NHL Predictions: Who Will Win Each of Hockey's Major Awards?
Most of the teams in the NHL are closing in on the first 75 percent of their season being in the books, so this is a good time to look around the league at who the front-runners are for the sport's major awards.
Some players that have been in the mix for these awards in recent years are having less-than-stellar seasons, which could open the door for some new faces to receive some hardware in Las Vegas this summer.
In fact, each one of these award winners would be a first-time recipient.
Let's look at who would win each of the NHL's major awards if the season ended today.
Lady Byng Trophy: Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars
Loui Eriksson is one of the better unsung players in the game and is emerging as a potential heir to Martin St. Louis' run as owner of the Lady Byng.
Like St. Louis, Eriksson possesses a strong offensive game (17 goals, 27 assists in 54 games), but rarely finds himself in the penalty box (six penalty minutes).
A down season from St. Louis might open the door for someone new to win this award this year, and Eriksson would be a great choice.
Selke Award: Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews isn't receiving as much Hart Trophy consideration since the Hawks have lost six straight games, but he's still the front-runner for the Selke.
He leads the NHL in takeaways (72), is among the best in the NHL in faceoffs (59.6 percent), is 12th overall in points and is near the league lead in goals as well.
Pavel Datsyuk will receive his annual consideration, as will others, but this year, the Selke could wind up in Chicago.
Jack Adams Award: Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues
Certainly, John Tortorella and Paul MacLean will get a lot of consideration here as the Rangers and Senators battle for the top spot in their respective divisions, but the biggest story in coaching this season has been the remarkable turnaround in St. Louis after Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench.
If the Blues continue their pace to be a Top 4 team in the Western Conference, Hitchcock will run away with this one.
Calder Trophy: Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
This is going to be an interesting race to watch in the season's final eight weeks, but there is one significant factor that played into my selecting Adam Henrique over Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: health.
RNH has missed a few games already with a shoulder issue, and that has popped up again a couple times after he returned to the lineup.
Henrique is playing an equally important role on a team that's playing better, and he could end up taking the Calder home this summer.
Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson is running away with the top spot in scoring by a defenseman this year (48 points in 55 games entering Wednesday's games), but he's more of a complete defenseman than other scoring blueliners in recent years.
He ranks 10th among defensemen in average ice time per game (25:31), and his 56.0 seconds per shift is tied for the sixth longest in the league. He is plus-six to date.
Vezina Trophy: Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Jimmy Howard is putting up an enormous number of wins, but the rest of the stat sheet belongs to Henrik Lundqvist.
He's in a dead heat with Brian Elliott to lead the league in save percentage (.939) and goals-against average (1.80), but has been asked to carry a more significant portion of the load for the first-place Rangers than Elliott has in St. Louis (where he splits starts with Jaroslav Halak).
Hart Trophy: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Entering Wednesday night's games, Evgeni Malkin's 62 points lead the NHL, his 29 goals are third in the league, and he ranks ninth in average ice time among forwards (21:24).
Perhaps most importantly, Malkin has carried a Penguins team all season while other stars like Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang have missed time.
He has taken his game to another level this year and is reminding fans that he's one of the elite players in the league.