NHL Awards: Who Should and Who Will Win Each NHL Award
With the Stanley Cup finally decided in a rather anti-climactic Game 7, the attention of the hockey world turns to June 22 and the NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas.
Each year, the NHL selects nominees who are most deserving of each award and a winner is selected based on each category's criteria, which always seems to elicit both positive and negative reactions from the fanbase.
While some of the awards have already been decided (Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Jennings) due to regular-season stats, there are still quite a few categories where an upset could take place.
Let's take a look at each award and who should/will take home the hardware.
Mark Messier Leadership Award
Nominees: Zdeno Chara, Shane Doan, Nicklas Lidstrom
A newer award, the Messier Award winner should "exemplify great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice." No offense to Chara and Doan but, when I think of great leaders, Nick Lidstrom pops into my head almost immediately.
A class-act both on and off the ice, Lidstrom is a future Hall of Famer who consistently leads and leads well. I don't see how either of the other guys can take this one home.
Winner: Nicklas Lidstrom
General Manager of the Year
Nominees: Mike Gillies (Vancouver), David Poile (Nashville), Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay)
All three teams are very well put-together but I believe one stands out from the rest. Nashville and Pekka Rinne made noise in the playoffs with their hard-nosed play and timely scoring. Vancouver had the Sedin twins and surprise 40-goal scorer Ryan Kesler leading the charge while Roberto Luongo held the fort down in net.
However, Steve Yzerman has built the Tampa Bay Lightning into a team that competes now and into the foreseeable future. Superstars Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are always dangerous but Yzerman has assembled a supporting cast of awesome role players including Ryan Malone, Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and many others. He also did all this on his first year on the job, something that cannot be overlooked.
If Yzerman can somehow acquire a young goaltender this offseason, watch out.
Winner: Steve Yzerman
Ted Lindsay Award: Most Outstanding Player
Nominees: Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos
Corey Perry's 50-goal season is very hard to ignore and I'm honestly surprised that Stamkos is nominated over his teammate Martin St. Louis.
However, no matter what happened in the postseason, Daniel Sedin was an absolute force in the regular season. Not only was he the only player to post more than 100 points this season, he also had one of the highest shooting percentages in the league to go along with his 41 goals. There were quite a few reasons why Vancouver was the favorite heading into the playoffs...whoops.
Winner: Daniel Sedin
Jack Adams Award: Coach of the Year
Nominees: Barry Trotz (Nashville), Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh), Alain Vigneault (Vancouver)
Vancouver carries the torch of winning the Presidents' Trophy, posting 117 points and dominating the Western Conference for a good part of the season. Trotz led Nashville to its first playoff victory and molded the team into a solid contender, even if he does use the trap (*shudder*).
However, Dan Bylsma captained the Penguins to over 100 points even though superstars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were only on the ice for one game together. After the injuries to Crosby and Malkin, Bylsma used a roster consisting of a majority of AHL players and still managed to get the No. 4 seed in the East.
Winner: Dan Bylsma
Bill Masterson Award: Dedication to Hockey
Nominees: Ray Emery, Daymond Langkow, Ian Laperriere
This is an award where really it could go either way. "Dedication to hockey" is such a broad term that either one of these three guys could take it home and you wouldn't be surprised. Emery has the distinction of being one of the NHL's more colorful characters and is known for punching a guy in the head when he tried to put a hat on Emery's head in Europe.
Langkow has been around seemingly forever, bouncing around the league but always producing no matter what jersey he wears. Laperriere is the human interest nomination here, as he sat out the entire 2010-11 season with post-concussion syndrome caused by blocking too many punches with his face.
Awards like this really don't do anything for me so I'll take the concussion case.
Winner: Ian Laperriere
Frank J. Selke Trophy: Top Defensive Forward
Nominees: Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jonathan Toews
Datsyuk is starting to become a guarantee to be nominated here every year and with good reason. Datsyuk always seems to be matched up against the other team's top line and is a deadly faceoff man who can shut down opposing superstars.
Jonathan Toews already has a Conn Smyth under his belt but is also a defensive force, logging 95 takeaways during the regular season and adding more defensive skills to his already impressive offensive set.
