NHL Awards: Predicting the Winners
Milestones were hit, and a new Stanley Cup champion will be crowned, but this is a night for NHL players to celebrate their individual success during the regular season.
There are many deserving players for the multiple awards to be given out, but only a few will win.
Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the NHL's most proficient rookie. Every year, the talent pool improves, thus picking the winner becomes more difficult. This year is no different.
Adam Henrique, center for the New Jersey Devils, had a spectacular season—playing in 74 games. Henrique centered the top line of the New Jersey Devils this year, due to an injury to Travis Zajac. His 35 assists led all rookies. He added 16 goals and finished a plus-eight.
Gabriel Landeskog dressed in every game this season for the Colorado Avalanche. His 52 points tied for first among rookies. His 22 goals were good for second. This rookie found himself taking a heavy workload in his first season. Landeskog saw plenty of time on both the power play and penalty kill. Gabriel averaged over 18 minutes per game and led the Avs in plus-minus with 20.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall and had high expectations. Nugent-Hopkins was sidelined with a shoulder injury, limiting his time to 62 games. In his 62 games, he finished with 52 points, tying him with Landeskog. He finished the season with 18 goals and 34 assists, one shy of tying Adam Henrique.
Although each of these players are deserving of this award, only one can win. If the NHL playoffs were considered in the voting, Henrique might have run away with this award for his clutch play. Unfortunately, they do not hold any weight. Thus, the door remains open for the other two.
Winner: Gabriel Landeskog
Ultimately, this award will go to Gabriel Landeskog. His consistent play that earned him veteran-type minutes will push him past the other two.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Lady Byng Trophy is given "to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability." This year it has come down to Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders' Matt Moulson.
Brain Campbell finished the season with 53 points. In his 82 games, Campbell's 49 assists ranked him second among all defensemen. More amazingly, Campbell only served a grand total of six penalty minutes all year.
Jordan Eberle tallied a total of 10 penalty minutes all year. Eberle finished the season with 34 goals, 42 assists and 76 points—all career highs. Eberle and fellow nominee Matt Moulson were the only two players to score at least 30 goals and have 10 or fewer minutes in penalties.
Matt Moulson had another fantastic year. He improved his career high in goals to 36 and points to 69. With all of that, Moulson only logged six penalty minutes all year.
Winner: Matt Moulson
Paul Kariya, in the 1996-97 season, was the last player to score at least 30 goals and have single-digit penalty minutes. Matt Moulson just accomplished this feat, which will ultimately win him the award.
Frank J. Selke Trophy
The Selke Trophy is awarded to (as per the Hockey Hall of Fame) "the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game." This year's finalists are David Backes, Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk.
David Backes led the St. Louis Blues in goals (24), points (54) and hits (226). Backes finished the season with a plus-15. Backes adds to his case with 50 takeaways and 72 blocked shots. Backes' play helped the St. Louis Blues become the league's best defensive team. As a collective unit, the Blues had a goals-against average of 1.60 and allowed just 26.7 shots a game—both league-leading stats.
Patrice Bergeron finished second in the league, winning 59.3 percent of his faceoffs. Bergeron was the Boston Bruins' No. 1 guy when it came to killing penalties, leading the team in ice time while shorthanded. Bergeron could have made a case for the Byng, too, logging only 20 penalty minutes. He managed to finish the season a plus-36, with 67 blocked shots and 55 takeaways.
Pavel Datsyuk is a finalist for the seventh time in eight seasons. Pavel Datsyuk ranked top 10 in the league in faceoffs percentage (56.2) and takeaways (97). Datsyuk didn't have his most productive season offensively, finishing the season with 19 goals and 67 points in 70 games. Pavel might not have had his ideal year offensively, but his defensive game never struggled.
Winner: David Backes
Backes will win this award for his solid two-way play. It is difficult to look past the success of his team and how much he contributed to it.
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Daniel Alfredsson, Joffrey Lupul and Max Pacioretty round out the finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey" (via Hockey Hall of Fame).
