With the season coming to a close not too long ago, the NHL began naming its nominees for this year's awards. It's an exciting time of the year, and these decisions always bring up endless debates. Who deserves it and who doesn't? Here are my picks for those players and coaches who should have received a bit more recognition for their achievements this season. Let the arguments begin!
The rookie phenom was stellar this season for the Bruins, and is one of the main reasons they are serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. He led the NHL in goals against average with under 2 per game, led the league in save percentage, and won almost 50% of his games. Granted he only played in 45 games this season, he had a huge impact in Boston and exceeded all expectations.
I thought this award went to the NHL's best coach and not the coach whose team managed to come out of nowhere and make it to the playoffs. Sure, Colorado and Nashville were solid teams this season, but Buffalo finished in 10th place last season and in third this year. Not only did they finish top in their division but the Sabres were one of the best team's in the east coming into the playoffs, thanks in large part to their coach.
The Sharks goalie finished second in the NHL in wins, and top ten in both save percentage and goals against average. He won a whopping 62% of his games, a whole four percent higher than win leader Martin Brodeur. He also led San Jose to the top record in the West, not too bad for playing in a pretty tough division.
I definitely think the Norris trophy race this year is going to be down to the wire, but someone who deserves consideration is Chris Pronger. He played in all 82 games this season, was fourth in ice time per game (ahead of two of the nominees) and finished fifth in total points for a defenseman. Last time I checked, this award is for defensive player of the year and I don't think Green's crazy point total is a reason why he should be an automatic nominee. Pronger did more to lead the Flyers to the playoffs than Green did in D.C.
Being that he is only 23 years old, and has only played 5 games for the Bruines in the two season prior to this one, I'm sure that Rask is eligible for the Rookie of the Year award. If you want to say that Howard over in Detroit was the best rookie goalie this year, I would disagree because Rask was playing backup to last year's Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, and not only took over as the starter but saved the Bruins playoff hopes. Also, read slide 1 about how amazing his stats were this year.
If there was an award for goalies that shared the starting position with another guy at the beginning of the year and took over for him, we would have about 10 finalists. Niemi, however, was on the top of that list. Originally the Blackhawks back-up goalie, Niemi only played in 39 games this season, but he won 26 of them! That's two out of every three. Plus he had seven shutouts and in the final stretch of the season took the job away from starter Cristobal Huet
Last season, the Kings finished in 14th place in the Western Conference, and were the fifth-worst team in the NHL. This season they had exciting win streaks of 9 and 10 games and finished sixth, one point behind Detroit for fifth. They gave the Canucks a scare in the first round, but unfortunately this was not their year. If they keep up this positive play, next year they could possibly win the division and then who knows? Murray should definitely be credited for his achievements with L.A.
Since when does the award for regular season MVP only go to skaters? What Miller did for the Sabres this year is worthy of serious consideration for the best player in the NHL this season. He backed a team that definitely did not have the best defense in the league, or even a solid enough offense to score more goals than their opponents did to get him the win. Miller finished the season second in goals against average, second in save percentage, and posted five shutouts. Sure the nominees scored a lot and helped their teams reach the playoffs, but Miller did it all, while still handling the responsibility of being a goalie.