So, the NHL Awards are upon us once more. Things have changed a little since last year–the channel it’s on has changed names and the “whoops, time to go to the bathroom/get snacks/otherwise be out of the room” musical guest is different (I mean, really, Nickelback?!)–but some things remain the same. Things such as PREDICTIONS!
Adams Award (best coach)
Nominees: Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis), Paul MacLean (Ottawa), John Tortorella (Rangers)
Emma: All three of these coaches executed some big turnarounds for their teams. Ottawa thundered up and often challenged Boston for the top spot in the Northeast, even briefly overtaking the Bruins for that distinction. The Rangers went from barely making the playoffs last year to the first seed after a season spent perched calmly atop the East. But to me it’s the Blues that had the biggest extreme makeover. When Hitchcock arrived, the team was 14th in the West and had a 6-7-0 record. Under his tenure, the Blues put together a 43-15-11 season, a Central Division title for the first time since the 2000 election was the big election du jour, 109 points and a trip to the postseason that did end rather ignominiously, but still! So I have to give it to Hitchcock.
Krista: I’m going to agree with Emma, Hitch did a lot for the Blues in a short amount of time. Yes, Tortorella took the Rangers to the conference finals, and McLean revived the Sens, but Hitchcock did what other coaches in his position this season – and there were quite a few – couldn’t do, and that was overhaul the team. I’m taking Hitchcock for this one.
Calder Trophy (best rookie)
Nominees: Adam Henrique (New Jersey), Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Emma: Nugent-Hopkins had tons of potential and would probably be the sure thing if he hadn’t been injured, but Landeskog jumped right in on the Avs and made a difference right away. He led the team with a +20 rating, was often used on man up and man down situations, played about 19 minutes a game and tied for the lead among all rookies with 52 points. Beast mode.
Krista: While Nuge was hot at the beginning of the season (we both witnessed his first hatty) and Gabe was a beast for the Avs, I’m picking Henrique. He filled in on the Devils’ top line for Travis Zajac, and he’s been a valuable asset to the team ever since. If the regular season didn’t prove it, then look at his playoff stats: five goals including three game winners, a playoff-leading +12, and that’s on top of his 51 regular-season points (16 goals, 35 assists). I’d be surprised if he didn’t win this.
Foundation Award (charitable player)
Nominees: Mike Fisher (Nashville), John-Michael Liles (Toronto), Matt Moulson (Islanders)
Emma: This is one of those categories where I’m okay with any of the nominees winning, basically. All three of them have done great things in many different aspects for their communities. But to me, Moulson should take the win. Not only is he charitable in so many ways, including donating $500 for each goal to a joint foundation he has with his brother-in-law Jonathan Quick, but he was one of the first players in the NHL to show support for the You Can Play Project. Many other players have come on board with the project since, but Moulson was one of the trailblazers.
Krista: I agree with Emma, I’d love to see any of these guys win. But I love how Moulson teamed with Quick on their charity, and it’s wonderful that he came out in support of You Can Play in its beginnings. He’ll take this one.
GM of the Year Award
Nominees: Doug Armstrong (St. Louis), David Poile (Nashville), Dale Tallon (Florida)
Emma: Tallon took a huge risk when he decided to perform an extreme makeover on the Panthers. Bringing in 10 new guys could’ve backfired in so many ways, but then Florida surprised us all by having a banner year. First Southeast Division title, first trip to the playoffs since the Y2K bug was a thing–all in all, a pretty successful makeover.
Krista: Tallon brought his experience as a former assistant GM for the Blackhawks to Florida, and just as Hitchcock turned the Blues around, Dale did that for the Panthers. He made some shrewd moves in trading for Tomas Kopecky and Brian Campbell, and he put his faith in Jose Theodore. The huge gamble he took paid off thousandfold.
Hart Trophy (MVP, voted on by PHWA)
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos
Emma: Malkin should get this–if we’re just picking among these three nominees–because he got the Art Ross, helped fill in for leadership with Sidney Crosby injured, helped better his linemates and proved so necessary that the Penguins lost 9 of the 14 games where he had no points.