Daniel Alfredsson has been in the league for 16 seasons. The Ottawa Senators captain hit a milestone this season, scoring the 400th goal of his career. Alfredsson finished the season with 27 goals, 32 assists, 59 points and a plus-16. His on-ice contribution helped the Senators jump from the cellar to the playoffs. Alfredsson's off-ice contribution has helped earn him this nomination, acting as an advocate for the Royal Ottawa Hospital and other charitable organizations.
Joffrey Lupul battles on the ice and has now been forced to do it off the ice, too. Lupul spent time recovering from a blood disorder that threatened his career in the NHL. Lupul regained his health, leading to a stellar season in 2011-2012. Lupul finished the season with 25 goals. His 42 assists and 67 points were career highs for him. The Masterton Trophy requires some off-ice contributions, and Lupul made his by purchasing suites for a home game, allowing the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada to attend a Leafs game.
Max Pacioretty came back from a brutal injury. Last year, Pacioretty was hammered into the partition, fracturing vertebrae and causing a serious concussion that ended his season. This Montreal Canadien came hammering back this season, scoring 33 goals and 65 points. Off the ice, Pacioretty started charitable hockey games and created the Max Pacioretty Foundation. His foundation is set up to raise money to buy medical equipment for the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre in Montreal.
Winner: Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty will win this award. After suffering a horrific injury, he bounced back to have a great year in the NHL. What sets him apart is the fact that he is proactively helping with head injuries, an issue the NHL is highly involved in.
GM of the Year
This year there were three general managers that stood out above the rest. These guys gave their coaches the right tools to set up their team for success.
Doug Armstrong made all the right moves for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues went down to the wire in the Presdients' Trophy race, ultimately losing out to Vancouver. Armstrong managed to bring in veterans Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Kent Huskins to help his young team. Netminder Brian Elliott also came in, helping the Blues to become the best defensive team in the league. His greatest addition this year was Ken Hitchcock. With his addition, the Blues went 43-15-11 and won the Central Division.
David Poile managed the Nashville Predators right into the playoffs this year. This is his third nomination for the award. Poile already had a solid set of guys on his roster but managed to bring in a few extra. At the end of the season, Poile's Nashville Predators recorded 48 wins, a franchise record.
Dale Tallon made a huge splash last season for the Florida Panthers. Tallon revamped his roster by trading for Brian Campbell. He managed to acquire Tomas Fleischmann and replaced Thomas Vokoun with Jose Theodore. Tallon brought in a first-time head coach in Kevin Dineen. From there, he rounded out his roster with players who led the team to a Southeast Division title. Tallon is responsible for the Panthers making the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Winner: Dale Tallon
Dale Tallon took a chance, and it paid off. His massive offseason led to success in the regular season. Making the playoffs might have gotten Tallon a nomination for this award, but winning the division will help him walk away with it.
As described by NHL.com, the Vezina Trophy is awarded to "the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position." This award is voted on by the general managers of all 30 NHL clubs. This year Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne were all named finalists.
Henrik Lundqvist is the backbone of the New York Rangers. Much of their success rests on his shoulders. This is the fourth time Lundqvist has been up for this award. Lundqvist had a career year this year, setting new bests in wins (39), goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.930). Lundqvist managed to blank the opposing team on eight occasions this season. Lundqvist was at the top of all major goaltending categories.
Jonathan Quick clearly is an important piece to the Los Angeles Kings. Quick played in 69 games and won 35 of them. His 10 shutouts led the league. Quick was second in goals-against average (1.95) and fifth in save percentage (.929). Much like Lundqvist, the Kings didn't help out their goaltender much, with the 29th-ranked offense in the league.
Pekka Rinne showed why he deserved his November contract extension by posting 43 wins—which led the league. Rinne also led the league in shots faced at 2,153. His .923 save percentage was seventh. Rinne posted a 2.39 goals-against average and added five shutouts this year. Last year, too, Pekka was a finalist for this award.
