Detroit Red Wings Players with the Best Chance to Win a League Award in 2014-15
The Detroit Red Wings have been blessed with many memorable regular-season performances.
Detroit’s current edition may not have the flashy, league-leading scorers the organization has had in the past, but there are certainly some players worthy of material recognition.
Last season, the team was represented by head coach Mike Babcock as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award (coach of the year), but he lost out to Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche.
It was the third straight year in which Detroit left the award show empty-handed.
Looking ahead to the 2014-15 season, the high-profile hardware may not seem to be Detroit-bound, but there are still 82 games to be played.
Detroit’s top stars can measure up against any others throughout the NHL. Their numbers on the scoresheet may not garner significant attention, but their work on and off the ice speaks volumes.
These are the Detroit Red Wings players with the best chance to win a league award in 2014-15.
Henrik Zetterberg: Hart Memorial Trophy
Although he played in just 45 games in 2013-14, Henrik Zetterberg’s 48 points were just one shy of tying Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall for the team lead.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who is judged to be most valuable to his team by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Zetterberg’s torrid pace would have accumulated 29 goals, 58 assists and 87 points over the course of a full season—his best numbers since accumulating 92 points in 2007-08.
It would have tied him with Ryan Getzlaf for second in the league in scoring behind last season’s winner Sidney Crosby (104 points).
Detroit struggled without Zetterberg in the lineup, and a full season with its captain back at the helm could incur momentous results.
As a consummate professional and tremendous leader on and off the ice, Zetterberg is an integral part of the franchise and a world-class individual.
If he can replicate last year’s pace and remain healthy, it is reasonable to believe he’ll receive the national attention he deserves.
Pavel Datsyuk: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Pavel Datsyuk is a perennial qualifier for the Lady Byng Trophy.
He played in just 45 games last season, which made it difficult to name him a finalist, but he still had only six penalty minutes while averaging just less than 21 minutes of ice time per game.
The trophy is given to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct while maintaining an elite level of play, and Datsyuk does exactly that on a daily basis.
He has already won the award four times, done in succession from 2006 to 2009.
He is tied for the third-most Lady Byng wins in NHL history alongside former Red Wing Red Kelly and trails only Wayne Gretzky (five) and Frank Boucher (seven). He is also just the second player (alongside Boucher) to win the award in four consecutive years.
Datsyuk has not eclipsed 20 penalty minutes in a season since 2009-10 and has only done so five times in his 12-year career.
Niklas Kronwall: James Norris Memorial Trophy
I am taking a flier on Niklas Kronwall, but he may be one of the most underrated top defensemen in the NHL.
Detroit was spoiled watching Nick Lidstrom play at the optimal level for an NHL defenseman, which gave Kronwall impossible shoes to fill and expectations to live up to.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is often given to the defenseman who shows the greatest all-around ability in the position. Often enough, it is seemingly awarded to the league’s highest-scoring defenseman.
Kronwall could be a sleeper for the award after coming off the second-best offensive season of his career. He did so without the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen for an extended period of time.
He took on a tremendous amount of responsibility and performed admirably while Detroit’s lineup was decimated by injury. He rarely had an opportunity to settle in with a single defensive partner, which often forced him to overcompensate.
His 49 points equaled Daniel Alfredsson's production and made him the first defenseman to lead the team in scoring since Paul Coffey in 1995. Overall, he finished ninth among NHL defensemen in scoring.
His 25 power-play points were good for sixth among blueliners.
His leadership is his best quality. That was confirmed when he was named captain for Team Sweden during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi after Henrik Zetterberg suffered his back injury.
It may be time for No. 55 to be given the consideration he has certainly earned.
Mike Babcock: Jack Adams Award
Mike Babcock’s 2013-14 season may have been the most stressful of his career, but his nomination for the Jack Adams Award signified it was one of his best.
According to Man Games Lost, Detroit suffered a franchise-record 421 man-games lost to injury last season, and Babcock coached nearly half of an AHL team to a Stanley Cup playoff berth for a 23rd consecutive season.
Johan Franzen played in 54 games, while Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg each skated in just 45. Still, Detroit was able to remain afloat in the playoff hunt in its first season in the Eastern Conference.
Babcock was forced to use any and every prospect available, as nine players made their NHL debuts over the course of the 2013-14 season.
His ability to get veterans and prospects alike to buy into his system and stay within the game plan proves his aptitude for the sport.
Patrick Roy was the recipient of the Jack Adams last season, but an argument could have been made in Babcock’s favor. If Detroit can rebound and remain healthy, there is no reason he can’t improve upon last year’s impressive showing.
Henrik Zetterberg: King Clancy Trophy
The NHL’s King Clancy Trophy is awarded to the player who best demonstrates leadership on and off the ice and has made a notable contribution to the community.
Henrik Zetterberg and his wife Emma have planted deep roots in the metropolitan Detroit community, and he was recognized with the 2013 NHL Foundation Player Award.
Zetterberg is involved in multiple children’s charities throughout metro Detroit, most notably the Zetterberg Foundation. Instead of setting up a wedding registry, Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com noted that the couple asked for money to help make its foundation a reality.
Detroit's captain also funds a high school hockey scholarship and endorses the Hockey Weekly High School All-Star Banquet.
His contributions are invaluable to the community, showing the kind of ideal leader he is off the ice. The only Detroit Red Wings player to have received the award was Brendan Shanahan in 2003.
Pavel Datsyuk: Frank J. Selke Trophy
Just like with the Lady Byng, Pavel Datsyuk is nearly a shoo-in finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
The Selke is awarded to the forward who excels in the defensive facets of the game, and Datsyuk is certainly among the best in the game.
Having won the award three times—consecutively from 2008 to 2010—he is among the league leaders in takeaways every season. Ryan O’Reilly led the league with 83 takeaways in 80 games, while Datsyuk finished with 59 in only 45 games in 2013-14.
He is an elite offensive talent, but his commitment to excellence at both ends of the ice puts him in a class of his own.
The Detroit Red Wings have the most individuals to receive the award (four), with Sergei Fedorov (two), Steve Yzerman, Kris Draper and Datsyuk totaling seven wins since 1994.
With a clean bill of health, there is little doubt that Datsyuk will again be among the finalists for the Selke.
All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.