Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com
The NHL Awards are like any other awards show on North American TV. Like the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, even the Espys, there’s someone who should win and there’s someone who will win. Now, I’m no fortune teller, but here’s my take on who should win the hardware, and who will win it in reality.
Hart Memorial Trophy – Most Valuable Player
NOMINEES: Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Martin St. Louis
Who should/will win – Daniel Sedin: Daniel Sedin was the most consistent player from start to finish. Behind closed doors, Daniel would love nothing more than to give his brother Henrik the proverbial “eff you” by winning a Hart and Art Ross trophy of his own; that alone shows that Daniel was bound and determined to be the team MVP this season. And people who say Daniel was buoyed by skilled linemates can make the same argument for Perry (Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan) and St. Louis (Steven Stamkos). Come on, it’s a no brainer here. To be honest I’m still not sure why Tim Thomas isn’t one of the final three, because that’s the only other player I’d consider giving the Hart to.
Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender
NOMINEES: Roberto Luongo, Pekka Rinne, Tim Thomas
Who should/will win – Tim Thomas: Hard to believe that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was at this time last year calling up Paul Holmgren in Philadelphia and George McPhee in Washington almost begging both executives to take the NHL’s most expensive backup ($5-million a season) off his hands for whatever he could get back. Thomas roared back onto the big stage and after winning the Conn Smythe should add another Vezina to his trophy case.
James Norris Memorial Trophy – Best Defenseman
NOMINEES: Zdeno Chara, Nick Lidstrom, Shea Weber
Who should win – Shea Weber: There are few defensemen like Shea Weber. He’s big, he’s bad, and he grows one heckuva playoff beard. While mobility certainly isn’t his strong suit, he came into his own this year by shutting down the opposition almost to a tee while putting up his fourth 40+ point season. The scary thing is most people think he’s going to get even better.
Who will win – Nick Lidstrom: He’s immortal. He can’t die. He won’t die, it seems. Lidstrom will be back next season with Detroit, and why shouldn’t he be? He put up 62 points at the age of 41, which is the most of any defenseman his age in history. Lidstrom was second among blueliners in scoring, but the fact his plus-minus isn’t what it normally is (minus-2), I feel Weber was more deserving of the Norris.
Calder Memorial Trophy – Rookie of the Year
NOMINEES: Logan Couture, Michael Grabner, Jeff Skinner
Who should win – Jeff Skinner: Skinner’s accomplishments this season make me feel insignificant. Imagine going straight from the OHL to a fixture on your NHL team’s first powerplay unit, because that’s exactly what Skinner did. The rookie potted 31 goals, three less than Michael Grabner’s 34.
Who will win – Logan Couture: The funny thing with the NHL’s Calder award is that they tend to give it to the player with the best stat line, which in this case is Couture, despite the fact he played for San Jose in last year’s playoffs and was barely eligible to win the award this year. This isn’t a condemnation of Couture, but Skinner made a bigger impact at a much younger age than the other two nominees.
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Most Gentlemanly Player
NOMINEES: Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Martin St. Louis
Who should/will win – Take your pick, really: All three are genuinely kind NHL players; Eriksson had 8 penalty minutes, Lidstrom had 20, and St. Louis had 12. All three play competitively and with a bit of an edge. My money’s on St. Louis, just because he’s won this award before.
Selke Trophy – Best defensive forward
NOMINEES: Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jonathan Toews
Who should/will win – Ryan Kesler: It’s time. Kesler worked his tail off all season, keeping in tune with his defensive abilities while chalking up 40 goals to his name. That’s no accident. Ryan Kesler is the NHL’s best two-way forward and the model for success at both ends of the rink. This could be the first of many.
Jack Adams Award – Best Coach
NOMINEES: Barry Trotz, Dan Bylsma, Alain Vigneault
Who should win – Dan Bylsma: Any time a coach (let alone one in his third year) can get his team into the playoffs despite missing both Sidney Crosby AND Evgeni Malkin, you’ve earned my eternal respect. Bylsma’s team got better without the two, and nearly forged their way into the second round before dropping game seven to Tampa Bay.
Who will win – Barry Trotz: This is a long overdue award. Trotz could easily be a perennial Jack Adams winner by now; his team has zero superstars, yet is competitive year in and year out. He builds his team around solid goaltending and defense. If he had a superstar forward, he’d have won a couple of these.
Bill Masterton Award – Perseverance
NOMINEES: Ray Emery, Daymond Langkow, Ian Laperriere
Who should/will win – Ray Emery: I like all three players because they’ve come back from injury, but Emery’s career was this close to ending, and only experimental surgery salvaged it. Not only that, he went from playing for Syracuse in the AHL to some postseason action with Anaheim this spring. Now that’s a great story.
Ted Lindsay Award – MVP voted by players
NOMINEES: Corey Perry, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos
Who should/will win – Steven Stamkos: I think most NHL players have grasped that what Steven Stamkos did this season is phenomenal. With all due respect to Perry and Sedin, Stamkos scored 91 points while still being only a kid, and he did it under a new coach. Stamkos took Tampa Bay and carried them on his back many times; his ability to come back after nearly getting his nose blown off in game seven versus Boston is an indication of his integrity and heart.
Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award – Best Leader
Who should/will win – Shane Doan: Doan is the quintessential leader by example; even though his Phoenix team was subject to relocation rumours all season, he kept his team afloat in the locker room and got them to the postseason for the second straight year. A leader is someone who can block out all the negative media attention and continue being a presence on his team, which is exactly what Doan did this season.