Winner: Henrik Lundqvist
This has been Lundqvist's award to lose much of this season. His play is critical to the success of his team. Although Quick has made a case for this trophy, playoff performances do not count. Lundqvist is an elite goaltender who had a career year, and that is why he will be crowned with the Vezina.
James Norris Memorial Trophy
The Norris Trophy is given to "the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position," as per NHL.com. Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson are all finalists for this prestigious award.
Zdeno Chara is the Boston Bruins' All-Star defenseman. He brings a big physical game and logs big minutes. He earned his nomination for his 52 points this season—fourth among NHL defensemen. Chara was as a plus-33 this season, ranking him third in the league.
Erik Karlsson had an incredible year offensively. He finished top 10 in the league, with his 78 points. He led all defensemen in goals (19), assists (59), points (78) and takeaways (67). Karlsson finished the season a respectable plus-16. His play helped lead the Ottawa Senators to the playoffs this season.
Shea Weber is the Nashville Predators' workhorse. Weber brings a physical game, like Chara, and is a threat to score, like Karlsson. Weber scored 19 goals and 49 points this season. Most of his damage was done on the power play. Weber finished with a plus-21. On the blue line, Weber had 51 takeaways, blocked 140 shots and delivered 177 hits.
Winner: Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson's contributions offensively and his turnaround defensively will ultimately lead to him winning this award.
Hart Memorial Trophy
The Hart Trophy is awarded annually "to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team" (via NHL.com).
Henrik Lundqvist is nominated for the fourth time. John Tortorella told Newsday, "He is the backbone of our team -- always has been. He is one of the strongest competitors that I've seen as an athlete. Sometimes as a goalie, you don't see it. With him, you do."
Evgeni Malkin lit up the scorer's sheet this year, leading the league with 109 points. That will automatically earn Malkin his second Art Ross Trophy. Malkin finally broke the 50-goal plateau. Evgeni's performance this season could have made a case for the Hart Trophy on its own, but the fact that he put up these kinds of numbers in the absence of Sidney Crosby makes it even more special. This is Malkin's third nomination for the trophy.
Steven Stamkos buried 60 goals this year, becoming the 20th player in history to do so. Stamkos managed to finish No. 1 in goals and second in the league in points—with 97. Stamkos will win his second Maurice Richard Trophy. Stamkos was among the leaders of his team in nearly all major categories. Stamkos played a well-rounded game, throwing his body around and blocking shots. Stamkos is a superstar and clearly shows how much he means to his team.
Winner: Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin will walk away with this award. He stepped up and filled the role of Sidney Crosby without a hitch. Even though Lundqvist and Stamkos are deserving of this award, Malkin meant a little more to his team.
Jack Adams Award
The Jack Adams Award is given to the NHL's top coach.
John Tortorella is a boisterous coach. He wears his heart on his sleeve and isn't afraid to say what is on his mind. But his players respond to his coaching style. He has implemented a system in New York that led his team to a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Tortorella did it under the public spotlight, too, while shooting HBO's 24/7.
Ken Hitchcock is the mastermind of the St. Louis Blues. Hitchcock was brought in to help right the ship of the sub-.500 Blues. He turned that ship right around and made the Blues Presidents' Trophy contenders. The Blues finished the season as Central Division champions and second in the Western Conference.
Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators lacks the coaching experience of the other two nominees but also had a very successful season. Last year, the Senators finished 13th. With MacLean, they finished in eighth place and gave Tortorella's Rangers a run for their money in Round 1 of the playoffs.
Winner: Ken Hitchcock
What Hitchcock did in St. Louis was nothing shy of miraculous. He took a team that was struggling and turned them into the best defensive team in the NHL. His Blues fell just short of winning the Presidents' Trophy, too.
Ted Lindsay Award
The Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, is awarded annually to the NHL's most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players Association.
For the three finalists for this award, just refer back to the Hart Trophy.
Winner: Henrik Lundqvist
What will allow Lundqvist to win this award is the fact that the Players Association votes on it. He has been consistent for the Rangers, and his presence in net translates into success on the ice.
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