As the NHL regular season approaches its end, a lot of talk surfaces about who should be winning certain awards.
So let's jump right on in.
HART MEMORIAL TROPHY
(Most Valuable Player to His Team)
Possibly the most sought-after award in the entire league, many Hall of Fame players have won this trophy in the past. The 2008 winner was Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Who Will Win: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin has been an absolute machine for the Penguins this year, leading both his team and the league in scoring. He was a big reason for keeping the Penguins afloat when other star players like Sergei Gonchar, Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury went down with injuries.
Who Should Win: Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils. Parise has exploded in his fourth season in the league. In the absence of Martin Brodeur, he has taken the Devils to second place in the Eastern Conference while making any player around him better.
CALDER MEMORIAL TROPHY
(League's Outstanding Rookie)
Not too much explanation need here. Won by Chicago Blackhawks' winger Patrick Kane in 2008.
Who Will Win: Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets. Mason has been a stone wall in net for the Jackets. Leading Columbus into quite possibly their first-ever playoffs, he sports the most shutouts (nine) in the NHL as a rookie.
Who Should Win: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators. Rinne has been every bit as impressive as Mason in net in his freshman season. The big Fin boasts seven shutouts and a .922 save percentage while playing on a team with half the supporting cast Mason enjoys.
If Rinne can lead the Predators into the playoffs, I believe entirely it should be his.
ART ROSS TROPHY
(Leading League Scorer)
This is fairly straightforward, the Art Ross trophy is awarded to the player who has amassed the most points in a season. Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals won this award in 2008.
Who Will Win: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin has been Mr. Everything for the Penguins this year, especially with his improved passing. He has already passed the 100-point mark and has a comfortable lead over Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Who Should Win: Well, not too much to argue here.
FRANK J. SELKE TROPHY
(Outstanding Defensive Forward)
This is given to a player who not only excels in the aspects of offense, but plays solid defense as well. Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings is the incumbent.
Who Will Win: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings. Simply put, Datsyuk is the best around at backchecking and preventing odd-man rushes. Not much reason to not give him another, he has been every bit as good as last year, if not even better.
Who Should Win: Datsyuk.
MAURICE RICHARD TROPHY
(Best Goal Scorer)
The player who amasses the most goals wins this award. Alex Ovechkin won the title in 2008 with the first 60-goal season in years.
Who Will Win: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. He is, by a somewhat large margin, the top goal scorer in the NHL. He shoots the puck almost twice as much as anybody else, and he is rewarded for his effort. He has already passed the 50 goal mark and could possibly reach 60 yet again.
Who Should Win: Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers. This will never happen because he has no chance of catching Ovechkin. I'll just say that if Kovalchuk shot the puck as much as Ovechkin, he would have 72 goals right now.
JAMES NORRIS TROPHY
This award is annually given to the best defenseman in the NHL. It was won by Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
Who Will Win: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins. Chara has been tremendous and one of the big reasons for Boston's play. He also sports a plus-23 rating.
Who Should Win: Mike Green, Washington Capitals. Green, despite possibly being the first defenseman to score 30 goals in a season in ages, is also extremely underrated on the defensive side. He doesn't take a lot of penalties and keys a very potent power-play.
They might want to consider re-naming this one the Brodeur Trophy. He has won it so much, it might as well.
Who Will Win: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins. Thomas sports the NHL's best save percentage and his play in net has lead to the Bruins leading the East in points. His Goals Against Average isn't too shabby either.
Who Should Win: Thomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers. This is a major IF pick. IF the Panthers make the playoffs, it will be because of Vokoun. He is a worthy Vezina candidate because of how many upstanding individual plays he makes on a team where the defensemen love jumping in on offense.
LADY BYNG TROPHY
(Sportsmanship and Gentlemanly Conduct)
This may be the most loosely defined award of any in the league. But nonetheless, the 2008 winner was Pavel Datsyuk.
Who Will Win: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk is every bit the sportsman on and off the ice. How can you not like this guy?
Who Should Win: Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars. What a gentleman, and not many people have heard of him. He's the most unknown 30-goal scorer in the league but he does everything right on the ice. He has only taken five penalties all season.
JACK ADAMS AWARD
Awarded to the coach who has done the most for his team. Bruce Boudreau won this in 2008.
Who Will Win: Claude Julien, Boston Bruins. Julien has done a terrific job coaching this team into a prime Stanley Cup contender. His commitment to team defense has done wonders for the B's.
Who Should Win: Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins. I don't even believe he qualifies. But taking a team that was in 10th place and gaining points in 15 of the 16 games he has been behind the bench is just amazing.
2009 ALL-NHL TEAM
G Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
LW Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
C Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
RW Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
G Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
D Mike Green, Washington Capitals
D Rob Blake, San Jose Sharks
LW Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
C Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
RW Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings
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