However, Ryan Kesler had one of those years to remember. Not only did he score 40 goals but had a team-high 65 takeaways and a plus/minus of plus-24. He was clearly the best two-way player in the game this season.
I wouldn't argue with you too loudly if you think Toews deserves to win, but I just think it's Kesler's year.
Winner: Ryan Kesler
Calder Memorial Trophy: Rookie of the Year
Nominees: Logan Couture, Michael Grabner, Jeff Skinner
2010-11 had quite a crop of rookies, with two of the nominees topping 30 goals and the other scoring over 60 points. This will certainly not be an easy decision and, honestly, you could make the argument that all of these guys deserve the Rookie of the Year Award.
However, I think Logan Couture is the man who's going to take home the Calder because of one stat which tips the hand in his favor: game-winning goals. With all due respect to Skinner, topping 30 goals as a rookie is an amazing accomplishment in today's NHL and both Grabner and Couture did just that.
Take a look at the stats of Couture and Grabner:
Couture: 32, 24, 56.
Grabner: 34, 18, 52.
Pretty close, huh? However, Couture managed to score eight game-winning goals to Grabner's three and, while that might seem like a ridiculous stat to base something like this on, when two players have such similar numbers you have to call it like you see it.
Winner: Logan Couture
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Sportsmanship and High Level of Play
Nominees: Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Martin St. Louis
Showing sportsmanship is overrated. Ovechkin will never win this award because he's a borderline dirty player who likes to take the occasional run at the opposition. Crosby will never win because he throws cheap shots every now and then and tells referees exactly what he thinks.
What does sportsmanship have to do with winning? Absolutely nothing.
However, the NHL finds it necessary to give this "nice guy" award out every year, so I guess I'll humor them.
Lidstrom makes a solid candidate since he is, by all accounts, one of the league's nicest guys. However, since this award takes into account on-ice performance as well, 2010 winner Martin St. Louis is going to take this one home. His 99 points and only 12 penalty minutes show St. Louis' dedication to playing well and staying within the rulebook.
Either that or he never gets caught.
Winner: Martin St. Louis
Vezina Trophy: Best Goaltender
Nominees: Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo, Pekka Rinne
Whooo boy, this sure looks different now that the Finals are over, huh?
Honestly though, Tim Thomas is going to win this award, I don't think there's a question about that. His 2.00 goals against average to go along with a .938 save percentage is a year that most goalies would kill their mother to have. Luongo trailed in both categories by .010, showing you how close the race to the Vezina was this year.
However, I'm going to throw you for a loop here. Even though Thomas is going to win, I think Rinne deserves it more. Luongo and Thomas both had the benefit of having great teams in front of them while Nashville, even though they played well, is not the same caliber of Boston or Vancouver.
Even so, Rinne managed to post a 2.12 GAA and .930 save percentage while facing 100 shots more than Thomas and 150 more than Luongo.
Just something to think about.
Winner: Tim Thomas
Norris Trophy: Top Defenseman
Nominees: Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom
Lidstrom certainly had the point production this year and, as you can probably tell, I'm a big Lidstrom fan. However, he has one strike against him this year that I don't think the voting committee can overlook: minus-two, which was his plus/minus rating this year (the worst of his career). With all due respect to Lidstrom, he's not taking this hardware home.
So that leaves Chara and Weber.
Weber managed a few more points than Zdeno but Chara was simply a beast all year long. His plus-33 rating shows how he shut opposing lines down and he managed to chip in with 44 points. Add that all together with a slap shot which scares the hell out of people and you have your Norris winner.
Winner: Zdeno Chara
Hart Trophy: League MVP
Nominees: Daniel Sedin, Corey Perry, Martin St. Louis
No, that's not Daniel posing with the Hart, it's Henrik. What, you couldn't tell?
Anyways, as much as I would love to see Corey Perry take home this award, I just don't think it happens. Creepy Twin No. 2 is going to follow in his brother's footsteps and win the Hart this year.
The only guy to top 100 points, Sedin's 41 goals included 10 game-winning goals and a plus/minus rating of 30. Him and his brother were simply dominant all year, combining for 198 points over the course of the season.
Perry and St. Louis both had great years but it's tough to stop the Sedins in the regular season.
It's much, much, much easier in the Stanley Cup Finals though.
Winner: Daniel Sedin