6. Frank J. Selke Trophy: Best Defensive Forward Finalists
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins
When deciding my pick for this award, I didn't really take points into consideration. Anyone in the league can put up good scoring numbers if that's their focus, and we know that these three finalists are very capable of getting on the score sheet. However, for this award, my pick will be the player who did the most for his team in situations like a penalty kill or overtime.
Pick: Jordan Staal
Watching Staal play is watching a player care more about his opponents not scoring than what his team does offensively. Time and time again, Staal was sent out to kill penalties and did so in such a suffocating way that he frustrated the hell out of the team on the power play.
He managed to be a great second line player for the Penguins in their quest for a repeat Cup victory and finished the year with 49 points. What's impressive is Staal's plus-19 rating for the season, the highest of anyone on the Penguins.
He's a hard working player and does what he can to help his teammates on the blue line, while still scoring a decent amount of goals.
7. Jack Adams Trophy: Best Coach Finalists
Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche
Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes
Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators
All three of these coaches led their teams to very unexpected finishes, all within the much tougher Western Conference. Sacco took Colorado out of the basement, they finished dead last in the conference last season, and he turned them into a team that gave the top-ranked San Jose Sharks a run for their money in the playoffs. Trotz also took the Predators from a low seed last year to a playoff contender that was by no means an underdog. Same story with Tippett in Phoenix, as the Coyotes were the surprise team of this year's post-season.
Pick: Dave Tippett
Phoenix's team, with the exception of breakout goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, had very little to work with this season, and Tippett turned them into a serious contender.
He took the Coyotes from near-bankruptcy, and a 36 win season last year, to the fourth seed in the West and 107 points. Last place to eighth place might be good enough for Colorado, but being on the brink of folding to the fourth seed is a much bigger deal.
8. Ted Lindsay Award (formerly Lester B. Pearson Award): Most Outstanding Player as voted by the NHLPA Finalists
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Pick: Henrik Sedin
I'm skipping right to the pick on this one because to me it's a no-brainer.
Sedin played his ass off this year and was without a doubt one of the best players in the NHL. If his peers in the NHLPA don't appreciate his tremendous season, then they will lose some serious respect from a lot of people.
Crosby and Ovechkin are great but Sedin is the most deserving of this award.
9. Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award: Best Leader Finalists
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Crosby is the captain of the Penguins and a great leader to his team. He leads by example as a mature player and always puts the team first. Doan and Miller are very similar in that they are the stars of their teams and the clear leaders. Without Doan, Phoenix is just a goalie, and without Miller, Buffalo is nothing.
Pick: Sidney Crosby
The Penguins have a lot of talent on their team and Crosby isn't the only reason they finished the season so strongly.
But, Crosby is the glue that keeps them all together.
Malkin and Gonchar don't have what it takes to keep the Penguins in check, and Crosby makes sure that they stick together and keep winning. The fact that Crosby is the captain at such a young age, and how he's kept the "C" since he earned it, proves his maturity and ability to lead this team back to the Stanley Cup finals.
Love them or hate them, those are my votes, and hopefully I'll actually get a few right. Check back tomorrow for my recap of my results.