Krista: I actually don’t have a favorite here, because I’m a little miffed that Claude Giroux isn’t a finalist for this or the Ted Lindsay Award. But if I had to pick someone, given the situation with Crosby’s two comebacks, I’d have to go with Malkin.
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP, voted on by players)
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos
Emma: If this looks like deja vu, that’s because it is; these three players are also nominated for the Hart Trophy. See my pick up there.
Krista: See my pick for the Hart Trophy.
Lady Byng Trophy (good behavior)
Nominees: Brian Campbell (Florida), Jordan Eberle (Edmonton), Matt Moulson (New York Islanders)
Emma: I have literally spent a longer time waiting for a MARTA train than these three gentlemen spent in the sin bin this season. (They run about every 15-20 minutes if you’re lucky.) This is one of those categories where to me anyone could win and I’d be chuffed about it, but it would be cool to see a d-man win it for the first time since the year my dad was born.
Krista: I’d love to see Campbell win for sentimental reasons, but I honestly don’t have a real favorite here. They’re all upstanding guys who’ve worked hard and kept out of trouble, so I’d be happy if any one of those three won.
Masterton Trophy (perseverance)
Nominees: Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa), Joffrey Lupul (Toronto), Max Pacioretty (Montreal)
Emma: Here’s a curious little fact: this is the only category in which all three nominees play for Canadian teams. But while Alfredsson and Lupul have both overcome big things to keep doing what they love, Pacioretty needs to win this one. He rebounded from that fractured vertebrae to have a career-best season and be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dark Habs season.
Krista: Pacioretty should win this. Many guys struggle the first year after a devastating injury, but he shot forward and showed everyone that he overcame something that would keep us mere mortals down for a long time. Add in the fact that while Montreal fans called for the head of Zdeno Chara on a platter, Max decided to take Chara’s apology and not hold anything against him for the hit. That forgiveness and call to move on was, I think, a big part of the healing process.
Norris Trophy (best defenseman)
Nominees: Zdeno Chara (Boston), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), Shea Weber (Nashville)
Emma: Karlsson had a huge season, there’s really no other way to say it–led all defensemen in goals, assists and points; 10th in the entire league for points; made a bunch of new team records and tied some others; team-leading time on ice; +16 ranking that looks a lot better than his -30 last year.
Krista: Karlsson will be the favorite going in, but I really want Chara to take this. With a +33, an average 25 minutes of ice time, 12 goals (8 of which were on the PP) and 40 assists under his belt (not to mention the hardest shot in the league), he rallied his team through a lot of ups and downs. I think he really deserves it.
Selke Trophy (best defensive forward)
Nominees: David Backes (St. Louis), Patrice Bergeron (Boston), Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
Emma: With all due respect to Backes and Datsyuk, here’s how the chips fall for me: if Bergeron doesn’t win this one, I’m going to ask my Habs fan friends how to riot and then do it. (Note: I will not actually do it.) He deserves this award for so many reasons: his league-leading plus-minus, his almost team leading 64 points (Tyler Seguin got just ahead of him), his skill in the faceoff circle, his penalty kill proficiency (he’s usually not why there’s a penalty to kill, either), his team-leading blocked shots and takeaways…c’mon, PHWA. Don’t muck this up.
Krista: I’m sorry, Detroit fans, but Datsyuk can’t win it every year. It’s Bergeron or a swarm of very angry hornets get stuffed into someone’s bags for the trip from Vegas.
Vezina Trophy (best goalie)
Nominees: Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles), Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
Emma: It looks like we might go two years in a row with big-name American goalies who win the Cup, the Conn Smythe and the Vezina. Quick is a huge part of why the Kings were able to make the playoffs at all; back in the regular season, when they could barely even score one goal sometimes, he kept them in the game. Now let’s just hope that he doesn’t start going on about his Right as an Individual next season…
Krista: I’ve witnessed Quick‘s prowess when my boys have played the Kings, and I’ve come away every time lamenting that he was a brick wall. When the rest of the team was struggling, he was the constant, and he stayed that way even in the playoffs. I can’t think of a more deserving guy for this one.