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Bleacher Report's Official 2012-13 NHL Awards

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IApril 28, 2013

Bleacher Report's Official 2012-13 NHL Awards

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    After an exciting 48-game regular season, it's time to pick the winners of every major NHL award.

    This year's condensed schedule has made it difficult for players to separate themselves from the rest of the candidates in these award races, which will create a lot of suspense going into Awards Night in June.

    Let's take a look at which players deserve to win the major end-of-the-year awards. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.

Jack Adams Award: Best Head Coach

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    Winner: Paul MacLean, Ottawa Senators

    Finalists: Jack Capuano (NYI), Todd Richards (CBJ)

    Paul MacLean did a wonderful job with the Ottawa Senators this season to help them reach the playoffs despite having to play most of the season without star players such as Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza because of injuries.

    This team could have easily quit and focused on next season with a roster made up of many AHL players and NHLers with very little experience, but MacLean was able to motivate this team and help it realize that reaching the postseason was a realistic goal despite all of the injuries.

    Even though they were without two of their best defensemen for most of the year (Karlsson and Jared Cowen), the Senators were still able to finish the season ranked second in goals against and penalty killing. MacLean's system and the importance he puts on responsible defensive play contributed greatly to this success.

    What's even more impressive is the fact that the Senators made the playoffs from a Northeast Division that was quite competitive, with four out of five teams earning a postseason berth.

    MacLean found ways for his team to win games on a consistent basis without its top scorer from last season, it's leading goal scorer from last year and the reigning Norris Trophy winner for a large portion of 2013. If that's not great coaching, I don't know what is.

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Best Defensive Forward

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    Winner: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

    Finalists: Jonathan Toews (CHI), Pavel Datsyuk (DET)

    Patrice Bergeron won the 2012 Frank J. Selke Trophy for contributions to the defensive success of the Boston Bruins, who ranked sixth in GAA and first in faceoff percentage last season.

    The 27-year-old center has been just as dominant defensively in 2013 with a league-leading 62.1 faceoff percentage and the most defensive-zone faceoff wins (177).

    He also has the fourth-most faceoff wins (549), the sixth-most short-handed faceoff wins (73) and the second-best short-handed faceoff percentage (63.6).

    In addition to his impressive faceoff stats, Bergeron has 23 takeaways and 25 blocked shots. He also ranked third on the Bruins in scoring with 32 points in 42 games.

    Where the Bruins center really shines is on the penalty kill. Bergeron averages 2:12 of short-handed time on ice per game and also leads his team with a plus/minus of 24. Boston has the fourth-best penalty kill percentage (87.0) in the NHL and ranks third in goals against. This success wouldn't have been possible without the fantastic defensive play of Bergeron.

    As the most reliable defensive forward in the league, Bergeron deserves to win his second consecutive Selke Trophy.

Calder Trophy: Rookie of the Year

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    Winner: Jonathan Hubereau, Florida Panthers

    Finalists: Jonas Brodin (MIN), Brendan Gallagher (MTL)

    This year's Calder Trophy race was very difficult to analyze because there were so many worthy candidates, and no player established himself as the clear favorite. With that said, Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau is my choice for the rookie of the year.

    He finished tied for the rookie lead in scoring with 31 points, third in goals scored with 14, first in TOI among forwards (16:55/game) and third in shots with 112. Huberdeau also ranked second among rookie forwards with nine power-play points (two goals, seven assists).

    With very little talent around him, Huberdeau was able to have a tremendous first season in the NHL as one of the most important players on the Panthers' roster. He played in a top-six role and also contributed to his team's success on special teams with 2:21 of power-play time on ice per game.

    Huberdeau was under a lot of pressure to perform at a high level in 2013 since he was the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, and to his credit, the 19-year-old forward lived up to expectations.

Vezina Trophy: Most Outstanding Goaltender

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    Winner: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

    Finalists: Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ), Antti Niemi (SJS)

    The most outstanding goaltender of the 2013 season is Tuukka Rask.

    Rask finished with a 19-10-5 record, a 2.00 GAA and a .929 save percentage. He also tied for the league lead in shutouts, and he is the only goaltender ranked in the top three of GAA and SV% (among goalies with at least 24 games played). He's allowed two goals or fewer in 24 of his 34 starts.

    The case against Rask is that the Bruins play so well defensively, and that he doesn't have to dominate games to help his team win on a consistent basis. People who say that have not watched the Bruins this season, because the defensive performance from key blueliners such as Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk has not been as strong in 2013 as it was in recent seasons.

    Young defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski have also played a role on the team's blue line, and both players have struggled at times defensively with costly turnovers and other rookie mistakes.

    The 26-year-old star was asked to be near-perfect in the final month of the season with Boston's offense going through a massive slump (three or more goals scored in just four of the team's 14 games in April).

