Jacob Trouba Omission An Indictment Of NHL And PHWA Voting System

Did the PHWA Even Watch Jacob Trouba? —

One thing I have learned over my rapidly advancing years on this planet is not to send angry emails. I guess we’ll find out if the same rule should apply to angry blog posts.  I was angry on the evening of the NHL Player Awards at how Winnipeg  Jets hockey fans’ favorite young blue liner was snubbed. Despite a fantastic season, Jacob Trouba was not included on the NHL All-Rookie Team.

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Winnipeg Jets Defenceman Jacob Trouba   Photo by Shawn Coates

Now let’s be clear here, this wasn’t an intentional snub.  Nobody set out to purposely ignore Trouba or the impressive freshman season he put together in 2013-14.   I actually took some comfort in realizing his snub is more an indictment of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and how little they collectively know about hockey.  A trained monkey had a better chance of getting their Awards ballot more right than some of the 137 members of the PHWA who cast ballots.

How bad was it?  Well, despite Trouba’s performance that had him at or near the top of many rookie defencemen statistical categories, there were 85 PHWA members who didn’t even list Trouba as one of their top five rookies of 2013-14.  Huh? How is that possible?  Now to be fair, there were a lot of strong rookie performances this season and there were a number of great seasons from rookie defencemen but for Trouba to not be on the All-Rookie squad is laughable.

Trouba was third in rookie scoring  with his 29 points trailing Boston’s Torey Krug by 11 points and Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm by one point.  Likely not coincidentally, the two rookie d-men who were voted to the All-Rookie team were ~ you guessed it ~ Krug and Lindholm.  Again to be fair, both of these rookie defencemen had impressive seasons and have bright futures ahead.

But if these PHWA members had dug a little deeper and actually watched Trouba play and had seen the situations he played in, I can’t imagine 85 of them ignoring him completely.  Trouba played over a dozen fewer games than both Krug and Lindholm because of his frightening neck injury in October.  He averaged 5 minutes and 3 minutes more per game, lead all rookie d-men in non-power play points, was one of only three rookie defencemen to notch a shorthanded goal, led all top 15 rookie d-men in shooting percentage and was a rookie leader in shifts per game!

The only statistic where Trouba didn’t compare to the leaders was in the much-maligned plus/minus.  But when you look at the other two’s bloated plus/minus numbers, you have to consider the far superior teams they played on and the fact they likely played far more sheltered minutes than Trouba.

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Photo by Shawn Coates

Adding to the annoyance was the actual Calder Trophy voting.  Now make no mistake, Trouba was not going to have a sniff at winning the rookie of the year nod.  Nathan McKinnon’s season in Colorado was spectacular and he deserved solid consideration for the award.  But, there was even controversy there because Tampa’s rookie left winger Ondrej Palat had very similar numbers and only received 5 first place votes.  It is worth noting that Trouba and Krug were the only rookie defencemen who received a first place vote and no rookie rearguard received more first and second place votes combined than Trouba – with 12.

Clearly there were some PHWA members paying attention.  Overall, 82 PWHA had Krug in their top 5 rookies, 55 had Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta, 62 had Lindholm and only 52 had Trouba.  I have zero doubt that if Trouba had enjoyed the same season he did in small-market Winnipeg in any American city this past season his total number of votes would have jumped dramatically and he’d be on the All-Rookie team instead of Lindholm.  Obviously, Trouba’s injury played a role, but in the end he still played more minutes than Krug and almost as many minutes as Lindholm.

So, the PHWA voters look bad as their third and fourth and fifth votes appear to just be throwaways based on minimal exposure to certain players but the NHL Awards system looks pretty flawed too. Both Maatta and Trouba finished ahead of Lindholm in Calder Trophy voting yet it was Lindholm who ended up on the rookie team.  How does that work?

This kind of thing is nothing new in Winnipeg.  In the good old days of Winnipeg Jets 1.0, the Jets had limited media exposure around the continent, with very few games on TV available for such folks voting on these kinds of honours to familiarize themselves with the team.  But in today’s hyper-techno world with every NHL game being available, these professional hockey writers need to do a better job of representing that professional label.

At the end of the day, it isn’t the end of the world that Trouba’s name isn’t listed on the All-Rookie team but it certainly would have been a nice and a deserved cherry on top of a very impressive freshman season.  Despite his small market status, I doubt this will be the only time in Trouba’s career where he will at least get consideration for such post-season honours … IF PHWA members have any clue what’s going in the league they are paid to know.

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Comments

  1. Oh no. A player you like didn’t get enough votes for an award he wasn’t going to win anyway.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Is that what you took from this article? There are hockey writers out there that have votes and have no clue Winnipeg is even on the map. Basing you vote on points without factoring in other attributes is just plain LAZY !!! and the PHWA has a lot of those types. I don’t think anybody thought or expected Trouba to WIN anything.

  2. Darryl Mills says

    Thanks for your comment. However it has nothing to do with liking a player, it has to do with a superior not getting the recognition he deserved after a fantastic season.

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