check out our in-depth preview of the Blackhawks vs. Oilers Qualifying Round matchup.