    To his credit, the Finnish netminder stepped up his game to prevent the Bruins from losing their lead in the Northeast Division.

    Rask's shutout victory on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning was one of his finest performances of the year. After the game, Bruins forward Daniel Paille spoke about his goaltender's play.

    He’s been solid all year, and I think that’s five shutouts for him. And he just makes everything look so easy. You know, I think they could have had a few goals there and Tuukka was just solid. When he has that mindset – that’s mostly every time when there’s no fatigue in there – he’s one of the best goalies. So he’s been great and I think he’s had that confidence all year. It hasn’t been different for him. We know that’s what we’ll get out of him.

    As one of the most consistent goaltenders in the NHL who also put up incredible stats, Rask deserves to win the Vezina Trophy. He is the Bruins' most valuable player and the primary reason why they rank third in goals against and have the fourth-best penalty kill.

James Norris Trophy: Best All-Around Defenseman

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    Winner: P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

    Finalists: Ryan Suter (MIN), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (PHX)

    P.K. Subban missed the first six games of the Montreal Canadiens' season while working out a new contract with the team, but ever since he stepped onto the ice, the 23-year-old star has been the league's best defenseman.

    He finished tied for the lead in scoring among defensemen with 38 points, third in assists in assists with 27 and added 11 goals. He also has the second-best plus/minus rating (12) among the 10 highest-scoring defensemen.

    Subban also made a huge impact on special teams. The Canadiens blueliner ranked second among all defensemen in power-play TOI per game (4:42) and also finished second in the NHL in power-play points with 26. He was one of two defensemen (teammate Andrei Markov was the other) to rank in the top 15 in power-play scoring.

    Contrary to popular belief, Subban is not a one-dimensional player. He has improved quite a bit defensively since entering the NHL as a rookie in 2009-10. The young defenseman contributed to his team's penalty kill (1:28 SHTOI/game), while also tallying 49 blocked shots, 40 hits and 10 takeaways.

    Subban has made a substantial impact at both ends of the ice for the Canadiens this season and deserves to win the first major award of his NHL career.

Art Ross Trophy: Top Scorer

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    Winner: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

    Runner-Up: Steven Stamkos (TBL)

    Martin St. Louis continues to prove that he is one of the best players of his generation.

    The veteran winger finished the season with a league-leading 60 points to win the second Art Ross Trophy of his career (also won in 2003-04). At 37 years of age, he is the oldest player to ever capture the scoring title.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning star tallied 17 goals and 43 assists in 48 games, and ended the season with seven points in his last five games to finish three points above his teammate Steven Stamkos on the league's scoring leaderboard.

    It will be interesting to see if St. Louis is named as a finalist for the Hart Trophy. He did win the scoring title, but his team failed to make the playoffs, and it's rare to see players from non-playoff teams receive a Hart nomination.

    Wayne Gretzky was the last player to lead the NHL in points and not be recognized as a finalist for the Hart (1993-94).

Maurice Richard Trophy: Top Goal Scorer

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    Winner: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

    Runner-Up: Steven Stamkos 29 (TBL)

    Alexander Ovechkin won the third Maurice Richard Trophy of his career in another extraordinary season for the Washington Capitals captain.

    The superstar forward finished the year with 32 goals (23 in his last 23 games), including 14 goals during the month of April (13 games) to help the Capitals clinch the Southeast Division title.

    Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos led the NHL with 60 goals scored last year and was the favorite to win the Richard Trophy after the stellar first half of this shortened season. However, he struggled (by his standards) to find the back of the net in April with just four goals in 13 games, which brought his season total to 29.

Hart Trophy: Most Valuable Player

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    Winner: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

    Finalists: John Tavares (NYI), Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ)

    There were many quality candidates for the Hart Trophy this season, but the most deserving player is Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

    The Russian winger did not start the year well, but he finished the regular season on an incredible scoring run. He scored 23 goals with 12 assists in his final 23 games, and this stellar offensive production was the primary reason behind the Capitals' late-season push for a playoff berth.

    In those 23 games, Washington went 17-4-2 to overtake the Winnipeg Jets in the standings and win the Southeast Division.

    Ovechkin finished with a league-leading 32 goals and ranked third in scoring with 56 points. He also tied for the most power-play points with 27 and led all NHL players with 16 power-play goals.

    In February, the Capitals were near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and needed Ovechkin to play much better for the team to have any chance of reaching the postseason. To his credit, the captain raised his game and carried the team on his back with a dominating display of goal scoring in the final month of the regular season.

    No player's success meant more to his team this season than Ovechkin's, and that's why he's the most valuable player.

     

    Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs in Boston. All quotes obtained first hand.

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