The NHL Awards are tonight, which showcases the best of the best around the league. Several players are up for awards, including recent Stanley Cup winning goaltender of the Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick. Quick, along with Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne are up for the Vezina trophy for best goaltender. Chances are I’m wrong on a good chunk of these, but here are my NHL award predictions sure to go wrong:
Calder Trophy (top rookie): Adam Henrique (NJD), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM), Gabriel Landeskog (COL)
While only one of these three players made the playoffs (Henrique), all three had solid Calder-worthy seasons. Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins ended up with 52 points, but Nugent-Hopkins did it in 20 fewer games. Though Landeskog had a better +/- rating (+20 to -2), I believe Nugent-Hopkins had a better rookie season overall and therefore should win the Calder.
Selke Trophy (top defensive forward): David Backes (STL), Patrice Bergeron (BOS), Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
As much as I hate to admit this, to me, it’s a no-brainer. Patrice Bergeron led the league with a +36, had only 20PIMs and notched 64 points on top of that. Datsyuk was+21 and had 67 points in 70 games played for the Red Wings this season and Backes notched 54 points and was a +15 in 82 games. While Backes and Datsyuk had respectable seasons, Bergeron should win the Selke.
Lady Byng Trophy (skill/sportsmanship): Brian Campbell (FLA), Jordan Eberle (EDM), Matt Moulson (NYI)
Brian Campbell was one of the players that GM Dale Tallon brought in last offseason and he paid tremendous dividends for the Florida Panthers. Campbell had 53 points in 82 games for the Panthers and demonstrated poise at the blue line all season. Jordan Eberle played in his second season with the Oilers and had a sensational sophomore season. In playing 78 games with Edmonton, Eberle registered 76 points with the team, being a leading scorer for the club. Moulson was tied for 10th in the league in goals and 3rd in power play goals for the Islanders this season. To me, the Lady Byng should go to Campbell.
Masterson Trophy (perseverance, sportsmanship): Daniel Alfredsson (OTT), Joffrey Lupul (TOR), Max Pacioretty (MTL)
Everyone remembers the hit that Zdeno Chara put on Max Pacioretty during the playoffs last year. I’m not going to get into a discussion on the cleanliness/legality/nastiness/whatever of said hit, because I’d be here all day. However, knowing that Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion, fractured vertebrae from that hit and came back to start the season for the Habs (and have a good season, mind you) is pretty much the only argument that I have to make here.
Vezina (best goaltender): Jonathan Quick (LAK), Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Pekka Rinne (NSH)
This could be one of the closest races, and rightfully so. All three goaltenders had spectacular years. Quick played 69 games with the Kings this season, registering a 1.93 GAA and .929 SV%. Lundqvist started 62 games, had a 1.97 GAA and a .930 SV%. Rinne has the most wins in the league this year with 43 and has a respectable .923 SV%. My prediction and who I think should win are different. I think Quick should win it, but ultimately I think Lundqvist will end up taking it — that whole New York media thing.
Norris Trophy (best defenseman): Zdeno Chara (BOS), Erik Karlsson (OTT), Shea Weber (NSH)
The Norris will be a bit tricky and here’s why: Erik Karlsson had one of the best offensive numbers as a defenseman in quite some time, as he had 78 points in 81 games, good for 10th in the league overall and first among defenseman by far. Dustin Byfuglein was in a distant second with 53 points. Chara, on the other hand, was third in the league (first among defensemen) in +/-, registering a +33. He also contributed to the Bruins’ 6th best GA/G (goals against per game) at 2.43. Weber wasn’t too shabby either, having led the Predators in points (49), goals (19) and +/- (+21). My vote goes to Karlsson.
Hart Trophy (most valuable to his team): Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Steven Stamkos (TBL)
Normally, I’m not a fan of giving the Hart trophy to a goaltender — that’s what the Vezina is for. Out of the remaining two nominees, both have great resumes, including Stamkos, who notched 60 goals and was the first player to do that since ’07-’08 (Ovechkin-65). Malkin did quite well this season, too. With Sidney Crosby only being able to play in 22 games, Malkin had to carry the load for his teammates and delivered. Malkin had 109 points in 75 games, leading the league in points. Despite Stamkos leading the way with goals, I would give the Hart to Malkin. He carried his team on his back through most of the season and brought them to the playoffs.
General Manager of the year: Doug Armstrong (STL), David Poile (NSH), Dale Tallon (FLA)
While all three GMs have done a great job building their team this year, Dale Tallon’s team came out of nowhere to win the Southeast Division and place third in the conference. Tallon was able to get players like Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc, Matt Bradley, Ed Jovanovski, Jose Theodore, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and Brian Campbell. To top it off, the Florida Panthers went from fifth in the division last season to tops this season. A huge accomplishment for the team.
Jack Adams (top head coach): Ken Hitchcock (STL), Paul MacLean (OTT), John Tortorella (NYR)
To me, this is an easy choice. Before Hitchcock took over the Blues, they were struggling to keep their heads above water. Not only did they end up in second in the Western Conference, but St. Louis won their first playoff series in 10 years, defeating the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.