Photo Courtesy of NHLPA.com
The Ted Lindsay Award, which was originally named the Lester B. Pearson Award after the former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was first handed out to Boston Bruins center, Phil Esposito, in 1971. This prestigious award is given out every year to the leagues most valuable player, judged by the National Hockey League Players Association. Today, the NHL has announced the top three nominees for the Ted Lindsay Award for the 2019-20 season; Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers. All three forwards are extremely deserving of this award, but which one is most deserving of this huge honor.
German forward, Leon Draisaitl, is a great candidate for the Ted Lindsay. The 24 year old led the entire league in points this season with 110 in only 71 games (This due to the season being cut short from Covid-19), which in turn led him to winning the Art Ross Trophy this year. Draisaitl also accumulated the most assists in the league, with 67; and to top that all off, he was also selected to be in the All Star Game. One of the only issues that I have with Draisaitl, as a valid winner of the leagues most valuable player, is that he played this season with Connor McDavid. Some may say that because he had such an amazing superstar to play with, and to complement his game, he is not as valuable of a player. This may be true to a certain extent, and was probably taken into consideration for the real Ted Lindsay vote, but Connor McDavid actually missed a couple of games due to injury, and during that span, the German stud still maintained his incredible play and numbers.
Next up, we have former 2013 first overall pick, Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon was well worth the number one overall selection, because this year, he came up with 93 points in only 69 games. The 24 year old Canadian also made it to the NHL All Star Game in St. Louis. Although Nathan MacKinnon has the least amount of points out of all three of the nominees, the fact that the Colorado Avalanche had injury issues with some of their top six skaters, and yet he still came up with over 90 points and helped the Avs secure an amazing playoff spot, shows just how valuable MacKinnon is to Colorado.
Last, but not least, we have the 28 year old Russian, Artemi Panarin. Panarin’s 2019-20 campaign was nothing short of amazing. After signing a contract with a presumed rebuilding team, Panarin helped the New York Rangers secure a spot in the 24 team Playoff Qualifiers, with very little top six offensive depth on the Rangers roster. New York does have some offensive talent, like Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad, but other than that there is not a whole lot yet. In total, Panarin accumulated a whopping 95 points in only 69 games. He had the nod to attend the All Star Game in St. Louis as well, but he could not attend, however, due to injury.
So, the player that I think deserves to win the Ted Lindsay Award the most, out of these three skaters, is none other than Artemi Panarin. Do not get me wrong, all three forwards truly deserved this honor, but at the end of the day, it all just came down to who had more value for their team. When you take away each player from their respected rosters, Panarin’s absence would hit the Rangers harder than if Draisaitl or MacKinnon were not on their teams. What Panarin did, with very little resources to help him out, not only show his skill, but also his insanely high value as a player.